Old & Weird Laptops Risk Seeing Broken Backlight Controls With Linux 6.1

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 27 October 2022 at 09:00 AM EDT. 17 Comments
HARDWARE --
As a warning and call for testing, old and "weird" laptops may broken backlight controls when moving to the Linux 6.1 kernel currently under development. Thus if invested in using an old laptop with a modern kernel version, it may be useful trying out a Linux 6.1 release candidate to help spot any regressions early.

Red Hat's Hans de Goede has issued a notice that the new kernel may break backlight controls on "old/weird" laptops. This is coming due to Linux 6.1 having landed the big overhaul to Linux's display brightness/backlight interface. This is a big improvement for Linux backlight handling especially for newer hardware, but for older and quirky devices it may cause some initial fallout -- and thus the warning with early call for testing.

Laptops that are either "pretty old" and/or "weird" in that they did not ship with Windows as the default OS, have been flashed with Coreboot or other firmware modifications, or other changes putting the hardware into a more unique position.


Older laptops risk regressing on Linux 6.1 if there aren't motivated users willing to help in timely testing out the new kernel for working display backlight control functionality.


While it's most ideal trying out a Linux 6.1 release candidate to look for any signs of trouble, Hans de Goede published a blog post that does outline some steps Linux laptop users can take on existing kernels to see if your laptop(s) are potentially affected.

If your laptop is potentially affected, Hans is collecting /sys/class/backlight, dmesg, dmidecode, and acpidump logs from the hardware to help in addressing the backlight control changes. See Hans' blog for more details on this backlight control change with Linux 6.1 and the risk it poses for older laptops.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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