Linux on CF-28

Toughbook CF-28 and CF-29For those who don’t know, the CF-28 is a Panasonic Toughbook (Fully-Rugged). Mine has a 1GHz Pentium III processor, 256 MiB of onboard memory and 256 MiB PC133 (512 MiB of memory total), a DVD-RW/CD-RW combo drive, 30 GiB hard drive and is running the Linux distribution Debian. I have been using a mix of Lenny and Sid (stable and unstable) packages. I have tried many different Linux distributions but I have been, by far, more impressed with Debian. A list of the different distros I tried and the outcome (any fixes will be listed after):

Linux Mint 5(XFCE), 6(Fluxbox), 7(Gnome). All seemed to work fine but there was major font corruption in version 6 and 7.

Fedora 8(Gnome), 9(Gnome), 11(Gnome). All three installed fine, but version 8 and 9 showed trace signs of font corruption. Version 11 showed a different kind of corruption. Gray lines would show up in the Firefox address bar.

Ubuntu and Xubuntu 9.04. As in Linux Mint, major font corruption.

Ubuntu 9.10(Alpha 6 and Beta). Works fine. With new kernel, I believe the font corruption is fixed.:-)

Debian 5.0 Lenny. Not quite as bad as the others, but there were still signs of font corruption.

openSUSE 11.1. I tried the DVD installer, but would not finish install. Froze up and flashed different coloured screens.

Knoppix v.6. Worked marvelously without any problems.

*Be sure to restart after entering any tweak.

The font corruption, I, and many others, have concluded it is a problem with the Intel 82830 Graphics Controller. It is a pretty simple fix. There are two work arounds I have used that have cleared it up completly. They both require a edit of the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Under the Device section add:

Option “AccelMethod” “XAA”

or you can add:

Option “NoAccel” “true”

I have noticed turning acceleration off fixes the problem regardless, but on certain distos (namely Debian) changing AccelMethod to XAA fixed the problem by itself. Also , though it has not worked with me, you can change AccelMethod to EXA, if XAA does not do the job. Also to add these fixes has helped me with not only my CF-28 but several other older computers that have the Intel 82830 chipset.

As a fix to the gray lines in the Firefox address bar in Fedora 11. In the file /boot/grub/menu.lst, I added the parameter nomodeset to the end of kernel options. No more gray lines! :]

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask!

I have really enjoyed my Panasonic since I bought it about four months ago. Even as I type this, I am using it. I have an HP desktop on the same desk, but I just enjoy using this laptop so much more. It is virtually quite, because it has no fan to make any sound. Even without a fan, it stays pretty cool. I can’t really say what made me choose Debian over all other distros. But, one thing that turned me off of Fedora, for this computer anyway, is yum. Yum is much, much slower than apt-get or aptitude. I want to get this computer as fast as it can go. I know, it is only 1GHz, but it can go pretty fast if you tweak it enough and do a minimal install to make sure you have no bloatware. Besides the main things I use are Iceweasel, Icedove, the GIMP and I don’t really need anything much more. But I may get a dual-core Acer soon to do much more, but that is another story. Well, Cheers!


*Update: 22 Sept. I am now running Xubuntu 9.04. It is like the other Debian based distros, font corruption. An easy tweak of the xorg file fixes it and it actually seems to run faster than Debian did. I will keep it for a while and post any problems I may run in to.

  1. Michelle Workman
    24 November 2009 at 11:05

    Good Morning,
    I reecently bought a new hard drive for my tough book cf-28 and it keeps relaying a message stating, “operating system not found.” Please help!

    • 24 November 2009 at 16:51

      Not trying to be funny, the first question is, have you actually installed the operating system on the new hard drive? If you have, maybe the bootloader did not get installed?

  2. 2 March 2011 at 06:35

    I got a CF 28, too,
    I was able to install debian 5/6 SQUEEZE on my CF 28,
    but I still have the same problem all the time,
    I can log in single user, and everything seems ok, but the graphic card is not ok, because when I launch X, the screen just become black and I can not do nothing except Power it off, the ctrl + alt + del does not work.
    My opinion is the xorg, is not ok, I try a empty even I don’t know how to fix it.

    Have you got an idea ?

    Regards 🙂

  3. simon
    8 April 2011 at 09:51

    Interesting stuff, I was trying to migrate from w2k to Linux (first time, newbie) gave up with ubuntu after 3 days couldnt install it.

    Finally installed Linux Mint (julia) I believe the very lastest, now have spent 2 days trying to get the screen to function.

    Black screen, flickering screen, then mainly grey scale, most of the time none at all.

    My toughbook is a cf-28 P variant, I assume it has the intel chipset..

    On this latest Linux Mint (julia) there are no x11/xorg.cnf files, apparently after doing some googling, it doesnt use them.

    So what now, am I stuffed and do I have to return to w2k.

    Any help would be appreciated.
    Just about ready to throw the towel in and return to W2k

  4. 5 April 2012 at 07:37

    I’v got a CF-28 here and installed Debian Squeeze on it. Runs, I can login over ssh. But X does not display anything, in /var/log/Xorg.0.log I see that it find no appropriate mode.

    Anyone have a working /etc/X11/xorg.conf ?

  5. 6 September 2014 at 05:15

    also try Knoppix 3.4, and 5.1 they work ok, and fast..

  6. 6 September 2014 at 05:27

    Hi, i am struggeling to get suse 6.4 to work. the X-Server fails ( no i830 – driver).
    I would be pleased if you get a solution on your blog . thank you

  7. nouser
    6 September 2014 at 06:35

    opensuse 11.0 installs, but you might use automatic configuration and close the notebooks display, until configuration is finished (the easy way). but opensuse 11. is too slow. on this machine, even xfce is not very fast.

  8. nouser
    6 September 2014 at 06:55

    but i would recommend opensuse 11 if you are going to use cli most of the time, because its easy to handle, and everything comes on one DVD, as far as i know..

  9. 4 October 2014 at 12:38

    Debian Etch on Panasonic CF-28

  10. 14 June 2015 at 13:21

    SUSE 9.2 works good too, i think

  11. SB
    31 October 2016 at 10:25

    Try Astra Linux ( from russia ) on it =)))

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