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I'm trying to change the brightness steps in XFCE from 10 to 20. I'd like the ability to gradually change the laptop's brightness by 5% instead of 10%. Is there a way to set this up with a config file for XFCE?

If that is not an option, I have thought of another way: I know that I can disable XFCE's power settings from handling brightness keys, but setting up a shortcut in keyboard preferences does not seem to be able to override this.

Is there another way I can remap what XF86MonBrightnessUp and XF86MonBrightnessDown do when pressed? Specifically, I'd like Up to use the command lumeus +5% and Down to use the command lumeus -5%.

Can either idea be done while using XFCE with its XFWM?

6 Answers 6

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No need to recompile the xfce4-power-manager

There really is no need to recompile xfce4-power-manager.

Firstly, install xbacklight

$ sudo apt install xbacklight

Secondly, check whether you have control over the backlight.

$ xbacklight -1
$ xbacklight +5

Should these commands result in a No outputs have backlight property error, then follow these remediating steps before proceeding.

Once xbacklight -1 and xbacklight +1 work from the command line, proceed with assigning these commands to respectively the XF86MonBrightnessDown and XF86MonBrightnessUp keys. This is done by hitting those keys when asked by the Settings → Keyboard → Application Shortcuts application.

Finally, reboot for these changes to take effect.

Keyboard settings

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3

Another year passes and another year of no progress on this issue despite easy solutions posted online (e.g., How to obtain more brightness levels using Fn+keys in Xfce?).

You need to recompile Xfce Power Manager with minor changes in the code.

  1. Download Power Manager from here: http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.12/src/xfce4-power-manager-1.4.3.tar.bz2

  2. Unpack it and cd into the folder.

  3. Open common/xfpm-brightness.c in a text editor:  (e.g., gvim common/xfpm-brightness.c).

  4. Change line 515:

    set_level = MAX (hw_level/1.5, brightness->priv->min_level);
    
  5. Change line 475:

    set_level = MIN (hw_level*2 + (hw_level==0), brightness->priv->max_level );
    
  6. Save and close.

  7. Type ./configure at the command prompt. You're kind of on your own here... there will be errors and you need to fix them. E.g., on Xubuntu 18.04 I needed to install several things:

    sudo apt-get install libdbus-glib-1-dev
    sudo apt-get install libxfce4ui-1-dev
    sudo apt-get install libnotify-dev
    sudo apt-get install libupower-glib-dev
    
  8. Once configure is complete, type make.

  9. Once make completes, type sudo make install.

  10. Logout and login. Voilà! You have smaller backlight increments.

1
  • Or in one go for Xubuntu LTS 18.04: sudo apt install libdbus-glib-1-dev libxfce4ui-1-dev libnotify-dev libupower-glib-dev intltool Oct 1, 2018 at 22:33
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Before downloading (step 1 above), check the version number:

xfce4-power-manager --version

Then download the correct version from here:

https://git.xfce.org/xfce/xfce4-power-manager

Last issue, I seem to run into a polkit error when running the custom xfce4 power manager (related to [this][1] but no fix).

[1]: Authentication needed to run xfpm-power-backlight-helper as super user https://forum.xfce.org/viewtopic.php?id=11190

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I'm on arch and recompiled xfce4 power manager as proposed. I also had the polkit problem after installing the compiled power manager. Here is how I solved it so that everything works with customizable brightness steps, the exponential option and the Fn key combination:

  1. git clone https://github.com/xfce-mirror/xfce4-power-manager
  2. cd xfce4-power-manager
  3. git checkout master; I'm on commit ID eee63912efb5b3d01000c63bd306b4a629ec6f7f which is basically some commits ahead of v1.6.1.
  4. wget https://bugzilla.xfce.org/attachment.cgi?id=7728 -O brightness.patch
  5. git apply brightness.patch
  6. ./autogen.sh
  7. make
  8. sudo make install
  9. reboot
  10. now authentication is asked when using Fn+Brightness control keys; that is because the path of xfpm-power-backlight-helper has changed
  11. sudo vim /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.xfce.power.policy
  12. change the XML node

<annotate key="org.freedesktop.policykit.exec.path">/usr/bin/xfpm-power-backlight-helper</annotate>

to

<annotate key="org.freedesktop.policykit.exec.path">/usr/local/sbin/xfpm-power-backlight-helper</annotate>

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ub_marco’s answer almost solves it for me.  After sudo make install finishes the installation, I need to edit the file org.xfce.power.policy through this command:

sudo vim /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.xfce.power.policy

and change the following lines in the file:

 <annotate key="org.freedesktop.policykit.exec.path">/usr/local/sbin/xfpm-power-backlight-helper</annotate>

 <annotate key="org.freedesktop.policykit.exec.path">/usr/local/sbin/xfce4-pm-helper</annotate>

so that they point to /usr/sbin rather than /usr/local/sbin.

Each time I recompile, I need to re-edit this file.  Some path must be wrong in the Makefile, but I can't track it down.

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Usually, if you install some other packages together, the brightness and sound keys should work without any configuration:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install xfce4-goodies xorg dbus-x11 x11-xserver-utils

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