Sony Vaio Z Debian Linux support

Sony Vaio Z Debian Linux support

I had to install Debian Wheezy on a brand new Sony Vaio Z laptop with the new Ivy Bridge architecture (SVZ1311C5E). I'll talk about this here, because it's always nice to know that new hardware works quite fine (or not) under Debian.


The laptop is delivered with Window 7, which I decided to remove entirely anyway, and replace with Debian. I've installed it with Linux 3.2 and then ran Linux 3.4, 3.5 and 3.6-rc1.

USB booting

Don't ask me why, nor an Ubuntu or Debian USB installation booted, blocked at SYSLINUX at best, or at a black screen. This does not work. I had to use PXE to install Debian.


The only thing that can be surprising, is that the 128 GB SSD storage is actually made of 2 64 GB Samsung SSD aggregated in a RAID 0 using Intel Rapid Storage Technology, previously known as Intel Matrix. This is supported by Linux using the dm-raid module. So this is a fake RAID, and you anyway can see the both drives as sda and sdb under Linux.

Unfortunately, this kind of RAID is not supported correctly by GRUB, and I was unable to install it this way. Therefore, I decided to remove entirely this fake RAID (which is possible via the BIOS) and use a Linux software md RAID 0 instead, plus crypto on top of it. That I know well and I trust. :)


The Intel HD Graphics 4000 works fine. I'm alsmo using the HDMI output, which works fine. There's some GPU hanging (as seen on screen and in kernel logs) in Linux up to 3.4, but with versions 3.5 and above, I didn't see any problem so far.


The Intel HDA sound card works pretty well, both for playing and recording. The main problem is that I hear a constant noise on the speakers, but tweaking the ALSA mixers ends it at some point. There's still probably a bug, not yet resolved in Linux 3.6-rc1.


The keyboard works fine, and the back-light too, via the sony-laptop kernel module. Wonderful.


Touchpad works fine.


It does not work, and is not supported according to my research. Not that I care about, but don't count on it. It's an AuthenTec AES1660.


It works perfectly.


Well, USB 3.0 does not work. I had to disable XHCI in the BIOS and use the 2 ports as standard USB 2.0, otherwise I would just get errors from the kernel. Still not working with Linux 3.6-rc1, and I've no clue to debug, and do not use USB 3.0 yet, so…


The WiFi module (based on iwlwifi) works fine. The only problem with NetworkManager is that the sony-laptop offers a second rfkill switch and NM does not know how to handle it correctly. A bug is opened about this and I hope to be able to write a patch or something at some point. Also, there seems to be some quality issue with the iwlwifi driver and 802.11n at this point. I'm losing connection quite often when the signal drops below 40 %. Loading the module with 11n_disable=1 helps a lot.


The gigabit Realtek Ethernet controller works perfectly.

Card reader

Works perfectly.