Ubuntu Linux on the Panasonic Y5

2010 Note: This document is fairly old. Many of the issues that I needed to solve below now work fine with, for example, a generic Ubuntu install. Yea for progress! So obviously make sure that things aren't working before trying the fixes below. On the other hand, the volume and screen brightness hotkeys stopped working with Ubuntu Hardy. See below for the fix.

Light, fast, durable.

Usually you only get to choose one. The Panasonic Toughbook Y5 gives you all three, with a decent size screen to boot. I love this notebook. It's superlight (almost to the point of feeling flimsy) but it's able to take serious abuse, as the Panasonic Toughbooks are known for. Not only that, but you can pour water on the keyboard, and it drains out the sides. And yes, I tested this out immediately upon receiving the laptop.

The only (minor) complaints I have are a lack of bluetooth, and the fact that they claim 8-9 hours of battery life when you only get just over 4 hours. And 4 hours is pretty damn respectable, it's just not even close to advertised. Also, the sound is pretty bad. I don't mind that the builtin speakers are weak, but for some reason the headphone jack isn't very loud either. Otherwise this laptop kicks ass.

Robert Thau mentions that he's able to get 8 hours on a new battery with Debian, and DVD/modem powered off through bios with half-dim LCD, and that it should be possible to get over 6 hours with normal behavior.

Also, regarding bluetooth, there is now a US version which has Bluetooth, see the bottom for how to find one.

After getting some great advice from Bernard Moret who also has an install page for the Y5, I decided to eschew my normal Debian installation choice to try out Ubuntu.

Let me add to the list of ass-kicking, Ubuntu is also amazing. It's by far the best linux install experience I've had, and it's on a bizzare Japanese import laptop. I like Debian, but they can't keep pace.

In the end, almost everything worked. First here's the machine specs, courtesy dynamism:

Technical Specifications
Panasonic Model: CF-Y5
Motherboard Features CPU:
L2 Cache:
Intel Centrino Core Duo L2500 1.83GHz
2 MB CPU integrated
512MB (1.5 GB Max) / 1GB (2GB max)
Intel 945 GMS Express
Storage HDD:
Optical Drives
120GB Ultra ATA100
Graphic / Video Features Chip:
Intel 945GMS Express
224MB (shared with main memory)
14.1" SXGA+ TFT
1400x1050 pixels @ 16M colors (external 1600x1200)
Interface PCMCIA:
Integrated ports:
Type II x 1 CardBus compatible
56K flex V.90 mini PCI fax/modem
802.11b/g Wireless LAN; v.90 modem (RJ-11) x1; LAN x1 (RJ-45); USB2.0 x2; VGA x1; microphone x1; headphones x1; SD Memory Card x1
Input / Output Devices Keyboard:
Pointing Device:
Battery Life:
85 key OADG, 19mm pitch, 2mm stroke
Standard Battery: 4.5 hours
Power Consumption:
A/C adapter:
~15W! (according to Power History applet)
Physical Features Size:

12.1(W) x 9.56(L) x 1.29 - 1.81 (H) [inch]
309 x 243 x 33 - 46[mm]
3.3 lbs / 1.5 kg

I used an Ubuntu 7.04 Beta DVD. To boot from the DVD drive you need to go into the BIOS settings and turn the drive to always on:

BIOS (F2 after boot) -> Menu "Main" -> CD/DVD Drive Power: ON

After that it's a piece of cake, everything works with a quick change for video. The touchpad is a wheelpad, which means that circular motion does scrolling, and that works as well. I have not tested the modem, nor do I care.

Linux Status

Works LCD Video - (see below)
~Works External Monitor
Works Ethernet / Wireless. See below. (wlan switch works)
~Works DVD R/W. See below
~Works Sound (ALSA/OSS?). See below
Works SD Card Reader
Works Keyboard / Touchpad
~Works Hotkey support (volume/screen brightness)
Works Sleep to RAM (suspend)
Works Sleep to Disk (hibernate)
Works Lid event (ACPI) - turns off LCD, can easily be set in control panels
Works CPU Frequency scaling - 2GHz/1.5GHz (see panel applet)
Untested Modem


Video basically works.

It used to be that you needed to use the intel driver instead of the 810/915 driver with the 915resolution package (to get 1400x1050).

With the intel driver currently supplied with Ubuntu, this does not seem to be the case.

If you have problems with the intel driver, you can change to i810: Simply edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf as root and change:

  Driver    "i810"
  Driver    "intel"

Bernard uses XFree86, but I found that Xorg worked fine for me. If you have the same problem he mentions about a stray line being screwed up in X after sleeping the computer, then update the driver (by installing "xlibs-static-dev" and "xserver-xorg-video-intel").

