Dell laptop fan control during & after Debian installation

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Dell laptop fan control during & after Debian installation

Postby Hralgmir » 2015-02-28 14:18

A new alternative Linux open source fan control daemon for Dell laptops.
It can be downloaded from my website:

Tested only on older 32 bit models - Dell C840 and Dell CPx H450GT but an option exists to compile 64 bit executables.
Tested with Debian i386, it should (probably) work with other Debian derived distros as well.
fanxdell offers various features which could be considered to be an improvement on the i8kutils Debian package, although as I wrote it I could be biased in this view.
The most interesting facility is it allows user defined fan control to be enabled during the installation process in a simple and effective manner. The BIOS fan control I have encountered tends to allow laptops to become quite hot before intervening, as this is presumably intended mainly as a fallback feature. Installing Debian can take a while so it seems preferable to protect the hardware with a suitable fan daemon.
It can auto detect whether 1 or 2 fans are present and has sensible preset values for the tested models, which can be simply modified via command line arguments if adjustment is needed. The infodell utility is included which gives useful information and shows whether fanxdell is running and what temperature settings it is currently using. It can be used as a permanent daemon starting at boot when Debian has been installed and the install_fanxdell interactive installer / uninstaller makes this very easy and fast, although this may not work in some distros, especially Red Hat based ones. The actual fanxdell and infodell applications are probably quite portable as they are designed to run in the minimal installation environment.
It should be compatible with any Dell laptop which can use i8kutils as it uses the same interface, but it's an independent user space daemon written in C and doesn't require the i8k kernel module. It carries out the same tests as i8kutils to ensure it's running on a suitable model so should operate safely even in the event of swapping the HDD to a different laptop after installation as a daemon.
Thankyou to all those who have contributed to the field of Dell laptop fan control and made this knowledge available online.

Full documentation is provided with the fanxdell download.
An example of setting up fanxdell to run in the installation process:
Wait until you have set the locale and keyboard, USA is the default. Press Alt + F2 or F3 to get an alternate terminal. The terminal on Alt + F4 should not be used as it is used by the installation process to display output. (Or there's a menu option to execute a shell, and with a US keyboard no setup
is required)
If fanxdell is on a USB in the top level directory:
Code: Select all
# mkdir /media/usb
# mount -t auto /dev/sdb1 /media/usb
# cp /media/usb/fanxdell /bin
# fanxdell -a
# umount /media/usb

Press Alt + F1 and return to the installation menu.

An example of setting up fanxdell to run as a daemon at boot after installation:
'cd' to the untarred fanxdell directory
Code: Select all
# ./install_fanxdell

Follow the onscreen instructions.

There is a good list of compatible models on the original i8k developers website:
Possibly, some models newer than those listed in the above link might support standard ACPI (thermald), and encounter problems with the old i8kutils BIOS interface, hence also fanxdell, eg: ... t/19579258
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