Alienware M11x

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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.


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 package (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.



# 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
# modprobe vgaswitcheroo
# mount -t debugfs none /sys/kernel/debug
$ cd /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo
$ cat switch
  1: :Pwr:0000:01:00.0

To switch to discrete card:

# echo "DDIS" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

To switch to onboard card:

# echo "DIGD" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

To power-down the card not in use:

# echo "OFF" > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

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).

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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.