A couple weeks ago I bought a Sony VAIO UX from someone on eBay. The unit had been updated to Windows 7 from Windows Vista Business. Vista Business was the OS installed on the device from the factory, but as we all know, Windows Vista was worse than Windows 8. Very unstable due to a rushed release, and Microsoft never really “fixed” it. Windows 7 was much better, but with the VAIO UX only having a single core CPU at just over 1Ghz and 1GB of RAM, the unit barely meets the minimum specs for Windows 7. The Windows 7 install didn’t leave much space on the included 30GB SSD either.
Older models of the VAIO UX from the model I have all shipped with Windows XP Pro (32-bit). Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to nuke the entire contents of the SSD and install Windows XP from scratch. I dug out an old USB DVD-ROM drive that I haven’t had to use in ages, along with a couple of my old spools of CD and DVD media that had been collecting dust in a closet. I was able to find a Windows XP Pro installation disc with a volume license key, so I jumped in.
Windows XP Installation / Driver Files
Installing Windows XP on the device is just like installation on any normal PC that supports booting from CD-ROM. Fn+F2 upon startup launched the BIOS utility, which allowed me to specify the CD-ROM drive as my first startup drive. After that, installation was straight forward. When installation was complete, I ran in to some issues though.
Touch screen, mouse nub, and IEEE 1394 Firewire all worked out of the box. No special storage controller driver had to be specified during install. The XP installer saw the SSD right away. I was also able to run the display at 1024×600 native res right out of the box at 32-bit color, but it was sluggish and obviously using universal drivers. The back-lit keyboard worked and back-lights the keys as soon as you start using them.
I decided to pop in to Device Manager and see what driver Hell awaited me. Ugh.
As you can see, there are a lot of drivers missing. The first resource I checked was Sony’s own site, which was of no help. Because of the age of the device, and because Windows XP is no longer supported (even by Microsoft), Sony had removed all of the drivers for the entire UX line from their website. Thanks guys.
Because of this I was forced to search for specific chipset models used for each device in the VAIO UX, and find drivers elsewhere. A lot of the Intel drivers for things like wireless, the motherboard chipset, and even the GMA video drivers have been scrubbed from Intel’s site. Again, not helpful.
In the end, after hours of searching and testing, I was able to compile a full suite of drivers from multiple sites that removed all of the yellow exclamation marks from Device Manager.
I should note that after getting the Wi-Fi drivers installed, I let Windows Update run and it installed over 130 updates. One of these updates were the drivers for the “Audio Device on High Definition Audio Bus” – which is a fairly generic Realtek sound driver. The drivers included in my pack are as follows:
- TI Card Reader Driver (directory) – For the Sony MemoryStick DUO slot (must be installed manually through Device Manager to browse for driver). This initially shows up as “Mass Storage Controller” in Device Manager after XP install.
- Sony Ethernet (directory) – Marvell Yukon driver for the wired LAN on the VAIO UX dock.
- Fingerprint Co-processor (directory) – For the fingerprint reader on the device, does not include dual-factor login software.
- Wi-Fi.exe – Installs Intel a/b/g wireless drivers, also installs Intel’s Wi-Fi Utility, which I hate, but I’m not going to be using this device networked anyway due to XP’s vulnerabilities.
- Video.exe – Intel GMA 945 video drivers.
- Sony Camera Drivers.exe – Drivers for the forward-facing camera on the device, this initially shows up as only “USB Device” in Device Manager after XP install.
- Intel Chipset.exe – Intel motherboard chipset drivers.
- Bluetooth.exe – Generic Bluetooth drivers.
Testing and Conclusion
It took much longer to find the drivers for everything than it did to actually install Windows XP, even with this small amount of RAM and weak CPU. There are now no unknown devices in Device Manager, and everything seems to be working fine. I have tested the Ethernet and an external monitor with the dock and it can mirror or extend displays without a problem. I was even able to play Duke 3D on an external monitor while mirrored to the UX’s LCD display and it worked great.
There are a couple of proprietary things that I was unable to find, namely the application installers from Sony for the Zoom keys on the front of the unit, the VAIO Camera software, and the software for the Dashboard Launcher which is invoked by pressing the dashboard button on the front of the UX. As it sits, those buttons simply don’t do anything right now. The camera can still be used in other applications. Finding that software will be the final piece to the puzzle, and if I can find it I will update this post and host it for download.
If you are trying to bare-bones install Windows XP on a UX, good luck. I hope this post helps out.