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It seems something else than gnome-power-manager manages the backlight dim timeout on Thinkpads, maybe thinkpad-acpi.

How do you alter the timeout from 5 seconds? (which is very annoying)

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The display driver might take a role in here. What display driver are you using? – Thomas Nov 2 '11 at 20:56
The official nvidia one. I remember having much trouble about the display driver in the beginning. – jonallard Nov 2 '11 at 22:38
Can't say for nvidia. The Radeon Catalyst Control Panel has an option "Vari-Bright" that, when enabled, produces the behavior you described. – Thomas Nov 3 '11 at 17:01

I had this issue on a Thinkpad x220. The following message showed up in /var/log/dmesg:

[ 10.262915] thinkpad_acpi: Standard ACPI backlight interface available, not loading native one

You can tell linux to let a vendor specific driver (thinkpad_acpi) handle the backlight by passing the acpi_backlight=vendor option to the kernel.

To do this:

  1. Edit /etc/default/grub
  2. Add acpi_backlight=vendor to the list of options in GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT
  3. Run sudo update-grub

The backlight is now managed by thinkpad_acpi and does not dim after 5 secs.

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Works for me (Ubuntu 15.04, T430). Thanks! – krlmlr Jul 12 '15 at 18:58

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