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ITE 8291 (rev 0.03) userspace driver

Project description

What is it?

ite8291r3-ctl is a userspace driver for the ITE 8291 (rev 0.03) RGB keyboard backlight controller.


This software is in early stages of developement. Futhermore, to quote GPL: Everything is provided as is. There is no warranty for the program, to the extent permitted by applicable law.

This software is licensed under the GNU General Public License v2.0


The following devices have been reported to work:

idVendor idProduct bcdDevice manufacturer product
048d 6004 0.03 Integrated Technology Express, Inc. ITE Device(8291)
048d ce00 0.03 Integrated Technology Express, Inc. ITE Device(8291)

If you believen your device should be supported, but it is not, please open an issue. You can run ite8291r3-ctl query --devices to see the supported devices found in the system. Alternatively, you can use lsusb -d 048d:.




for the screen mode



  • Support for built-in effects
  • Monocolor mode
  • Color palette management
  • Per-key RGB colors
  • Animations
  • Coloring the keyboard according to what is on screen [exprimental, Linux+Xorg only]
  • Querying parts of the controller state


  • User interface for instructing the controller to save changes
  • Modify timeout
  • A more sane way of assigning colors to specific keys
  • Possibly a GUI
  • Coloring the keyboard based on audio

How to install

Using PIP

The simplest way to install is to use pip:

pip install ite8291r3-ctl

Note: This will not download anything from the assets directory, it only installs the program. You will have to download them manually if you want to try them out.

Note: If you want to install for all users, run pip as root.



If you have git installed:

git clone

If you don't, then you can download it here.


After downloading the files, open the directory in a terminal, and run pip install . (or pip install .[mode-screen] if you want the optional dependencies for the screen mode). If you have multiple Python versions installed, specify one that satisfies the requirements.

How to use

Running it without installation

It is possible to run the utility without installation. Open the directory in a terminal, then run python -m ite8291r3_ctl. In this case you need to install the dependencies manually. pip install -r requirements.txt to install the required pyusb package. If you want to try the screen mode, you need to install the optional dependencies as well.

Accessing the USB device

By default you need root privileges if you want to use this utility. As noted here and here, you can create a udev rule to allow everyone on your system to access this particular USB device, and thus you won't need to run the program as root.

If you want to do that, create a file /etc/udev/rules.d/99-ite8291.rules:

SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="048d", ATTRS{idProduct}=="ce00", MODE:="0666"

or you can make it accessible only for a given group if you don't want anyone to have access to it:

SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="048d", ATTRS{idProduct}=="ce00", GROUP="name_of_the_group", MODE:="0660"

after creating the file, run sudo udevadm control --reload, then sudo udevadm trigger. Or reboot.


Use ite8291r3-ctl -h to get a list of subcommands. Use ite8291r3 <subcommand> -h to get the help for a given subcommand. Use ite8291r3-ctl --device <bus>/<addr> to select a device to control, if the device is not specified, the first available will be used.


Turns off the keyboard backlight.


ite8291r3-ctl off


Changes the keyboard backlight brightness. The argument must be an integer between 0 and 50 (inclusive). Zero is no backlight, 50 is the brightest.


ite8291r3-ctl brightness 33


ite8291r3-ctl test-pattern

[for testing] Shows a test pattern. It takes 10 seconds to run. It will turn off all key backlighting once it is finished.


[for testing, potentially unsafe] Changes the speed of the current effect to 11 (one above the maximum). This appears to stop the effect (which are animated).


ite8291r3-ctl freeze


Changes the current effect. You can specify the following properties for effects:

property possible values note default
speed integer from 0 to 10 0 is fastest, 10 is slowest 5
brightness integer from 0 to 50 0 is no backlight, 50 is brightest 25
color see help - random
direction left, right, up, down - left
reactive - - no


ite8291r3-ctl effect wave -s 0 -d up
// enable 'wave' effect with speed 0 (fastest) and bottom-up direction

ite8291r3-ctl effect rainbow -b 50
// enable rainbow effect with brightness 50 (max)

ite8291r3-ctl effect aurora -s 2 -c red -r
// enable reactive 'aurora' effect with speed 2 and color red


positional arguments:

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -s, --speed SPEED
                        Speed of the effect.
  -b, --brightness BRIGHTNESS
                        Brightness of the effect.
  -c, --color {none,red,orange,yellow,green,blue,teal,purple,random}
                        Color of the effect.
  -d, --direction {none,right,left,up,down}
                        Direction of the effect.
  -r, --reactive        Specify if you want the effect to be reactive.

