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Linux on Panasonic Toughbook CF-28

20 September 2009 8 comments

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 OpenOffice.org.  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!

byrd

*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.

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