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I am running dual boot Ubuntu 12.10 and Window 7 on a Sony Vaio VGN-FW31E. The wireless switch has broken and come away from the motherboard, which switches it to the permanently off state.

I have removed the mini pci express wireless card Intel 5100 series and blanked off pin 20 which switches off the card (on is low). The wireless now works fine in Windows 7 but not in Ubuntu. As I only use Windows 7 to browse one poorly designed website I would really like to get my wireless card running in Ubuntu.

rfkill list all returns the following:

0: sony-wifi: Wireless LAN
    Soft blocked: no
    Hard blocked: yes
1: sony-bluetooth: Bluetooth
    Soft blocked: no
    Hard blocked: yes
2: phy0: Wireless LAN
    Soft blocked: no
    Hard blocked: no

Any ideas?

share|improve this question
I would recommend against closing for this Q. It's Ubuntu's behaviour to list the invalid Hard radio blocks here. It may be by design or a bug, but it's good to have this answered (now is) and solved, imo. – gertvdijk Jan 5 '13 at 17:44
I agree. While the actual wording is specific, the solution has possibilities for all sony laptops, and might be useful to others as well. maybe change the heading to be more generic - "Sony Laptop" – fabricator4 Jan 5 '13 at 20:47

I believe the module that translates key presses to action in your device is sony-laptop. Confirm with:

lsmod | grep sony

If so, you might remove it temporarily:

sudo modprobe -r sony_laptop
sudo rfkill unblock all
rfkill list all

If that enables your wireless and there are no other negative effects, blacklist it so it never loads in the future:

sudo su
echo "blacklist sony-laptop"  >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
share|improve this answer
Brilliant this works with sony_laptop rather than sony-laptop, many thanks I can now forget about Windows once again. – user118960 Jan 5 '13 at 15:24
It may have side effects to blacklist the complete sony_laptop module as it is responsible for more than just a kill switch operation I assume. Still a good workaround for the case! – gertvdijk Jan 5 '13 at 17:43
I believe sony_laptop and sony-laptop are equivalent in this context. In my system, the module is named: /lib/modules/3.5.0-21-generic/kernel/drivers/platform/x86/sony-laptop.ko Is yours different? – chili555 Jan 5 '13 at 21:13

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