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MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

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MX-16_fan
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MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#1 Postby MX-16_fan » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:15 am

@all:

The DELL Latitude 3150 (http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/cty ... l3150w7pf2) which I presently have here has what DELL calls an "Ambient Light Sensor (ALS)". Looks like this is standard in all kinds of DELL Latitude models, and other DELL notebook models, so the following problem is probably of importance for a vast number of users.

Here's the problem: Automatic screen backlight brightness control (using the ALS) simply doesn't work.

The DELL 3150 Owner's Manual is of little help here: It indicates that when "LCD Brightness" is configured in the UEFI, this seems to switch off the ambient sensor (cf. https://www.manualslib.com/manual/93482 ... ml?page=34). False information IMHO, because there is no UEFI option whatsoever to tell your system that you want to go "auto brightness". So, as far as I understand it, all you get from reducing brightness in the UEFI to, say, 80% is that you'll have a screen that's permanently on 80%. Doesn't help.

(When I first installed MX-16.1, I had "LCD Brightness" set to 100% in the UEFI.)

After hours of research I seem to have found a possible two-step solution:


1)

E.g. for Microsoft Windows Vista, DELL provides something called "Dell Ambient Light Sensor Utility" (see here: http://www.dell.com/support/home/en/en/ ... erId=GCFV2). Seems that the equivalent to that in Linux is the iio-sensor-proxy package (https://github.com/hadess/iio-sensor-proxy).

Unfortunately I cannot find iio-sensor-proxy package in MX-16, neither in "Stable" nor in the MX Test Repo nor in Debian Backports. Ubuntu has it, Arch has it, Debian Sid has it, Fedora has it, but MX-16 doesn't have it. The tool's developers say that it has already been tested on the following DELL models: Inspiron 13 7000, Venue 11 Pro (7140) and Venue 8 Pro (see https://github.com/hadess/iio-sensor-pr ... /README.md).

In case that this is the right package to be used, would it be possible to provide it for MX-16 despite the ugly GCC and systemd requirements listed (cf. https://packages.debian.org/sid/iio-sensor-proxy)?


2)

Apart from the software controller issue: Using the standard keyboard (which is unlit), the non-UEFI backend function for switching to auto-brightness is hidden, if available at all. I found that out when I saw that there are internal upgrade keyboards on the markets that have one additional "Fn" function in the function keys row. There don't seem to be many on the market yet, but the nice thing is that they are to be compatible with all of the following:

Latitude 12 5000 (E 5250/E5250), (E 5270/E5270), 12-7000 (E 7250/E7250), (E 7270/E7270), (3150), (3160), and for the XPS 12 9250. (Don't ask me what the brackets may mean, I don't know. Compatibilty information might be partially wrong, I just got this information from different online shop offers.)

Btw., I guess that the Ambient Light Sensor is used for controlling both screen and keyboard brightness.

If you care to see what the extra symbol for activating the ambience light sensor automatic control looks like, you can see it here: http://www.igopart.com/us-black-backlit ... -9250.html (look at the "F10" key). (Btw. http://www.igopart.com is a very good website if you want to get a first quick overview regarding DELL notebook product lines and product models.)

Simply typing "Fn+F10" didn't do anything on the old internal standard keyboard I have here, so I just ordered one of these new backlit upgrade keyboards for testing (still waiting). I'll report if it works as soon as I have tested it.

I'm greatly looking forward to any hint that leads to a full solution of this problem.

I suppose it is adviseable to make a personal snapshot using mx-snapshot (https://mxlinux.org/wiki/help-files/hel ... o-snapshot) before applying any changes to the OS for testing purposes.


Greetings, and a nice weekend to all of you, Joe

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Re: MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#2 Postby MX-16_fan » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:14 pm

UPDATE ON THE KEYBOARD ISSUE ONLY:

O.k., seems like I have been too optimistic. Regarding only length and width and key sizes, the new keyboard does fit in the 3150. However, the 3150 model that I have here is not prepared to take the keyboard's extra depth resulting from an additional flat lighting power cable on the back, plus there's nothing to plug the cable into. So you can probably delete the 3150 from the compatibility list of this keyboard. (I'm writing "probably" because DELL might have changed this on later 3150 models). Wrong information by the seller in this case, obviously.

