darkmav2011
Bronze

Alienware 17 R4 (Nov. 2016) and Linux

Hi everyone,

For a few days, I've been experimenting with Arch Linux on my new Alienware 17 R4. The main problem -- actually the only one I'm really concerned about -- is the inability to control screen brightness in GNOME or KDE in Arch Linux.

A description of the current status of my efforts to get Arch Linux to work is posted at the Arch Linux forums: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=219589

It seems that although this laptop comes with an Intel and an NVIDIA graphics card, there is no option to disable either card in the BIOS. Also, the GUI works in Linux without the need to install something like Bumblebee. In fact, Bumblebee crashes X. On all my previous Optimus systems, I've had to get Bumblebee to work.

Moreover, I couldn't figure out what the "I/D GFX" key (Fn + F7) does. Is it meant to work only in Windows?

Anyhow, to test whether the screen brightness issue was specific to Arch, I created a Live USB of Kubuntu (the KDE/Plasma variant of Ubuntu). With some lag, the Ubuntu installer does start, but when I click on "Try Kubuntu" (to boot into the live environment) the system goes into a loop. There's presumably a way to get out of it, but I haven't tried it.

If someone has any ideas about how to get the screen brightness control to become active, please do write back!

Thanks!

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4 Replies

RE: Alienware 17 R4 (Nov. 2016) and Linux

From my experience. Everything works fine if you switch to NVidia only in your windows system. Just make sure you have blocklisted nouveau and installed the nvidia module

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darkmav2011
Bronze

RE: Alienware 17 R4 (Nov. 2016) and Linux

Thanks for replying infinite_light.

When you say "switch to Nvidia only", how do you do this in Windows? Do you mean Fn + F7? If yes, I get a message saying "This is  not compatible for the GSYNC LCD panel."

Also, nouveau is blacklisted, and nvidia is installed. Yet, I can't seem to be able to change the screen brightness.

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AstralNyt
Copper

RE: Alienware 17 R4 (Nov. 2016) and Linux

Just happened across this and thought I'd let you know that I installed CentOS 7, dual boot with UEFI and Secure Boot enabled. Using Nouveau, screen brightness functions through Gnome interface, though I have not mapped any of the function keys yet, nor tried KDE.

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darkmav2011
Bronze

RE: Alienware 17 R4 (Nov. 2016) and Linux

Thanks AstralNyt!

Can you try the NVIDIA drivers instead of the Nouveau driver, and let us know if your brightness is still controllable? With the latest drivers on Arch, it doesn't work for me. I have no experience with CentOS.

What I learned from Dell last month is that on this system, the Intel graphics card is never used, and the Fxn+F7 key is therefore disabled (it beats me why the F7 key is there in the first place, but that is a different debate). This is a feature of GSYNC-enabled systems.

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