GNU/Linux application to control backlights

View the Project on GitHub haikarainen/light


Copyright (C) 2012 - 2018, Fredrik Haikarainen This is free software, see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE


Light is a program to control backlight controllers under GNU/Linux, it is the successor of lightscript, which was a bash script with the same purpose, and tries to maintain the same functionality.



Arch Linux

If you run Arch Linux, there exists 2 packages;

I recommend you go with light-git as you might miss important features and bugfixes if you do not.


We recommended downloading a versioned tarball from the relases page on GitHub. Download and untar the archive:

tar xf light-x.yy.tar.gz
cd light-x.yy/
./configure && make
sudo make install

However, should you want to try the latest GitHub source you first need to clone the repository and run the script. This requires automake and autoconf to be installed on your system.

./configure && make
sudo make install

The configure script and files are not part of GIT because they are generated at release time with make release.

Optional: If you want to use udev rules instead of suid to manage sysfs permissions, you may skip the make install step and instead add something like the following to /etc/udev/rules.d/90-backlight.rules after copying your binaries:

ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="backlight", RUN+="/bin/chgrp video /sys/class/backlight/%k/brightness"
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="backlight", RUN+="/bin/chmod g+w /sys/class/backlight/%k/brightness"


This application usually has 4 different criteria on flags to use, which are operation modes, value mode, target and controller mode. Flags from these different modes can never be used in conjunction, but all of them do not always have to be specified (although it is recommended to do so for verbosity).

Note: This application will only print errors if you are using it incorrectly. If something goes wrong, and you can't figure out why, try setting the verbosity flag with -v:

Operation modes

The operation modes describe what you want to do.

When used by themselves operate on the brightness of a controller that is selected automatically. S, A and U needs another argument -- except for the main 4 criteria -- which is the value to set/add/subtract. This can be specified either in percent or in raw values, but remember to specify the value mode (read below) if you want to write raw values.

Value modes

The value mode specify in what unit you want to read or write values in. The default one (if not specified) is in percent, the other one is raw mode and should always be used when you need very precise values (or only have a controller with a very small amount of brightness levels).

Remember, this is the unit that will be used when you set, get, add or subtract brightness values.


As you can not only handle the brightness of controllers, you may also specify a target to read/write from/to:

The minimum brightness is a feature implemented as some controllers make the screen go pitch black at 0%, if you have a controller like that, it is recommended to set this value (in either percent or in raw mode). These values will be saved in raw mode though, so if you specify it in percent it might not be too accurate depending on your controller.

Controller modes

Finally, you can either use the built-in controller selection to get the controller with the maximum precision, or you can specify one manually with the -s flag. The -a flag will force automatic mode and is default. Use -L to get a list of controllers to use with the -s flag (to specify which controller to use).


Get the current brightness in percent

light -G

Increase brightness by 5 percent

light -A 5

Set the minimum cap to 2 in raw value on the acpi_video0 controller:

light -Scrs "acpi_video0" 2