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179 Stars 39 Forks GNU General Public License v3.0 71 Commits 17 Opened issues


Control the SteelSeries keyboard of your MSI gaming notebook with Linux

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The MSI Keyboard Light Manager (MSIKLM) is an easy-to-use tool that allows to configure the SteelSeries keyboards of MSI gaming notebooks with Linux / Unix in almost the same way as the SteelSeries Engine can do using Windows.

Installation & Requirements

Manual Installation

I tried to keep the external dependencies to a minimum level, however there are some unavoidable ones. These are:

  • GCC - the C compiler
  • make - the main build tool of the Linux world
  • LIBUSB - MSIKLM needs to communicate with the keyboard, for this LIBUSB is required

Besides there are no others, no Qt, no Java, not even a C++ compiler is required. To install the program on any Debian-based Linux distribution (for instance any ubuntu-based one), there is an installation script '' which can be run by opening the respective folder in a terminal and typing


or if there are any problems you can try


as well which most certainly will work on most Debian-based distributions. This script will do the following steps, if you do not want to use the installation script for some reason, you can use the manual commands instead:

  • installation of the dependencies

    sudo apt install -y gcc make libhidapi-dev
  • compiling of MSIKLM

  • clean up

    make clean
  • copy the built program to '/usr/local/bin/msiklm' and set its permissions

    sudo mv -fv msiklm /usr/local/bin/msiklm
    sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/msiklm
  • test the connection

    sudo msiklm test

Whenever MSIKLM is used, it should always be run as root because otherwise, the communication with the keyboard is not possible, hence always use the sudo prefix (only 'msiklm help' will work as non-root).

Distribution Package

Currently, there are also the following packages available to install MSIKLM:

  • Arch Linux via the AUR repository :

  • FreeBSD via the FreeBSD package repository :

    pkg install msiklm


MSIKLM is a pure command line application, however its keyboard illumination control functionality is encapsulated such that it could easily be integrated into a graphical user interface. However, I neither wrote one for it nor I plan to do so. It is quite easy to use, and here is how to use it. It always has to be called with at least one argument, i.e. running it without one will result in an error. Here is an overview over the valid commands:

|command | valid arguments | example | |--------------------------------------------------------------|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|--------------------------------------| |sudo msiklm <color> | either a predefined color or arbitrary RGB values ([R;G;B] or hex code), cf. explanation below | sudo msiklm green | |sudo msiklm <color1>[,<color2>,<color3>,<color4>,...] | same as single color (important: no space between the colors!), cf. explanation below | sudo msiklm green,blue,red | |sudo msiklm <mode> | normal, gaming, breathe, demo, wave | sudo msiklm wave | |sudo msiklm <color> <brightness> | color as above, brightness can be off, low, medium, high, rgb | sudo msiklm green high | |sudo msiklm <color> <mode> | same as above | sudo msiklm green,blue,red wave | |sudo msiklm <color> <brightness> <mode> | same as above | sudo msiklm green,blue,red high wave |

The predefined supported colors are: none, off (equivalent to none), red, orange, yellow, green, sky, blue, purple and white. The color configuration can also be performed in an more advanced way: At most seven zones are supported (as long as supported by your device) and the respective colors have to be supplied in the following order: left, middle, right, logo, frontleft, frontright and mouse. If there is only one supplied color, it is reused for the first three zones, the remaining ones stay unchanged (i.e. green as single argument is equivalent to green,green,green). The colors have to be separated with no spaces between the colors, simply add a comma for a new zone. The last four colors are fully optional, i.e. they are set if and only if they are supplied. Consequently, if you want to change the last color (mouse), you have to specify a color for all zones. Instead of a predefined color, each color can alternatively be set in full RGB notation; the color values have to be either enclosed by brackets and separated by semicolons, e.g. 'green' is equivalent to using [0;255;0], or hex code notation can be used (0x000000 to 0xFFFFFF) where the respective values have to be selected accordingly. It is possible to mix these explicit color definitions with predefined ones, e.g. you can select a custom color for the left zone and use predefined for the others by supplying [R;G;B],green,blue. Please note that it might be necessary to put quotation marks around explicit color definitions, otherwise the argument might not be properly processed by the shell.

Further, the brightness argument can only be set to low, medium and high if no custom rgb-color is given, while not supplying it is equivalent to supply 'rgb'. The reason for this is two-fold: First, it makes little to no sense to explicitly define the color and to give a brightness as well, second the brightness can be used to switch to a different way of communicating with the keyboard. Besides technical details (see function set_color() in msiklm.c for further details if you are interested in them), it improves the compatibility with different devices, however the brightness has to be explicitly given. For example 'sudo msiklm green' will set the color green using its rgb-values (i.e. red=0, green=255, blue=0 or 0x00FF00 in hex code notation) while 'sudo msiklm green high' does basically the same but using a different way which might be supported by keyboards that do not support full rgb-color selection. As I do not have a bunch of different notebook available to test them, I cannot say which command will work at which keyboard.

Additionally, there are three extra commands that might be useful if something does not work:

msiklm help         -> shows the program's help
sudo msiklm test    -> tests if a compatible keyboard is found
sudo msiklm list    -> lists all found hid devices, this might be helpful if your keyboard is not detected by MSIKLM


An important additional feature is the optional autostart functionality since the keyboard will reset itself to its default color configuration whenever you reboot it or resume from standby. Hence, it is really useful to automatically reconfigure the keyboard to your configuration of choice. To do this, there is an extra script called '' that can do this for you. This script registers MSIKLM to the udev service (more precisely it registers the keyboard to the udev service which calls MSIKLM as soon as the keyboard is detected) by creating a rule file:


To create this file including your MSIKLM arguments of choice, run:


Try if everything works by first rebooting your system and then try a standby and wakeup. If everything works, we are done here. If not, please report an issue. :-)

Finally, the autostart can be disabled by running

./ --disable

which will disable the autostart by removing the rule file.


MSIKLM also comes with an uninstallation script which will remove the program file /usr/local/bin/msiklm as well as running ./autostart --disable, i.e. it disables the autostart. If you want to use it, simply run:


Developer Information

The source code is split into three files: - Main application (

) that converts the input - Small library that contains the main features (
). This provides a simple C API and hence allows an easy integration into different programs like maybe a small graphical user interface.

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