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I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my Vaio laptop (model VPCSB11FX) last night and one of the issues I'm having is that the keyboard backlighting doesn't work.

I saw this question solving a similar problem for 11.10, but the solution suggested there isn't available to me: /sys/devices/platform/sony-laptop/kbd_backlight doesn't exist on my machine.

Is there anything else I can do or try?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

There must be a driver involved, or a module that has to be loaded. Try first:

sudo modprobe -v sony-laptop

This will load the module. Then try the suggestions.

The description of sony-laptop explains the parameters involved:

$ modinfo sony-laptop


parm: no_spic:set this if you don't want to enable the SPIC device (int)

parm: compat:set this if you want to enable backward compatibility mode (int)

parm: mask:set this to the mask of event you want to enable (see doc) (ulong)

parm: camera:set this to 1 to enable Motion Eye camera controls (only use it if you have a C1VE or C1VN model) (int)

parm: minor:minor number of the misc device for the SPIC compatibility code, default is -1 (automatic) (int)

parm: kbd_backlight:set this to 0 to disable keyboard backlight, 1 to enable it (default: 0) (int)

parm: kbd_backlight_timeout:set this to 0 to set the default 10 seconds timeout, 1 for 30 seconds, 2 for 60 seconds and 3 to disable timeout (default: 0) (int)

So 1 to enable, 0 to disable.

Temporary solution:

sudo modprobe -v sony-laptop kbd_backlight=1

To turn it off:

sudo rmmod -v sony-laptop; sudo modprobe -v sony-laptop kbd_backlight=0

Permanent solution (always on when you boot):

echo "options sony-laptop kbd_backlight=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/sony-laptop.conf

(You have to reboot for changes to take effect)

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That doesn't work. I get the following error: tee: /sys/devices/platform/sony-laptop/kbd_backlight: No such file or directory. – Adam Lear Aug 3 '12 at 14:14
Hrm. And now backlighting seems to work. I'm going to assume this is because of one of the steps you listed here. Thanks! – Adam Lear Aug 4 '12 at 2:44
sudo modprobe -v sony-laptop kbd_backlight=1 should do the same thing – medigeek Aug 6 '12 at 15:12

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