AlienFX Software – Fails on Vista x64


An Alienware Desktop from May 2007 has been upgraded to run Vista x64. At this time I cannot find a working version of the AlienFx software to power the AlienFx Lighting Interface and the desktop is dark. Since the upgrade to Vista x64, the lighting has worked since the settings were saved inside the AlienFX interface, but after a memory upgrade to 8GB, the AlienFX lights are now dark. I need to have the system lighting working on this system. The system was purchased with a 4 year warranty and so is under warranty until May 2011.

While Alienware did not support Vista x64 at the time the system was purchased, they have supported 64-bit operating systems since shortly after the system was delivered.

Area-51 7500-R4 Desktop From May 2007

In May 2007, I purchased an Alienware Area-51 system. The details of the configuration are here. At that time Vista was a mature operating system and the 64bit version of Vista had been available for some time. However, Alienware did not support systems running Vista x64 software. The system was configured with 4GB of memory, however due to the details of the Vista OS and the Motherboard that Alienware chose for the system, only 2..7GB was available when running Vista x86 [32bit version]. I purchased and installed my own copy of Vista Ultimate x64 shortly after delivery. Here is the current system information. As you can see the system memory is now 8GB.

System Information

The AlienFX option on the system worked fine on Vista x86 and I set the theme to my liking. After I installed Vista x64 I attempted to install the AlienFx software and it would not function, as one might expect since it probably contains a USB driver. Later when Alienware started supporting x64 systems I attempted to upgrade the software and found an updated version, but it would install but not function. I have not been able to find a later  version on the Alienware site at this time.

AlienFX 1.0.5

I was able to find an AlienFX update some time ago on the site. These are the results when attempting to install it. This is the system information from the installer file. The update was supplied as a ZIP file with an embedded installer.

Installer Information

Firmware Upgrade

When the installer starts it upgrades the Firmware in the AlienFX device.

Firmware Update

This apparently proceeds without error.

Installer Completes without Error

The installer completes without error, telling me that it has supplied an x64 driver and that it was properly signed, since x64 systems require Signed Drivers.

Starting AlienFX Causes Exceptions

Starting the AlienFX software after the install causes an error which causes several failures.

Controller Exception
Error Enabling AlienFx
(dot)Net Exception

AlienFX Theme Editor Works

The AlienFX theme editor does work however.

AlienFx Editor Works
Editor About Box

Updates from Alienware / DELL Website

By going to the DELL portion of the site, I was able to search for AlienFX and found several files. The Command Center files all were apparently for Laptops. I did find a file that looks like it supports a Desktop. I had some difficulty downloading files using Firefox. Some files named .application would not run in the context of firefox. I was able to download them only if I used MS IE. But having done that I found a promising update.

AlienFX Software Update on DELL Site
AlienFX Update Details
Downloaded Update

When I launched the update in the x64 folder inside the extracted folder tree, this update would not run on my Alienware computer because my computer is not an official DELL computer. It was built by Alienware before they were bought by DELL.

Update will not run

So while this update might in fact support the AlienFX board I have on my computer, the software will not install because my motherboard has not been modified by DELL. It predates DELL.

Possible Solutions

I see three possible solutions to the problem:

  1. If in fact the above update will support my AlienFX hardware, then provide a version of it which does not do the DELL check.
  2. Obtain a working copy of AlienFX software from Alienware that supports my AlienFX device on x64 systems and does not have a DELL check. I can’t find such an update on the Alienware website by searching in the support area and knowledge base, but perhaps I missed it.
  3. Obtain an updated AlienFX board as is now shipped with the new systems, if it differs, and install the software shipped with the new systems that support that board. Again, assuming that we can get around the Official DELL check in the installer. This is assuming that (a) the board has changed (b) that the lights I have will work with the new board. I think it is likely that the lights have not changed.

If the board has not changed since my 2007 system, then clearly (1) or (2) are the right solutions.

If (3) is required, I am trained as a computer engineer and have the skills necessary to install an updated board in my computer.

I look forward to a solution for my problem from Alienware / DELL.


Darrell Duffy