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Rugged laptops (finally) run Linux

Sep 25, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 329 views

EmperorLinux has started reselling three rugged “Panasonic Toughbook” laptops (and one rugged tablet) with Linux preinstalled: the Scarab, Ant, Wasp, and Tarantula. The CF-model ToughBooks join other “Windows-only” laptops and tablets that have been tuxified for customized resale by EmperorLinux, including models from Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, and Sony.

Panasonic has been selling its popular, ruggedized Toughbooks for years in the Windows market, including Toughbook panel computers such as the Toughbook CF08. EmperorLinux is now offering four Toughbooks, including a panel PC model, with a choice of Linux distributions, including Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu, as well as features customized to user requirements.

Panasonic Scarab CF-52 (left) and Ant CF-U1 (right)

EmperorLinux's Linux-ready Panasonic Toughbook models, include, in order of ascending price:

  • Scarab Rugged Linux (Panasonic Toughbook CF-52) — Featuring shock-mounted drives and a 7.5-lbs magnesium alloy case, the Scarab is equipped with a 2.26GHz to 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB RAM. The semi-rugged notebook provides a 15.4-inch WUXGA display, a 160GB hard disk drive (HDD), gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth, says EmperorLinux.
  • Ant Rugged Linux (Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1) — This compact, 2.3-pound tablet PC offers handwriting recognition and MIL-spec certification for vibration, drop, and moisture resistance. Equipped with a 1.33Ghz Intel Atom and 1GB RAM, the device ships with a 16GB to 32GB solid-state drive (SSD). Offering a 5.6-inch WSVGA touchscreen, the Ant provides 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth for communications.
  • Wasp Rugged Linux (Panasonic Toughbook CF-19) — MIL-spec rated for its shock-mounted drives and moisture resistance, the 5-lbs, netbook-sized Wasp offers tablet-like features such as handwriting recognition. The Wasp ships with a 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and 2GB of RAM, and offers a 10.4-inch XGA touchscreen with digitizer support and a swivel-mounted convertible design, letting users fold down the screen for tablet use. Others features include a 160GB HDD, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth.
  • Tarantula Rugged Linux (Panasonic Toughbook CF-30) — This rugged, 8.4-lbs laptop offers MIL-spec rated moisture protection and shock-mounted drives. Equipped with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, with 2GB RAM standard, the Tarantula provides a 13.3-inch XGA touchscreen. Others features include a 160GB HDD, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth.

Panasonic Wasp CF-19 (left) and Tarantula CF-30(right)

Other Linux-ready laptop lines from EmperorLinux include:

  • Dell Caiman E6400XFR, Koala E4200, Tiger E6400, and Rhino M4400
  • Fujutsu LifeBook Pirhanha P1620, LifeBook Stingray ST5112, and LifeBook Tetra U810
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Raven X200, ThinkPad Toucan W500, and ThinkPad Raptor W700
  • Sony Vaio Kiwi TT2x0, Vaio Silvercomet Z790, and Vaio Gazelle GW490

The VAR Guy ran an item on EmperorLinux's Toughbook offerings, included videos taken during the Atlanta Linux Fest last week of EmperorLinux CEO Lincoln Durey demonstrating a Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1 running Ubuntu. The story may be found here.

Some other recent ruggedized laptops, ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs), and tablet PCs that are available with Linux include:

  • Technology Advancement Group (TAG) TC-100 Commander UMPC with a 7-inch display
  • Nova Mobility Solutions SideArm2 SA2I tablet PC with 7-inch display
  • Kontron NotePAC Duo ruggedized notebook with a 12.1-inch display


Linux-ready Panasonic Toughbooks from EmperorLinux are said to be available now at the following prices: Scarab CF-52mk2 ($2,420 to $3,050), Ant CF-U1 ($3,220 to $3,850), Wasp CF-19mk3 ($4,500 to $4,700), Tarantula CF-30mk3 ($4,350 to $5,000).

EmperorLinux's Pansonic Toughbook page may be found here. Panasonic's Toughbook page may be found here.

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