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Sony Vaio
Subsystem Comments

Jim Carter, 2014-04-09

When the subsystem checkout page does not have enough space to discuss issues with a particular item, it is extended here.

Touch Panel

The touch panel has no separate buttons; rather, it has clickable corners. Out of the box it was frustrating to use, and it has taken some user training and some configuration file editing to win it a green rating. See man 4 synaptics for driver parameters. Some but not all of this discussion is Linux specific; on Microsoft Windows there is a configuration GUI.

Here is my supplement to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf -- put it in the same directory with a higher number, e.g. 60-synaptics-J.conf

# For Synaptics touchpad on Sony Vaio.  See man 4 synaptics .
Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "Jimc clickpad buttons"
        MatchDriver "synaptics"
# (This is in 50-synaptics.conf, try to override it:)
# SoftButtonAreas parameters: right(left right top bottom) middle(lf rt top btm)
# 0 = extends to infinity in that direction.  0 0 0 0 = disable area.  Taps
# outside these areas are as normal, i.e. left button unless tapping disabled.
        Option "SoftButtonAreas" "67% 0 82% 0   33% 67% 82% 0"
#       To disable the bottom edge area so the buttons only work as buttons,
#       not for movement, set the AreaBottomEdge
        Option "AreaBottomEdge" "82%"
#       Horizontal scrolling is not on by default, and this failed to enable it:
        Option "HorizTwoFingerScroll" "True"

The keyboard is full size, 19mm key spacing. There are six regular rows with reduced size function and navigation keys in the top row. A seventh row has the CD eject key, keys labelled Assist, Web and Vaio (which do not produce normal keycodes), and the power button. At the right of the alphabetic area is a separate numeric pad, similar to a desktop keyboard. There are a total of 108 keys; a generic 104 key layout should work out.

Key feel is reasonable, with proper negative resistance when you press the key. So far I haven't noticed any missed keystrokes, nor false activations.

This keyboard is backlit. Controls will be found in /sys/devices/platform/sony-laptop/ (plus other items). The files in this directory are:

The keyboard backlight only comes on when the ambient light is below a certain level, measured as about 40 lux. This is moderately bright nighttime artificial lighting The sensor is in the large round hole above the F7 key. When illumination goes below the limit, the lamp comes on within 2 seconds; when illumination returns, the lamp goes out according to the value in kbd_backlight_timeout, except in about half the documented time. Documentation suggests that the lamp may come on upon any keypress, but this does not happen under Linux; forum posters report that it does happen (when they don't want it) on other Sony Vaio models.

So far I have not discovered how to read the ambient light sensor, though there is a daemon floating around to adjust the screen brightness on certain Vaio models.

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