Vaio Z flip/canvas Linux support

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by travelings, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. travelings

    travelings Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    8
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I am interested in purchasing a Vaio Z Flip 2016, but as I would primarily like to run Linux on it, I would prefer to understand how well Linux works on it. It is hard to get information about this, so I hope there are some people on this forum who can provide input on this.

    As the Vaio Canvas may share hardware with the flip, reports on how well Linux runs on the Canvas could be helpful as well.

    My understanding till now is that suspend-to-ram is not going to work, as the machine only supports "instantgo" (connected standby), which is not well supported under Linux. Can people confirm this for the canvas as well?

    My biggest question concerns the touchscreen. Some review reports claim that the technology is similar to that of the Surface book; the Surface book touchscreen seems not yet supported under Linux. Some other reports however seem to suggest that the touchscreen is similar to that of the Vaio Z Canvas 2015, and that the Vaio Z Canvas 2015 touchscreen is supported under Linux, even though it has 1024 levels of pressure, and hence is more modern technology.

    Is there anybody here who has tried Linux on the Canvas (or even better, the recent Vaio Z Flip) and who can share the experience? It would be highly appreciated!
     
  2. travelings

    travelings Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    8
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hoping this is useful for other people, I am going to answer my own question.

    Installing Linux is not completely straightforward: live USB sticks for OpenSuse Tumbleweed and Ubuntu 16.04 blocked halted during the booting sequence.

    However, after applying the most recent BIOS update (which updates the processor's microcode), and after applying the nomodeset kernel parameter, Ubuntu 16.10 managed to launch the GUI of the installer.

    After installation, not everything was working. Power consumption was rather high, while 3D acceleration was missing. Upgrading the kernel to 4.6-rc6 and upgrading the xserver has however mostly resolved this.

    The hardware is remarkably well supported:
    - the pen and touchscreen are completely working
    - the SD card reader is working
    - both webcams are working
    - keyboard light is working
    - screen brightness settings are working
    - HDMI out is working

    Surprisingly, even suspend-to-RAM seems to be supported. The kernel reports detecting an S3 state during start-up. This is surprising as Windows 10/instantgo machines are required not to provide this state. I did not check in detail, but I could imagine that the BIOS checks the operating system and provides S3 if it detects another operating system than Windows 10.

    However, suspend-to-RAM is not completely flawless at the moment. The machine does not always seem to enter the state when closing the lid. It is difficult to check the difference between a suspended state and an idle state though: when idle, the machine is so quiet I can't hear the difference with a machine that is turned off. There is no indicator light either.

    Power consumption is decent - typically around 7W, although I have seen it go as low as 4.5W when idle under powertop.
     
    Vistar Shook and emev like this.
  3. sprinter1

    sprinter1 Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    I got a vaio z flip. Installed the bios updates via Windows, removed the last recovery partition (backed up), resized the windows data partition. Chose custom partitioning for the free space at the end:
    (first 3 partitions kept for Windows)
    format /dev/nvme0n1p4 vfat and mount as /boot/efi
    format /dev/nvme0n1p5 swap and use as swap
    format /dev/nvme0n1p6 ext4 and mount as /
    format /dev/nvme0n1p7 ext4 and mount as /home

    (there is some flexibility as to the choice of file systems except for boot, I went with trusted ext4,
    did not try xfs, etc).

    After install the fonts were very small. I adjusted the kde fonts through the font settings and the gtk fonts by editing ~/.gtkrc-2.0

    $ cat /etc/issue
    Welcome to openSUSE 20160808 "Tumbleweed" - Kernel \r (\l).

    $ uname -a
    Linux linux-o52m 4.7.0-1-default ...

    All works pretty well. Had some issue with "failed to start udev wait for complete device initialization" at boot, appears to be solved by command:
    systemctl mask systemd-udev-settle

    Sound/wifi/display (including opengl). Can regulate display brightness. The laptop runs cool and the fans work when needed. Can suspend. Pen input works about as well as on Windows. Note taking with Xournal app is quite nice! Select pen disables touch option to rest your hand on tablet as you write without it registering.

    The one con is that the keyboard backlight is always on. I have tried to poke around in /sys/.. but have not been able to find a way to turn it off and it seems the hardware code is different from the older sony vaios so loading the sony-laptop kernel module doesn't help.

