Virtualization extensions with a Vaio TZ11MN/N

For some bizarre reason the silly people working at Sony decided to disable the Intel VT extensions by default. But hackers are always smarter than stupid salesmen making decisions in some random department of a Enormous Big Company™: there is a way to re-enable VT extensions.

Big FAT warning: I have only checked this with a Vaio VGN-TZ11MN/N with a Phoenix BIOS version R0052N7. Following the instructions detailed here may render your computer totally unusable, and I decline all responsiblity on the correctness of this method. It worked for me, however.

Fortunately, the code needed to enable the virtualization extensions is still in the BIOS, but there is no menu which allows for easy configuration, so we need to modify the setting using a somewhat “manual” method.

  1. Get yourself a bootable DOS system. You can boot from hard-disk, a floppy, a USB flash stick or whatever. I used one of the FreeDOS boot floppy images I used a some time ago to play old computer games in an old Pentium 120 I own. In order to write the image to an USB floppy drive I had to use the following command:
      # dd if=fdosfloppy.img of=/dev/sda
  2. Copy a DOS text editor into the bootable device. I used the tiny “T” editor.
  3. Get yourself a copy of the symcmos.exe utility and copy it to the bootable device. This tool allows modifying the configuration values stored in the CMOS which by dumping current contents and loading new values from a text file.
  4. Boot the DOS system from the device we have prepared so far.
  5. Run symcmos -v2 -lsettings.txt, if everything goes as expected now the settings.txt file will contain one setting per line, in a (address)[value] fashion.
  6. Scroll down to address 0363 and modify the value from 0000 to 0001. Save the file.
  7. Load the new values into the CMOS by running symcmos -v2 -usettings.txt
  8. Last, but not least, power down the computer (a warm reboot will not work). If everything went well, now you can boot your favourite GNU/Linux distro, load the kernel module and install KVM:
      # modprobe kvm-intel
      # emerge kvm

For KVM I am using the ebuilds from the sabayon overlay. Also, if there is an error when trying to load the KVM kernel module, maybe you did not follow the procedure correctly: double-check your steps, and remember that using dmesg|tail you can check whether VT is still disabled by the BIOS.

For the intrepidous people trying this, I hope you will have good luck (as I did :D), but remember that I can only say that this works for a VGN-TZ11MN/N with a Phoenix BIOS version R0052N7.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Virtualization extensions with a Vaio TZ11MN/N

  1. Interesting post, and interesting way to enable virtualization extensions in Vaio BIOS, it’s really a dirty, but funny hack! 😀

  2. At least it worked… and KVM runs smoother than Qemu with its kernel module, so I think it worths trying to enable the extensions 😀

  3. attempting to solve the same problem on VGN-FW21Z
    my question would be how you came to identify 0363 as a address for VT enabling

    cheers,

  4. @pawel: If you follow the link which points to the NotebookReview forums, there are some posts that contain lists of addresses tagged with Sony model and BIOS version numbers. I tried with the address used for other model which also has the same version of the Phoenix BIOS and it worked.

  5. “Cannot find BCPNV”

    What is BCPNV??? What can I do???
    Please Help me.
    I really need Hardware Virtualization

  6. If you have this firmware revsion, you WILL be able to run XP mode in Windows 7!!
    I can confirm this as I write!!!!

    I own a VGN-TZ16 which is the asian variant of the VGN-TZ11 but had no problems.

    There’s a faster way to create a bootdisk than recommended in this guide.

    Here’s what you will need, i’ve provide current links where appropriate:

    1 x USB flash drive (8MB or greater)

    1 x Program to mount isos, such as PowerIso or Daemon Tools

    1 x HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool
    (http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=197)

    1 x Win98 Boot disk iso
    (http://www.allbootdisks.com/downloads/ISO/AllBootDisks_ISO_Image_Downloads25/Win98_bootdisk.iso)

    1 x Tiny Editor
    (http://www.os2site.com/sw/apps/editors/tinyed.zip) and (http://www.os2site.com/sw/apps/editors/tinyed.txt)

    1 x Syscmos file
    (ftp://ftp.mathematik.uni-marburg.de/pub/mirror/supermicro/utility/symcmos.exe)

    Instructions
    —————-
    1. Install HP format tool – SP27608.exe
    2. Mount Win98_bootdisk.iso to a virtual drive
    3. Insert your USB flash drive and load HP format tool.
    4. Select USB flash drive and select quick format, create a DOS startup disk and just locate the mounted iso
    5. When the process has completed. just go into your USB flash drive in explorer. You will see there is no files. This is correct as the DOS files are hidden and not visble. Copy over syscmos and all the files extracted from Tinyed.zip and readme in the root of the drive. (You can make folders and place lots of other dos files if necessary).
    6. Restart your machine and you should now be in DOS mode!

    Now follow the rest of the guide/article in relation to syscmos.

    I hope many people have success with this. We paid enough for these laptops!

    Thanks for making the guide in first place man!

    /
    —–
    oooo

    • Thanks a lot for the info. It is great to know that this is (still) working for the people out there and that is useful for doing things 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s