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I installed ubuntu 12.04 32 bit on my 64 bit dell inspiron (core i3) laptop. but after installing it the screen brightness is set to minimum and the brightness up/down keys dont function.

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Check here. Solved my issue for me: Unable to change Brightness Ubuntu 13.04 Toshiba Satellite A105.

I ran xrandr -q | grep " connected" and then xrandr --output LVDS1 --brightness [VALUE] and it changed the brightness, even when I had the same issue as you. This is a relatively short-term fix, as it doesn't stick around after a reboot, but it changes the brightness if you need it, say late at night.

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