External Monitor

Robert Thau reports that the external monitor works with xorg.conf changes (at least in "presentation mode" - where the external display is a clone of the LCD). Edit the xorg.conf: Add the following to the 'Section "Device"' for the graphics controller:
        Option          "MonitorLayout" "CRT+LFP,None"
        Option          "Clone"         "yes"
And make a new 'Section "Monitor"' that is a copy of the generic/default monitor with the Identifier changed to "External Monitor"

Caveat: The external display must be plugged in when the X server starts, and it may not be scaled to the full screen, depending on your monitor's resolution.


First off, check and make sure your default alsa mixer master volume isn't set to zero. Furthermore, sometimes ALSA dies after waking up, but OSS still works. Evidently the solution to this is to make sure that ALSA is loaded as modules (snd_hda_intel, snd_hda_codec, etc..) and then make sure the hibernation script unloads/reloads the ALSA sound modules on sleep/wakeup. Thanks to Robert Thau for the suggestion.

Supposedly the microphone works if you upgrade your ALSA version: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HdaIntelSoundHowto

I used OSS at first. Hibernate would sometimes kill sound, but it seems that doing a suspend and waking back up will restore sound.

I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10 and the ALSA that comes with it seems to work.

2010 Note: ALSA needs you to set your default card properly:

% asoundconf list
Names of available sound cards:
% asoundconf set-default-card Intel

Wireless 802.11

The wireless works fine, but sometimes the NetworkManager (the menu of wireless networks) stops working, particularly after suspend or hibernate events. I've found a few ways to restart it, but the foolproof method seems to be to restart the dbus:

/etc/init.d/dbus restart

This will probably force a few things to reload, but it shouldn't do harm.


Can only be put to sleep on boot, and once woken up can't be put to sleep again. According to Dylan Schwilk this can be fixed on the Y7 with Ubuntu Gutsy with:

echo foo > /sys/devices/platform/bay.0/eject

The DVD uses the Intel ICH7 chipset, so you need to:

# modprobe piix

Doing that got me from 2MB/s to 8MB/s (using "hdparm -t /dev/scd0")

You need to install a bunch of packages to watch DVDs:

(as root)
# echo "deb http://medibuntu.sos-sts.com/repo/ feisty free non-free" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
# wget -q http://medibuntu.sos-sts.com/repo/medibuntu-key.gpg -O- | apt-key add -
# apt ins libdvdcss2 libdvdnav4 libdvdread3 w32codecs
# apt rem totem-gstreamer
# apt ins totem-xine
# apt ins gmplayer

I think that's all of them. Loading xine-ui as some pages suggest only caused problems. totem-gstreamer doesn't do DVD. totem-xine was supposed to fix that, but I can only get it to work with mplayer.

For gmplayer, you need to specify the 'x11' driver with the -vo option. For some reason, zoom isn't on by default, so add -zoom. The volume is awfully low, so I increase it with the 'volume' audio filter, and I set my default language to english. The final command line looks like this:

% gmplayer -vo x11 -zoom -af volume=20:0 -alang en dvd://
Then you can set this to automatically run for all video DVDs by changing this in the menu:
System -> Preferences -> Removable Drives and Media -> Multimedia

I was also having problems with mplayer crashing
MPlayer interrupted by signal 11 in module: decode_video

it helped if I turned up the RTC max freq: (As root):

% echo 1024 > /proc/sys/dev/rtc/max-user-freq
Alternatively, you can add this line to sysctl.conf:
Then run:
/etc/init.d/sysctl reload
to make the changes permanent. Running as root seems to help considerably as well.

I also noticed that if I had framedropping set to 'hard' then mplayer would immediately crash. Using framedropping 'enabled' instead fixed the problem.

I'm also trying to recompile mplayer to see if I can file a proper bug report.

If you have problems with the DVD player (or any video player) dying if it starts in full-screen mode, then you likely have a video installation problem.


Hotkey support disappeared with Ubuntu Hardy. This is because the Panasonic hotkey driver (pcc_acpi) was not updated to work with newer kernels (since 2.6.23). This is discussed in Ubuntu bug 222324 If your hotkeys don't work, first see if you just need to load the module:

# modprobe pcc_acpi

If that doesn't work, you need to patch and compile the module (fairly simple):

There are still some weirdness:

Where To Buy

A few places will import this from Japan:

Evidently there's a US version that comes with bluetooth, and you can get it from the last three retailers. There's also a Y7 that was just released, but I don't see anything compelling about the Y7 over the Y5, except for the 160G HD which I would love to have. And sadly it's the same price. Makes me wish I'd waited three weeks.


  • Thanks to Bernard Moret for the original reference.
  • Thanks to Robert Thau for his additional discoveries.

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