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Debian live (lenny) boot options for vaio PCG-6J2L (aka VGN-SZ120P)

Hello and happy new year,

I'm trying to determine if this Sony Vaio PCG-6J2L, which according to
a web search is "known in the west as VGN-SZ120P", has a bad video card/
chip (Nvidia 7400go) or the problem is a driver issue.  The machine has
a partial install of windows and no Sony diagnostics, so I presume the
OS was re-installed on a new disk.  When running windows the machine
starts with some some "garbage" background, the firwmare boot screen is
displayed above the background garbage and when windows finally boots,
the garbage is cleared up and the windows screen is clean/correct but
it doesn't fill the whole screen.

Being a Debian type, of course the first thing I tried was to run the
Lenny live cd.  The Debian boot menu screen is clean and small.  When
booting the text scrolls over a video garbage background (blue wide
lines that scroll along with the text, some blink) and when the X login
screen should display, I see 2 copies of the boot screen side by side on
the top 1/3 of the screen and the rest are horizontal lines, like a
musical staff repeated 16 times vertically and 5 times horizontally,
giving the impression of 5 large vertical columns.  The cursor moves,
and carries with it 2 rectangles of dots and lines pattern. 

For those with Vaio experience, is this normal behavior with the
standard live CD?

http://linux-laptop.net has no reports of any linux installation on this
type machine.  Does anyone know what boot options can be given to overcome
this problem, assuming I don't actually have a bad video card/chip?
I've tried framebuffer=false and vga=771 (which worked for a Dell) with
no different result.

Is this machine so windows-dependent and/or proprietary that it is
hopeless to try to run Linux on it?  Sony wants me to buy a "recovery
disk", but I'd feel more comfortable making sure that I don't have a
bad video card/chip before doing so.  According to them, it's a driver
issue.  This seems to imply (again assuming no bad HW) that the standard
windows XP installation can't deal with the video card and needs the
Sony drivers.

I'd welcome any hints, suggestions or pointers to web pages that would
help.  Thanks.


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