Sony VAIO Z600LEK Current screenshot

About the Machine

The Sony Vaio PCG-Z600LEK has the following features:

Specs and manuals from a Sony site.

My machine is upgraded to 192 MB RAM. I also have the following accessories:

The Z600 is a European model; it's identical to the Z505 and N505 models marketed in the U.S. and Japan (inside there's a sticker that says "Z505", so I'm pretty sure now--see the photo below).

Installing an Operating System

The Vaio Z600LEK comes with Windows 2000 Professional. My machine had been on display and thus had a password set, but the clerks couldn't remember what it was :-) I don't have a use for Microsoft products anyway, so I didn't boot into Windows even once (so don't ask me how the disk was partitioned), and I'm using the whole disk for Linux.

What's Working?

Everything I need was basically working out of the box:

I don't have any i.Link devices, and I have no idea about support for IEEE 1394 in Linux in general. I don't need the modem, so I haven't tried it either, but despite it being a softmodem it might actually work--check the Linux-sony mailing list archives

Replacing the hard disk

My Vaio (called notus) came with a 15 GB Hitachi DK23BA-15 hard disk. It had been worked fine, until December 31, 2005, when I was suddenly getting read errors and the hard disk started making strange noises. I managed to copy my current work to another system before notus locked up.

On reboot, I got the Non-System disk or disk error message, but on second try it booted again, and Linux detected lots of file system errors and dropped me on the command line; while trying to fix the file system, it locked up again. Eventually the Vaio didn't recognize the hard disk on startup anymore.

To get access to the hard disk, you have to disassemble the Vaio almost completely. It's not hard, but it's annoying. I didn't need them, but afterwards I found out by chance that there are a number of illustrated guides about opening the Z600/Z505; lists:

Anyway, inside (and without a hard disk) the Z600 looks like this:

Vaio PCG-Z600LEK opened up

After dissassembling the Vaio, I put the hard disk in an external USB enclosure and hooked it up to another machine (a VIA Epia system running Slackware Linux); I was quite surprised that it mounted the disk without problems. I used the excellent dd_rescue to make an image of the whole disk; on the first try it reported 6 errors, but on the second try it was able to read the whole disk without errors.

Nevertheless, something was wrong with the disk, so I ordered a new one, a Samsung MP0402H. Once it arrived, I used dd_rescue again to write the image to the new disk. I installed the disk in the Vaio, and it booted up fine again.

There is one oddity: The drive activity light is now continously lit; I rechecked everything and confirmed that I didn't damage anything, and apparently this is normal, see this posting.

Apart from the larger size, the new hard disk is also noticeably quieter and cooler (you feel it under your right hand) than the old one.

FreeBSD VAIO Links

Linux VAIO Links