Alienware M11x

From ArchWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This wiki page documents the configuration and troubleshooting specific to the Alienware M11x laptop.

See the Installation guide for installation instructions.


The Broadcom Corporation Device 4353 (rev 01)(14e4:4353) 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO adapter is the stock wireless device for the M11x (R1).

See Broadcom wireless.


Works out-of-the-box. See ALSA.


See Synaptics.


- For Alienware M11x R1 owners: The Alienware M11x R1 has 2 video cards, and can be manually changed with the system BIOS (accessed by pushing F2 during system POST) ::

  • Switchable => Linux will use the Intel 4500HD internal video
  • Discrete => Linux will use the NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M

Alienware M11x R1 users running Linux have some tools available which will interact with the hybrid video cards in this laptop.

  • Bumblebee is a software implementation based on VirtualGL and a kernel driver to be able to use the dedicated GPU. Alienware M11x R1 users CAN use this method to switch between the Onboard/Intel and the Discrete/NVIDIA without a system reboot and/or BIOS change (yet the BIOS would need to be set for Switchable).
  • acpi_call allows you to disable+power down the Discrete/NVIDIA card when the system is booted while BIOS Graphics mode is set to => Switchable
  • vga_switcheroo allows one to switch between the Onboard/Intel and the Discrete/NVIDIA without a system reboot and/or BIOS change (yet the BIOS would need to be set for Switchable). vga_switcheroo has been reported as non-functional at this state for Alienware M11x users. is a great site to check out for up-to-date information regarding the state of hybrid graphics in Linux.

- For Alienware M11x R2 owners: There are detailed instructions on how to switch on/off the discrete NVIDIA graphics card on the Optimus (R2) models for the Alienware M11x laptop.

- For Alienware M11x R3 owners: Many of the methods for running Optimus & bumblebeed on the M11xR3 are the same or similar to the M11xR2 however the acpi calls are different for this model.


Bumblebee is a solution to Nvidia Optimus hybrid-graphics technology allowing to use the dedicated graphics card for rendering. It was started by Martin Juhl.

See Bumblebee for details.


ACPI_CALL is a kernel module that enables you to call parameterless ACPI methods by writing the method name to /proc/acpi/call, e.g. to turn off the discrete graphics card in a dual graphics environment. acpi_call works on the Alienware M11x R1 for disabling the discrete video card + powering it down successfully. Make sure you boot with BIOS set to switchable' ::

  • Grab the acpi_call-git AUR package[dead link 2020-03-28 ⓘ](IMHO it is working pretty stable), and skip the manual installation/compilation of acpi_call.
    • OR you can grab acpi_call and compile manually. Please see the acpi_call site for details on compilation if you wish to compile manually.

acpi_call Usage

# modprobe acpi_call
# grep rate /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state
# echo '\_SB.PCI0.P0P2.PEGP._OFF' > /proc/acpi/call
# grep rate /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state
  1. Modprobe the acpi_call module
  2. Check the current battery mW usage (not necessary)
  3. Echo '\_SB.PCI0.P0P2.PEGP._OFF' to (the now existing since acpi_call was loaded) /proc/acpi/call
  4. Check the current battery mW usage again to see that it dropped (not necessary)
  • Both #2 and #4 as noted are not necessary, they just demonstrate that the battery usage is dropping as long as you do them in the order listed here.

m11rx2hack[dead link 2020-03-28 ⓘ]


# Based on m11xr2hack by George Shearer

if ! lsmod | grep -q acpi_call; then
echo "Error: acpi_call module not loaded"

acpi_call () {
echo "$*" > /proc/acpi/call
cat /proc/acpi/call

case "$1" in
echo NVOP $(acpi_call "\_SB.PCI0.PEG0.PEGP.NVOP 0 0x100 0x1A {255,255,255,255}")
echo _PS3 $(acpi_call "\_SB.PCI0.PEG0.PEGP._PS3")
echo _PS0 $(acpi_call "\_SB.PCI0.PEG0.PEGP._PS0")
echo "Usage: $0 [on|off]"


Currently, Alienware M11x R1 owner reports indicate the vga_switcheroo method is not functional.

This explains how-to use VGA_SWITCHEROO for troubleshooting ::

  • kernel configuration flag - ensure CONFIG_VGA_SWITCHEROO is set as module, or built-in :: CONFIG_VGA_SWITCHEROO=y/m
sudo modprobe vgaswitcheroo
sudo mount -t debugfs none /sys/kernel/debug
cd /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo
cat switch
  1: :Pwr:0000:01:00.0

echo "DDIS" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch <= switch to discrete card
echo "DIGD" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch <= switch to onboard card
echo "OFF" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch <= power-down the card not in use

Use 'nvidia-settings' to configure the video card, and multiple screens if using the discrete/NVIDIA card.

Backlight Brightness

  • When booting into Arch Linux using NVIDIA/discrete video card just change brightness using the FUNCTION+F4 = brightness up, and FUNCTION+F5 = brightness down - also 'nvidia-settings' should allow brightness settings changes too.
  • When booting into Arch Linux using the INTEL/onboard video card, the only way to change brightness levels requires passing a command through 'setpci', the following script works fine (ymmv).

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements. See Help:Style for reference.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: REQUIREMENTS: Template:bc, and setpci (Discuss in Talk:Alienware M11x#)
  1. create a file @ /sbin/backlight
  2. sudo chown root:video /sbin/backlight
  3. sudo chmod 750 /sbin/backlight
  4. make sure to add the username allowed to change the backlight settings to the video group in /etc/group
  5. create an alias in your shell startup, and turn the brightness up or down via command, in turn you could tie this to a button combination in your xwindow manager settings.
alias brup='/sbin/backlight up'
alias brdown='/sbin/backlight down'
alias brget='/sbin/backlight get'
alias brup '/sbin/backlight up'
alias brdown '/sbin/backlight down'
alias brget '/sbin/backlight get'


# increase/decrease/set/get the backlight brightness (range 0-255) by 16
#get current brightness in hex and convert to decimal
# REQUIRES: bc, and setpci
var1=`sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B`
 case "$1" in
              #calculate new brightness
              var2=`echo "ibase=10; obase=16; a=($var1d+16);if (a<255) print a else print 255" | bc`
              echo "$0: increasing brightness from 0x$var1 to 0x$var2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$var2
              #calculate new brightness
              var2=`echo "ibase=10; obase=16; a=($var1d-16);if (a>15) print a else print 15" | bc`
              echo "$0: decreasing brightness from 0x$var1 to 0x$var2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$var2
              #n.b. this does allow "set 0" i.e. backlight off
              echo "$0: setting brightness to 0x$2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$2
              echo "$0: current brightness is 0x$var1"
              if [ $var1d -eq 0 ] ; then
                      echo "toggling up"
                      sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=FF
                      echo "toggling down"
                      sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=0
              echo "usage: $0 {up|down|set <val>|get|toggle}"
exit 0

Other applications

  • A C-program which cycles through colors, plus information about how to understand it, can be found at [1].
  • alienware-kbl a software to manage the light colors with a graphical interface, python or bash commands.