Net installation of Debian Etch AMD64 R2 on Sony Laptop VGN-NR160E

Installation environment:

– Sony laptop VGN-NR160E

– Qwest DSL

– Dual boot with Windows Vista Home Edition

Problems encountered during normal installation:

– Network configuration failed during the installation. The installer cannot properly detect Marvell Yukon 88E80039 Ethernet card

Below are what I have done:

1) Download Debian Etch AMD64-r2 net installation CD.

2) Insert the CD and restart computer.

3) Press Enter at the first screen–>Choose language–>Choose Country–>Choose keyboard layout

4) Let the installer do it job until the “Detecting network hardware”. At this stage, the installer detects two interfaces, eth0 and eth1.

eth0: Firewire something

eth1: is Marvell Technology Group Ltd. Unknown device 4353.

According to the Device Manager in Windows Vista, this Sony laptop has Marvell Yukon 88E8039 Ethernet card. However, selecting either eth0 or eth1 at this stage results in failed network configuration. Therefore, we will not configure network at this time.

5) Go to the next step of the installation. Follow the instructions to install base system, setup root password and user, and install grub.

6) Reboot the machine. Then, we will see command line interface (not gui because we haven’t installed any graphical user interface).

7) Login as normal user and switch to root using “su” command.

8) Edit the “/etc/apt/sources.list” file using any text editor and add the following sources

deb etch main contrib

deb-src etch main contrib

deb <a href=""></a> etch/updates main contrib

deb-src <a href=""></a> etch/updates main contrib

deb etch main contrib non-free

deb-src etch main contrib non-free

9) Save the sources.list file and exit.

10) Configure the network card with the following commands. Note that the driver for Marvell Yukon 88E80039 Ethernet card is “sky2” (neither “sk98lin” nor “skge”)

&gt;modprobe sky2

&gt;ifconfig eth1 up

&gt;dhclient eth1

The Internet connection should be working now.

11) Update package list by issuing the following command

&gt;apt-get update

12) Select and install packages through tasksel user interface. Issue a command


A user interface for selecting and installing package is opened. So, select “Standard system” if available, “Desktop environment” and “Laptop”. Then, click install. Let the installation begins until it’s done.

13) If a blank screen happens during the installation in Step 12, wait for seconds. If we cannot get the screen back, turn the computer off. Then, turn it on again, login as a normal user, switch to root using “su” command, and issue the following command to fix the installation problem.

&gt;dpkg --configure -a

14) After the installation, restart the computer. Everything should be ok as normal. A login gui works, internet works, etc.

15) Solutions for some problems

Problem #1: The Internet is not working after restart and login. Need to issue “ifconfig eth1 up” and “dhclient eth1” everytime.

Solution: Add the following lines to “/etc/network/interfaces”

auto eth1

iface eth1 inet dhcp

Problem #2: Synaptic is not working, not even allowing login

Solution: install gksu and run gksu synaptic

Video display setting

After the first boot, I found that the screen resolution is not correct. The default screen resolution is supposed to be 1280*800, but the current screen resolution is 1024*768. I tried to change resolution by using Desktop–>Preferences–>Screen resolution, but the highest resolution listed is 1024*768.

I also try the

&gt;dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

However, it seems that the reconfiguration did not remember my choice even though I selected 1280*800 at the configuration.

Then, I tried to change the driver from vesa to i810. I got a blank screen after reboot. Next, I tried to upgrade Debian Etch to Lenny because Debian Etch does not recognize the Intel GM960 X3100 video driver of this laptop. So, the Lenny correctly recognize the driver. However, there were some errors during the installation and I still get only 1024*768 screen resolution.


I found a working solution at a Japanese web site at

I do not understand Japanese, but I use Google. So, there is a built-in translator to English language.

In summary, I fix the problem by performing the following steps.

1) I use Synaptic to install 915resolution package.
2) I edit /etc/default/915resolution with the following parameter values. (Comment out the MODE=auto line)


3) I also add the following line at the end of the /etc/default/915resolution file if the line does not exist.

PROG=”/usr/sbin/915resolution -c 945G”

(To be precisely, double quotes are required.)

4) Finally, I still choose “vesa” as a video driver, not i810.

[Update: March 10, 2008] I reinstalled Debian Etch again yesterday. The solution for the screen resolution really works, confirmed.

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4 Responses to Net installation of Debian Etch AMD64 R2 on Sony Laptop VGN-NR160E

  1. zak says:

    I’ve got Debian Etch installed.. I’m running the same graphic driver series as you (i810) with a Dell 2001FP 1600×1200 monitor (which X recognizes correctly). I’ve got 915 resolution installed and configured. X11 recognizes the driver (as 1810) and gives me 1600×1200 resolution, but “zoomed in”, so my desktop doesn’t fit in my physical screen. Also it offsets the screen so I get a black dead space on the right side of the screen. Best I can do is reduce it to 1280X1024 and scoot my icons over. Tried reinstalling 915 rez,, and then reinstalled Debian. No luck. Any ideas?

    I’ve had dozens of distros on here (both Debian based and non-Debian) and never had this problem!

  2. mrtextminer says:

    First of all, I select “vesa” as a video driver not “i810”. I’ve tried i810, but it didn’t work.

    If you have black space only on the right side of the monitor screen, is it because the Gnome/KDE desktop is not aligned correctly? I mean the left side of the Gnome/KDE desktop might be falsely set too left.

    Your monitor should have some buttons to move the Gnome/KDE desktop screen to the right-hand side until it fits your physical screen.

    I hope this helps.

  3. ethanay says:

    i can confirm the resolution fix works with 64studio (etch-based) on a dell xps m1330 w/intel x3100 (965 chipset)

    thanks for the post!

  4. I am amazed with it. It is a good thing for my research. i have a blog about laptops too, please come visit my site when u have time ^_^

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