Getting the CM Storm Devastator keyboard back-lighting working in Linux.

Edit:  Thanks to everyone that has been leaving comments at the end of the post, you guys rock. Also, I added at the end of the post how to get the back-lights to turn on while booting, thanks to Mik for posting it in the comments.

The CM Storm  Devastator (Price and details here [Click Here] ) is a very cheap keyboard and mouse gaming bundle ranging at $30 which includes back-lighting and other features that make it comparable to more pricey alternatives, but there is one problem, under Linux there are no drivers provided by Cooler Master or support built in the Linux kernel for the key back-light to work out of  the box (The mouse back-light works properly, the problem is with the keyboard).

In this tutorial, we are going to get the keyboard back-light working under Linux and we are also going to make them switch on when we login (Something that you can’t do under Windows).

Warning: Even if this tutorial was made under Linux Mint (Cinnamon), the core ideas are the same, you just need to apply it to your distribution of choice and it should work perfectly.

Edit 2: Thank you all for the lovely feedback that you all have left in the comments, this post has been the post that I have been getting the most feedback about.

Making the back-lights turn on/off with the keyboard

While doing some research, I found, digging through forums that there are two different commands to get the keyboard back-lights to be able to switch on or off.

In order for the back-lights to turn on the command that you need to use is:

$ xset led 3

In order for the  back-lights to turn off the command that you need to use is:

$ xset -led 3

Now that we know this, we can even test this in the terminal if we want to, but it is supposed to work. Now, we need to make it so we can turn it on and off by only using the keyboard, which can be achieved by binding these commands to the keys. In order to do this, you need to open an app in your distribution called “Keyboard shortcuts” or “keybindings” or “keyboard” (For me, under Linux Mint Debian Edition it was under Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts, but for something like Ubuntu it might be different, if a lot of people are struggling applying this tutorial under Ubuntu or other distributions, I might make an updated version including those distributions).


When we have the application open, we want to click on “Add custom shortcut”, give a name to the shortcut (in my case i named it “Keyboard LED On”), and in the command field we want to add that command that will turn the back-lights on, which is “xset led 3”.


When we are done, we want to click the “Add” button and it will add the key-binding to the list, now we need to bind the physical key to it. Click the rectangle below where it says “Keyboard bindings” and when the text in it changes and shifts to the left, press the key in your keyboard labeled as “SCR LK”.


Now here is where we encounter a small problem, there is no way for us to be able to toggle between on and off using this type of key bindings, because the system thinks that each binding is supposed to perform only one action, in our case, the one that we did before will only turn on the keyboard when pressing the “SCR LK” key. In order to solve this problem, what I decided to do was to bite the bullet and bind the “xset -led 3” command to the “Pause” key which is next to the “SCR LK” key.

Now, as before, we are going to click the “Add custom shortcut” button and give it a name, in my case I named it “Keyboard LED Off” and in the command field you need to add the command “xset -led 3” and then click “Add”.


Now, as we did before, we need to bind the key to the command itself, in my case I decided to use the “Pause” key.


Now we are done, your keyboard back-lighting should be working. The good thing about this is that if we want to, we can change the key binding to any other that we would like to and not be forced to use the “SCR LK” or “Pause” keys, for instance you could make it use “INS” or any other key that we would like, as long as it does not conflict with any other system function.

Turning on the back-lighting at Login

Something cool that we can also is to make the keyboard back-lights to turn on automatically when we log into our session. To do this, we need to open an application called “Startup Applications”, which allow us to configure the applications that start automatically when we log into our session, but we can also set commands to be executed when we log in as well.

When you have the application open, click “Add”, this will bring up a small window. In the name field, you can name it whatever you want to, in my case I didn’t give a name to it at all. In the commands field you need to type the command that turns the keyboard back-light on which is “xset led 3”. You can give a comment to it if you want, which is just a description of what it will do and then click “Save”. Now we are done and the Devastator should turn on by default when we log in!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to check out my other Linux related posts. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section or contact me directly, my contact information is in the “Contact tab”.

Turning the Back-Lights on while booting up (Ubuntu only)

Thanks to Mik in the comments for posting this in the comments, I have seen that some people wanted to know how to do this, and I was researching how to do it, but gladly Mik posted it first saving me some research time.

Edit the following file with nano or any other text editor :



sudo gedit /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-unity-greeter.conf

add the line:

greeter-setup-script= xset led 3

And it should work properly. Again, thanks to Mik for posting it in the comments, make sure to say thank you to him too.

Note: This post was posted on my old website on June 20, 2014. Surprisingly enough, this was one of the posts that had the most hits and the most comments. I would suggest you go to the original post and check out the comments for more information. Some people in it wrote scripts to be able to manage keyboard lighting better. To view the original post, click this link.

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