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I'm upgrading the preinstalled version of Ubuntu on the Dell Vostro V130 notebook. During the upgrade, there were some errors concerning the dell-laptop kernel module.

What is this module, and what does it do?

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2 Answers

The driver in question can be found here:

http://lxr.linux.no/linux+v2.6.38/drivers/platform/x86/dell-laptop.c

On a quick scan of the code, it looks like it handles the rfkill switch (airplane mode), and backlight control.

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Are you sure? The preinstalled one seemed like some binary blob from dell. –  Let_Me_Be May 11 '11 at 9:04
    
Without knowing what error you saw, I can't say. There is a dell-laptop module distributed with the kernel though, and it does what I described. –  James Henstridge May 11 '11 at 9:18
    
The error wasn't very descriptive. It just noted that the module couldn't be upgraded to new kernel. But an in-kernel module wouldn't be distributed as dkms package, or would it? –  Let_Me_Be May 11 '11 at 10:02
    
It is difficult to say what the module does. It is possible that the OEM install included an updated version of the module distributed with DKMS (a framework designed to recompile modules as you upgrade the kernel), and that version no longer functioned with the new kernel. As I said, it is difficult to say more without knowing what the error was. –  James Henstridge May 12 '11 at 0:10
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Here's the documentation from the configuration menu that is used before compiling the kernel (parameter CONFIG_I8K, "Dell laptop support"):

This adds a driver to safely access the System Management Mode of the CPU on the Dell Inspiron 8000. The System Management Mode is used to read cpu temperature and cooling fan status and to control the fans on the I8K portables.

This driver has been tested only on the Inspiron 8000 but it may also work with other Dell laptops. You can force loading on other models by passing the parameter `force=1' to the module. Use at your own risk.

For information on utilities to make use of this driver see the I8K Linux utilities web site at: http://people.debian.org/~dz/i8k/

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