    I have also tried Ubuntu 16.04. It installed for me but I couldn't adjust the fonts for some reason and there seemed to be other bugs with the os (for example, apt couldn't install kubuntu correctly). I went with openSUSE. So far so good, other than the backlight and some glitch with waiting for lvm on boot (seems just a tumbleweed issue, unrelated to vaio). Note, I did not use nomodeset kernel option for bootloader. Using this disables brightness control for example.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  4. Calin Crisan

    Calin Crisan Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Guys did you manage to make the two "L" and "R" buttons work in Linux? They don't seem to generate any scancode on my Arch Linux system.
     
  5. travelings

    travelings Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    8
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Just a small update: this week I installed Linux kernel 4.8rc5, with an NVME patch that is available here:

    https://github.com/damige/linux-nvme

    Under kernel 4.8rc5, panel self refresh appears to work sufficiently reliably that it is usable on a daily basis.
    Together with the NVME patches, it turns out power consumption is significantly reduced.

    Under the old kernel, power consumption never dropped below 4.5W.
    With the new kernel and the NVME patch, I've seen power consumption drop to 3.0W, even with the screen switched on. Estimated running times with a full battery are above 15 hours in this case.
    I should add that this low power consumption is with a static screen, while the machine is sitting mostly idle with a low brightness. However, when I use the machine to read a PDF in tablet mode, or when I use the machine to annotate PDFs with the stylus, this is exactly the mode the machine is in - which means the new kernel significantly extends the time I can use the machine in practice.
     
    Vistar Shook likes this.
  6. sprinter1

    sprinter1 Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Interesting to here about kernel 4.8rc5. I run 4.7.2, opensuse tumbleweed stock. I think the max I could rate this for used in laptop mode at <= half brightness (which is definitely bright enough) and wifi running is about 7-8 hours realistic use. For the most part, however, this is quite sufficient. One thing which sucks is the keyboard light stays on all the time.

    "L" and "R" buttons work in Linux? - no they do not seem to work. I think the issue is similar to the keyboard light, vaio uses hardware different from sony vaio line. They should release the mem codes for their devices/controllers and then it will be better supported by upcoming kernels.

    The pen under xournal works pretty well, but this is about the only useful app I found to do pen writing in Linux. Everything else I tried works worse. It is still a bit worse than the best Windows apps.. my palm registers a bit in xournal, although it's fully usable. I also got a healing shield screen protector on ebay which reduced the screen reflective glare.
     
  7. travelings

    travelings Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    8
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    16
    In my case, the keyboard switches off when I don't type for some time.

    Regarding palm detection, indeed this also does not work well on my machine.
    Positive, however, is that it is possible to disable the touchscreen independently from the pen's digitiser.

    I use a script such as this one

    #! /bin/bash
    if xinput list-props "NTRG0F0A:00 1B96:0F0A" | grep Enabled | grep 1$; then
    xinput disable "NTRG0F0A:00 1B96:0F0A"
    else
    xinput enable "NTRG0F0A:00 1B96:0F0A"
    fi

    to toggle the touchscreen on/off. When it's off, I can put my hand anywhere on the screen and still use the pen. I often use Okular as it automatically stores annotations, but I would also be interested in a PDF annotation program that would be even more practical.
     
  8. travelings

    travelings Notebook Enthusiast

    Reputations:
    8
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Another update: I upgraded my kernel to 4.10 with nvme patch, and the difference in power consumption and speed is very noticeable.

    Using a command such as this

    echo power > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpufreq/policy0/energy_performance_preference

    it appears possible in the newest kernel to change the "HWP mode" of the Intel processor to a more power efficient mode (in which the CPU manages speed switching instead of the kernel), or also to a more power consuming mode. In its lowest energy mode, the machine now reports below 5W energy consumption even when the machine is in moderate use (typing, scrolling a webpage). As a result the machine runs longer in practice when in (light) use. (Until now I could only get power consumption <5W by letting the machine sit completely idle, eg. when reading.)
     
  9. sprinter1

    sprinter1 Newbie

    Reputations:
    0
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    5
    Thanks for the tips! I will try the power command, sounds great. Interestingly I've recently went back to using 'stable' Opensuse release.. 42.2 that has an older kernel (4.4.49) and found the touchscreen has stopped working entirely. This is fully a kernel issue as it was working fine with kernel 4.7, but it points I suppose to the use of not so standard hardware in the notebook. I haven't had much time to investigate, will report back if I find a fix or otherwise I go back to a more recent kernel.
     
Loading...

Share This Page