Linux on the Panasonic Toughbook CF-M34

V1.1, 22-06-2003


This is a survey about Linux related hardware features of the Panasonic Toughbook CF-M34 (Model T42ACG = Mk1). It should be applicable to the CF-17, too.
I will only give you the model-specific informations necessary to get Linux running on your Toughbook, nothing more, nothing less.

H.P. Stroebel <>


I have installed Debian GNU/Linux (3.0 woody) with a standard kernel 2.4.19 by now, and the Debian installation kernel 2.4.18 as a backup kernel.

Installing Linux (yet, any OS) can be quite interesting, if you don`t have the CF-M34 FDD drive and the port replicator to boot at least an OS with PCMCIA or USB drivers to access a network or external drive. The BIOS cannot boot from USB. The latest BIOS from Panasonic is IIRC from March 2001, I did not test it yet because I don`t have any M$ OS installed.

My Toughbook came with a preinstalled M$ Windows NT 4.0, and crashed immediately after finishing the installation procedure. A good start to make the computer "legacy free", wiping all Windoze off the disk.

I decided to attach the HDD drive to my CF-71 notebook for installation, to install directly from CD-ROM. Use a high quality screwdriver in order to avoid damage to the screws when opening the case. Unfortunately, the connectors of the HDD case are not pin compatible to other Panasonic models, so you have to open the HDD protection case, too. Be very careful not to damage the IDE flat wire.

A BIOS that can boot from USB (CD-ROM, memory stick) would be quite useful for this computer.


X-Window working
Framebuffer  working
Touchscreen working
Touchpad working
USB working
PCMCIA working
Sound unstable
(Win)Modem working
APM working
ACPI not tested

General Hardware Data

Intel Celeron (Mendocino), 300 MHz, 128 kB Cache

It performs better than I expected. All operations will not take too much patience, even if it does take some time to start KDE 2.1.2. If it is up and running, one can work quite well (I don`t edit any images). I use Oroborus, fspanel, DeskMenu, Opera and some console applications. DON`T consider trying to use OpenOffice with a Celeron 300!

It will come with 32 or 64 MB RAM installed, and one memory slot free. Even if the manual claims a maximum of 96/128 MB, I installed a 128 MB module and have now 192 MB without any problems.

When you go to the hardware store to buy RAM, you might consider to buy a 3,5" IDE adapter for 2,5" HDDs, too. It allows you to attach a 2,5" HDD drive for installation to nearly any desktop computer, if necessary in case of crash, recovery, replacement etc. It is much cheaper than the Panasonic FDD, and will easily fit in your computer bag (if -even for a Toughbook- you use one).

Hard Disk

Nothing special here to say. Don`t mess up the hibernation partition at the beginning. (You might recreate it with lphdisk).

You need the low profile 2,5"-HDD models, higher units will not fit into the HDD protection case. Consider this when buying spare parts.


Nothing special here to say. Just one Type II slot, so Xircom RealPort cards cannot be used. IRQ 10.


The graphic chip is a NeoMagic 256AV with 2.5 MB (!) RAM; so I use the neomagic driver from XFree 4.1.

I run it under X with 800x600@16M, at the console with the vesa-fb framebuffer driver at 800x600@64K (video mode 0x314).

The touchpad is attached to /dev/psaux and uses the PS/2 protocol. Enable 3-Button-Emulation. You won`t use it that much, as it is the worst touchpad I have ever seen, maybe caused by it`s shock and water protection.


The sound chip is the Neomagic 256AV audio chip, a strange device that want`s to share the graphic chip`s video memory... The corresponding nm256_audio driver should be loaded _before_ the X graphics driver.

After some investigation i found out that it was necessary to pass the

parameter to the module (The 2.4.19 module maybe will produce an error output telling you a wrong parameter..) Add it to /etc/modules.conf, or pass it with modconf, which will add it to /etc/modules.conf for you.

Caution: This may be the reason for frequent crashes, so it might be a good idea to use extfs3. I hope at least that the NeoMagic folks aren`t too proud of this crap.

I suppose the reason to be a conflict with the shared IRQ 10 (used by USB, modem, PCMCIA, the NeoMagic chipset and maybe even by your neighbours microwave oven and vacuum cleaner). Loading the nm256_audio driver before all others does not much improve this behavior, I still have 80% crashes when loading the driver. Debian`s installation kernel seems to work well instead, but without modem support. I do not have ANY clue what could be the reason.
Maybe I`ll give the ALSA driver a try sooner or later. The commercial OSS driver works, but it`s quite bad sound quality, very sloppy performance. With the the kernel`s nm256_audio driver instead, sound quality is okay, but don`t expect HiFi quality from a 1-inch speaker.

Internal Modem

The modem is a Xircom MSPCI model, which uses a Lucent (Agere) Winmodem chipset. I took the lt_modem driver from here, and passed the vendor_id=0x11cc and the device_id=0x0420 (taken from /proc/pci) as module parameters, as the driver did not initialize the modem by default. After correct installation you should have a working /dev/ttyLT0 device. See the drivers documentation for details.


Seems to be a standard onboard controller, but the (optional, expensive) FDD is external and can only be connected to the (optional, expensive) port replicator. I do not have the FDD drive, so I can`t tell anything about it. My CF-71`s FDD with the external parallel cable does not work, so I suppose you need the CF-M34-specific one.


Gunze AHL/M serial model

After quite some evenings of trial and error I finally got it it to work. Use the gunzets driver that you find here, and follow it`s installation instructions.

The device is attached to /dev/ttyS3, and uses IRQ7. Be sure to activate it in the BIOS settings. Note that it`s an UART 16550A, the connection speed is 9600.

The secret of getting the device to work is the correct serial configuration (yes, I _should have_ read the Linux-Serial-HOWTO long before...).


   uart 16550A port 0x02e8 irq 7 baud_base 115200 divisor 12

as it`s configuration settings with setserial, and you should have it up and running. (9600 baud, 8N1).

Test your serial configuration using

   od /dev/ttyS3

before testing the gunzets driver; touching the screen and moving the pen (real freaks have a "tuned" finger nail, I`ve been told...) should produce some more or less ordinated output. If not, your serial configuration is not correct, so you won`t get gunzets to work.

Survey PCI Devices

Output from lspci:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 82440MX I/O Controller (rev 01)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Neomagic Corporation [MagicMedia 256AV] (rev 20)
00:02.1 Multimedia audio controller: Neomagic Corporation [MagicMedia 256AV Audio] (rev 20)
00:03.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03)
00:03.1 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI1450 (rev 03)
00:04.0 Communication controller: Lucent Microelectronics: Unknown device 0420 (rev 01)
00:07.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corp. 82440MX PCI to ISA Bridge (rev 01)
00:07.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82440MX EIDE Controller
00:07.2 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82440MX USB Universal Host Controller
00:07.3 Bridge: Intel Corp. 82440MX Power Management Controller


This document has nothing to do with Panasonic, they don't even know it exists. There is no guarantee that the information on this page is accurate, please don't hold me responsible if your experience is different from the information here.

Feel free to mail me if you have questions, tips or additions. I will not answer general installation issues, however (RTFM).

This report was first generated by lanoche v0.6 Thu Feb 27 04:25:54 CET 2003.