Btw. it seems that the above-mentioned Fn+F10 key is to switch on keyboard lighting only, whereas screen brightness would rely on information provided by the Ambient Light Sensor.

FYI, the original model's name was "MP-13P1", and the not-quite-compatible illuminated model's name is MP-13P2 or MP-14xx (I intended to take a photo of the label, but I forgot).

The original DELL screws inside were of such bad quality that I had do use a Dremel-type of tool and additional tools in order to get three of them out. Bad experience.

Greetings, Joe

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Re: MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#3 Postby skidoo » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:22 pm

websearch "linux screen brightness DELL Latitude" returns quite a few leads:

https://askubuntu.com/questions/476664/cannot-change-backlight-brightness-ubuntu-14-04
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/backlight (find in page: dell)


yaaaaargh... Captain Obvious

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Re: MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#4 Postby Stevo » Tue Oct 03, 2017 4:32 pm

Does that relate to the automatic brightness adjustment?

I looked at the dependencies of the Sid package for iio-sensor-project, and don't see anything that's not available in MX 16 offhand. But the github pages says there is a kernel bug that prevents it from working until a suspend and resume. Have you tried a test install of the deb?

You really should consider setting up a backports build system yourself...be a DIYer!. One using pdebuilder just involves adding a configuration file I posted, then copying and pasting a few commands into the terminal and waiting a few minutes. The package builds are isolated from the system, I use it to build wheezy, jessie, and stretch packages on my MX 16 system for i386 and amd64 architectures..even other arches such as armhf for the Pi!

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Re: MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#5 Postby MX-16_fan » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:36 pm

@skidoo:

skidoo wrote:websearch "linux screen brightness DELL Latitude" returns quite a few leads:
:
https://askubuntu.com/questions/476664/cannot-change-backlight-brightness-ubuntu-14-04


I'd read that one before, but the discussion there doesn't really seem to really apply to this problem. That thread is about manual brightness control, not about automatic brightness control.

skidoo wrote:https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/backlight (find in page: dell)


This is an interesting, albeit technically sick, Arch wiki article IMHO. Lots of tipps about trying to replace missing ambient light sensors by combining geolocation and time or using other sensors not specified for this purpose, or for employing systemd for a most trivial task. But no direct hint at a solution to the exact problem described here, as far as I have understood this article.


Greetings, Joe

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Re: MX-16: Screen brightness isn't being auto-adjusted on a DELL Latitude 11 3150 (and probably many others)

#6 Postby MX-16_fan » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:08 pm

@Stevo:

Stevo wrote:Does that relate to the automatic brightness adjustment?

I looked at the dependencies of the Sid package for iio-sensor-project, and don't see anything that's not available in MX 16 offhand. But the github pages says there is a kernel bug that prevents it from working until a suspend and resume. Have you tried a test install of the deb?


I'd love to, but I can't do that on the machine I have here. My friend needs it for productive use right now, and he (we, actually) had bad experiences with an alien .deb in a prior installation (it basically wrecked his system even though having installed fine, plus this wreckage wouldn't go away after uninstalling the package).

Besides, my personal experience is that alien package tests are of little use. They always work something like 65%, but you can never tell if bad function of the other 35% is due to the application or due to the fact that it is an alien package that doesn't integrate 100%.

Package from the MX Test Repo would be absolutely tolerable in this case, he already has some "Test" packages running in productive use. I'd gladly report if this brings any change.[/quote]


Stevo wrote::
You really should consider setting up a backports build system yourself... (...) One using pdebuilder just involves adding a configuration file I posted, then copying and pasting a few commands into the terminal and waiting a few minutes. The package builds are isolated from the system, I use it to build wheezy, jessie, and stretch packages on my MX 16 system for i386 and amd64 architectures..even other arches such as armhf for the Pi!


Stevo, thanks, that is really nice!

I do greatly appreciate this compliment from someone as competent as you.

Even though I'd would love to tell otherwise, I do, however, have to admit that you are indeed greatly overestimating my capabilities.

As long as you professionals agree that my enquiries are no-nonsense stuff, I'd glady leave package building to you professional package builders and invest all time I have available into system and application testing, adaption and tweaking and (use case) documentation.

BUT: Thanks so much anyway, your statement really saved my day :happy:.


Greetings, and have a nice weekend, Joe


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