Note: If you specify random for color value, then all colors in the palette will be used in some fashion (depending on the effect).

Note: Do not use none for direction or color, because nothing will show up.

Note: Not all effects support all properties. You will get an error message if you try to use an unsupported property. See the Effect property support matrix section for more info.

Note: The color names might be misleading. red actually refers to the first color in the palette, orange to the second, and so on. If you modify the palette, and then set the color for an effect, you might not get what you expect.

Note: Enabling an effect will change the brightness. If not specified, the default value (25) will be applied.


Changes the color of the keyboard to a single color which may be specified as an RGB code or a predefined name. For the list of color names see ite8291r3-ctl monocolor -h.


ite8291r3-ctl monocolor -b 5 --name white
// set the backlight color to white and the brightness to 5 (very low)

ite8291r3-ctl monocolor --rgb 255,45,23
// change the backlight to color (255, 45, 23)

Note: If you don't specify the brightness, it will not be changed. Note: No whitespaces are allowed in the RGB color code. --rgb 255, 45, 23 is invalid and will be rejected.


Manages the color palette on the device.


ite8291r3-ctl palette --restore
// restores the palette to the default values

ite8291r3-ctl palette --set-color 3 255,13,14
// sets the 3rd color of the palette to (255, 13, 14)

ite8291r3-ctl palette --random
// sets all color to something randomly generated

Note: The index specified for --set-color must lie between 1 and 7 (inclusive).


[experimental] Enables one of the interactive modes. There is only a single mode available at the moment: screen, and it only works on Linux, with Xorg. You also need to install python-xlib and Pillow Python pacakges. You can install them by installing the utility with pip install ite8291r3_ctl[mode-screen].

The screen mode takes a screenshot every 0.2 seconds of your screen, downsizes it to 16x6, and lights up the backlight LEDs according to the colors on the picture. This video is perfect for trying it out. The colors are not cleared after exiting, so I guess this is also a way to set the desired colors if you don't want to spend time with the more robust way described in the following section.


ite8291r3-ctl mode --screen
// take screenshots of the whole screen and color according to that

ite8291r3-ctl mode --screen 1000,1000,200,300
// take screenshots of the rectangle whose top left corner is at (1000, 1000) and has a width of 200 and height of 300

Note: You can exit by pressing Ctrl+C (or seding SIGINT to the process).

Demo (video by VJ Loops):

screen mode demo


Plays an animation from a file. The name might be a bit misleading, because this is actually the facility of the program that allows you to set the color values on a per key basis. Read the README file in assets/animatins to see how animations may be made. It is a bit cumbersome, I am aware, however, a better way has yet to be found. The animation may be read from the standard input, so you can programatically generate it.


ite8291r3-ctl anim --file test_anim_file --loop 3
// read animation from 'anin_test_file' and loop it three times

ite8291r3-ctl anim --loop
// read animation from the standard input and loop it indefinitely

Note: If looping is required, then the whole file must be read into memory.


Queries the controller.


ite8291r3-ctl query --fw-version
// prints the controller firmware version as X.Y.Z.W

ite8291r3-ctl query --brightness
// prints the current brightness

ite8291r3-ctl query --state
// prints the current state of the keyboard backlight: "on" or "off"

ite8291r3-ctl query --devices
// prints the list of supported devices found in the system

Note: This information may be useful if you want to use it in a script.

Effect property support matrix

This matrix shows which effects support which properties.

effect speed color direction reactivity
breathing yes yes - -
wave yes - yes -
random yes yes - yes
rainbow - - - -
ripple yes yes - yes
marquee yes - - -
raindrop yes yes - -
aurora yes yes - yes
fireworks yes yes - yes

Note: brightness may be specified for all currently supported effects.


All contribution is welcome. If you find a bug, typo, or have a feature request, do not hestitate to report it on the Issues page (but please do a search first, maybe someone has already reported it). If you have an addition to the software and you want it to be inclueded, open a pull request.


aucc, ite-backlight, and Project Starbeat have been incredily useful in gaining insight into how this controller works, without them, this program would not have been created.

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