The Panasonic CF-Y5 (the laptops in the CF-R/T/W/Y series are sometimes called a "Let's Note" or "Toughbook") is currently produced only for the Japanese market, but can be bought from companies that specialize in providing just such products for the US, European, and other markets. (Such companies include Dynamism, GeekStuff4u, Kemplar, etc.) I bought mine from GeekStuff4u, in part because it was the only supplier I could find that would sell it to me "naked" -- without an installed copy of Windows. (Of course, that choice means that I cannot test components under Windows.)
The CF-Y5 provides a super tough (said to withstand a 3ft drop and a 100lb pressure test -- I obviously did not test those claims!), super light (3.3lbs with battery), 14.1" laptop with built-in DVD R/W and very long battery life (I am seeing 5 hours on constant wireless, 6-7 hours without wireless, but with a lot of disk activity, and nearly 8 hours with wireless off and the DVD de-powered through the BIOS). The Y5 is the latest iteration and comes with an ultra-low voltage Core Duo processor (mine is a L2300), a spill-proof keyboard (another feature I did not test!), faster memory, etc.; it also has a convenient hardware switch (a slider on the front edge) to turn off and on the wireless device. Here are the main components in mine (latest versions ship with an L2500, up to 120GB disk, and up to 2GB main memory). If you want to change the disk, consult the excellent photographic step-by-step description from Markus Fraenz (it's for a CF-Y2, but the case design of the CF-Y5 is very similar).
Because the machine is for the Japanese market, the standard keyboard for export is the Japanese International keyboard, which has more keys on it than the standard US keyboard and puts a number of punctuation marks and other non-alphanumeric characters in different places. I touch type, so I just ignore what's written on the punctuation keys ;-) The extra keys mean that the space bar is noticeably smaller than what I am accustomed to on US-market laptops -- it took me a couple of hours to get accustomed to it.
Below are tips on how to get things working under Debian. Since it took me some effort to set it up (not a lot more than for my several past Dells, NECs, and Sharps, all of which were also bleeding-edge in their time ;-), I thought I would share the experience.
Here is the status in a nutshell. Green means working out of the box, purple means easily done, but with some downloaded software not packaged under Debian, orange means working with some issues, and red means not supported. (Note that, when I write "Out of the box", I do not mean that the stock kernel in the distro will do it, just that it only takes compiling a new kernel to have it working.) It is quite a tribute to the Linux community that pretty much everything works -- the only red is for the (nearly useless) standby state, which, for all I know, may not exist under this BIOS anyway, and the two oranges denoting issues are both related to the peculiarities of the Intel 9xx integrated graphics chip family.
|Dual-Core Support||out of the box|
|Sleeping to Disk||works using the suspend2 package (easy to use, but requires kernel patch)|
|Sleeping to Memory||sleep from X works out of the box, but with varying issues on resumption|
|ACPI Events||out of the box|
|Frequency Management||out of the box|
|Video||works, but with a few issues; and clean switching between screen and external monitor/projector remains to be accomplished|
|Hotkeys||works, but requires installing PCC-ACPI driver|
|Ethernet||out of the box|
|DVD R/W||out of the box|
|Touchpad||out of the box|
|Sound||out of the box with kernel 2.6.20 and later, but speakers may not work under every kernel/ALSA combo|
|Wireless||works, but requires installing the IPW3945 driver|
|PCMCIA||out of the box|
|SD Card||out of the box with kernel 2.6.20 and later|
|Modem||works with sl-modem package|
I currently (April 2007) run kernel 2.6.20; here is the .config file for it. I had to download and install the following packages so far:
Hibernation via suspend2 works fine, but the resumption may have a display glitch, depending on the video driver -- see below for that. With the xf86-video-intel driver from Xorg (Debian package version 2.0.0, rather than the 1.6.5 and 1.7.2 that come with the regular Xorg 7.2 releases), there is no problem at all. With the drivers that are still named i810, I can get suspend to and resume from disk (swap device) with X running, 915resolution rerun, the wireless connection reestablished without missing a beat, but the X display is somewhat messed up (presumably because the 915resolution rerun comes too late, after the restoration of the X states) and the display, while legible, is distorted.
There is a cute icon on F10 (a very small "z" and a multiple disk platter ;-) for sleeping to disk; you can use it through the hotkeys mapping.
Now, /sys/power/state will show two possible states, disk and mem -- it does not identify a state standby. (Note that this is new starting with 220.127.116.11 -- under 18.104.22.168, it showed only the mem state!)
The usual command
echo -n "mem" > /sys/power/state
will put your machine in sleep-to-memory mode; sliding the power button will wake up the machine; both are very fast (3-4s in each direction). It works with no precautions at all (I am not using any script to shut down and restart various applications and daemons), but I do have audio and pcmcia (and of course, wireless and modem, but for those it's not a choice) compiled as kernel modules rather than built-in.
Curiously, the backlight does not come back on when the cycling is done from console, but it does when done from X (Xorg, in this case), although even then the consoles are not usable. Under the older, non-modesetting driver (still named i810, rather than intel), the display was fine on resumption, except for a small artifact (about 1/3 of a line, 1 pixel high, of variable location, that displays some other area of the buffer) -- no explanation for that, but see the final notes below. Under the newest driver, xf86-video-intel (Debian package 2.0.0), however, the display is distorted -- the driver still thinks it's 1400x1050, but the scaling is wrong (it seems to use about 3 horizontal pixels on the screen for every 2 pixels it's supposed to display, so you do not see the full screen). No explanation for that for now -- especially since the same driver switch that caused this problem with sleep-to-memory fixed the one with sleep-to-disk... It could be that some of the other drivers and daemons need to be shut down and restarted in the suspend script -- the hibernate script does that for sleep-to-disk.
