September 15, 2011

Ubuntu 6.06 on a Sony Vaio FX-101

I got bored so I dug out my old Sony Vaio laptop which I bought back in 2002, gave it a "new" 15gb hard drive, put 128mb RAM into it (after previously stealing the 256mb RAM chip for my Apple iBook), and reloaded it with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS.

Why Ubuntu 6.06? Well, it's the only one which works properly on the Sony Vaio FX-101 even though it's obsolete now. The version I used this time was Ubuntu 6.06.2 which took about an hour to install. Then I simply changed all the repositories to "old-releases" and left it to download all the updates for another hour or so.

All the usual programs are now on there albeit older versions such as GIMP 2.4 (rather than 2.6), OpenOffice 2.0 and Firefox 1.5. There used to be a way to get Firefox 2 on there using Ubuntuzilla but that script doesn't work anymore and I prefer to use Epiphany as my browser on this laptop anyway. Flash 9 is the only other problem as there's no way to get Flash 10 installed to watch YouTube videos anymore.

The games all work properly (including the sound!) and, since most of them run better than on my main computer, that's decided the main use that this old Vaio will have. Pulse audio has a lot to answer for.

I upgraded the CD drive to DVD a couple of years ago and it plays my horror movies really well under Ubuntu 6.06. At one point I had Ubuntu 10.10 on this laptop and it was very sluggish for DVD playback. I don't know what exactly was changed during the various versions but it wasn't too good in any case.

Medibuntu no longer supported the DVD codecs so I installed them semi-manually with an easily to find .deb file. All the other codecs were in the archived repositories which was useful.

One thing I've discovered about Linux on old computers is that none of the modern distros will work properly so it's always best to go back to the earliest one which supports your hardware and fiddle with it. Xubuntu and all those other XFCE based Linux versions are absolutely useless and aren't much lighter than their Gnome equivalents. Of course, Linux Puppy will work but it's a horrible thing to use and I've never understood the appeal of it.

Anyway, Ubuntu 6.06 works perfectly on a Sony Vaio FX-101. If you've still got one, I highly recommend installing using the "alt" version of Ubuntu 6.06 and resurrecting it.

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