If I try to change screen brightness on my Dell XPS15 with Fn + F11 or Fn + F12 or in the System Settings Dialogue, nothing happens. The bar indicating the screen brightness changes but the screen stays at a constant brightness, except when I turn the brightness off, the screen goes dark. I tried changing the grub settings as indicated here: Unable to change the brightness on my Dell XPS 15 (L502X), but that didn't change anything. Has anyone encountered this problem before and can tell me how to solve it?


I had the exact same behaviour than you so hopefully this will solve your issue:

In a terminal Ctrl + T type acpi_listen and press alternatively the luminosity up and down keys F11 and F12 you should get and output similar to the one below.

alexisv@SlingBeast-XPS15:~$ acpi_listen
 PNP0C14:02 000000d0 00000000
video/brightnessup BRTUP 00000086 00000000
 PNP0C14:02 000000d0 00000000
video/brightnessup BRTUP 00000086 00000000
 PNP0C14:02 000000d0 00000000
video/brightnessdown BRTDN 00000087 00000000
 PNP0C14:02 000000d0 00000000
video/brightnessdown BRTDN 00000087 00000000

That tells us the BIOS is registering the key presses and forwarding them to the OS correctly.

Now press Ctrl + C to exit from acpi_listen and type lspci, in my case I was looking for the Intel VGA chip PCI id.

00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Sky Lake PCIe Controller (x16) (rev 07)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Skylake Integrated Graphics (rev 06)
00:04.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Skylake Processor Thermal Subsystem (rev 07)

Then still in the terminal type:

sudo nano /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf

The file didn't existed so I created it, paste into the newly created file the following content:

Section "Device"
        Identifier  "card0"
        Driver      "intel"
        Option      "Backlight"  "intel_backlight"
        BusID       "PCI:0:2:0"

The BusID section should match the "VGA compatible controller:..." ID retrieved previously with lspci. "00:02:0" becomes "PCI:0:2:0"

Save it, log out and restart.

That did for me. Creating the missing X config file got rid of the behaviour you described.

Let me know if it works.

  • @user1435514 what if at the first step I only get PNP0C14:03 000000d0 00000000? Jul 28 '17 at 18:11
  • it looks like the action regarding display control is not executed, sometimes there is a switch on laptops called FN to change behavior of the buttons, is it your case or you have single function button to control brightness?
    – kensai
    Oct 18 '18 at 6:28
  • While this worked for me, it broke steam which now reports "OpenGL GLX extension not supported by display". So I have to remove and add this file if I want to play games or a functioning backlight.
    – mjibson
    Apr 23 '19 at 2:40

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