There is a cute icon on F7 (a very small "z" and a memory chip ;-) for sleeping to memory; you can use it through the hotkeys mapping, but I use the ACPI lid event (see below for these events) to put my machine to sleep and wake it up.
MODE=5a XRESO=1400 YRESO=1050 BIT=32
One big change to these remarks with the latest Xorg driver (xf86-video-intel, version 2.0.0 and higher, rather than the previous xf86-vide0-i810): it no longer has any problem with resolution and makes use of the 915resolution package unnecessary.
Note that Debian will want to install Xorg, not XFree86. I have found that XFree86 is easier to install and configure; and it is *much* easier to update when you want it compiled from sources -- you just download the latest XFree86 snapshot, untar it, compile it, and install it. This has not failed me even once in many years on dozens of machines, whereas trying to compile Xorg from source (whether from the huge list of tar files or from the git repository) is a nearly hopeless endeavor. For all that, I currently run Xorg, because of display switching and modesetting issues, as noted above and further addressed below.
Finally, still on the issue of the X software suite, you will need to check that your setup supports direct rendering. For that, you may need to download and compile the latest drm and mesa libraries (I did) and they will not compile well against the XFree86 source -- they are meant to be compiled against the Xorg source. You only need direct rendering for GL graphics, of course, so whether to go to that trouble is up to you -- both XFree86 and Xorg will work fine without. (One last note: glxinfo may still tell you that you do not have direct rendering when in fact you do have it -- such is the case for me; use a GL graphics app, such as one of the standard tux games -- ppracer, tuxkart, etc., to test your rendering: if it's reasonably smooth, you have DRI, if it's ridiculously chopped up, you do not.)
The second issue is brightness control, through the hotkeys. For that, see the hotkeys section below: it can be done easily.
The last issue is switching between laptop screen and external monitor or projector. The hotkeys package will enable you to get the key with the switching icon (F3) detected, and the i810switch package should, theoretically, be able to support the switch, but so far I have not been able to get the switching working -- and there are resolution issues as well.
Some notes on this. The BIOS settings are dumb: you can enable the local display or an external monitor on them, but not both; if you set it on external monitor, it will use it (alone) if detected at boot time, otherwise it will use the LCD screen. If you want both external and laptop screens to work at the same time, you must rely on X to do it -- for instance, if you set the option MonitorLayout to "CRT+LFP,LFP" in the X config file, your X driver will "see" the connected projector or external monitor and will get its characteristics. However, note that the current 810/915 driver does not do modesetting (hence the need for 915resolution above), and so it is not able to alter the resolution for the typically lower-resolution projector (or typically higher-resolution monitor) that is connected -- the feed to the connected display will be the same resolution as that set to start with. So you have to rerun 915resolution to change the mode, then start X. This is quite annoying: you'd really just want to get X to reduce resolution through the usual Ctrl-Alt-(-), so as not to have to change all your settings. The latest Xorg xf86-video-intel is modesetting, however, so it may solve this issue -- stay tuned.
#!/bin/sh SPAN=1 grep -q off-line /proc/acpi/ac_adapter/*/state if [ $? = 0 ] then INTERFACE="dc_brightness" else INTERFACE="ac_brightness" fi BRIGHTNESS=$(( `cat /proc/acpi/pcc/$INTERFACE` + 0 )) MAXBRIGHT=$(( `cat /proc/acpi/pcc/"$INTERFACE"_max` - $SPAN)) MINBRIGHT=$(( `cat /proc/acpi/pcc/"$INTERFACE"_min` + $SPAN)) if [ "x$1" = "xdown" ]; then if [ $BRIGHTNESS -gt $MINBRIGHT ]; then BRIGHTNESS=$(( $BRIGHTNESS - $SPAN )) else BRIGHTNESS=$(( $MINBRIGHT - $SPAN )) fi echo $BRIGHTNESS > /proc/acpi/pcc/$INTERFACE elif [ "x$1" = "xup" ]; then if [ $BRIGHTNESS -lt $MAXBRIGHT ]; then BRIGHTNESS=$(( $BRIGHTNESS + $SPAN )) else BRIGHTNESS=$(( $MAXBRIGHT + $SPAN )) fi echo $BRIGHTNESS > /proc/acpi/pcc/$INTERFACE else echo >&2 Unknown argument $1 fi
There is a report for the related CF-R5 that the HDA driver should be set up as a module so it can be unloaded in order to get the machine to sleep and wake up properly; I have not verified the necessity, but my HDA subsystem is compiled as modules.
There is a report for the related CF-R5 that the PCMCIA driver should be set up as a module so it can be unloaded in order to get the machine to sleep and wake up properly; I have not verified the necessity, but my PCMCIA subsystem is compiled as modules.
With the latest driver, xf86-video-intel (as opposed to xf86-video-i810 in any flavor), that artifact no longer occurs, although I get issues of distortions when resuming from sleep-to-memory.
Finally, I have now had this machine since late July 2006 -- a bit over 9 months -- and have used it several hours every day. It is by far the best combination of portability, durability, and screen resolution I have found so far -- and I've had everything from 2lbs subnotebooks to 10lbs 17" luggable (not really portable) workstations (the great Dell M90, for instance). I could wish for it to be 16:9 rather than 4:3 -- i.e., to have it 1680x1050 instead of 1400x1050 -- and to have an NVIDIA graphics system rather than the problematic i945GM; I prefer the glossy "TrueLife" displays to the matte nonreflective ones as used on this machine (the glossy ones have much better contrast, even outdoors); and I would prefer for the power button not to be so brightly lit when the machine is on or in sleep-to-memory mode (as bright as a typical nightlight). But these are minor quibbles: in today's market, the overall package cannot be beat.