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How to install Wacom Bamboo Pen graphics tablet in Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04

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I recently purchased the promising graphics tablet Bamboo Pen (CTL-460) distributed by Wacom for about 50 Euros. I wanted to use it together with my laptop, building a portable drawing system, very convenient if you travel with your children. We usually take the laptop with us, since we transfer our pictures from the camera to the computer and cloud disk.

My laptop is currently running Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS, code name Lucid Lynx. I unpacked the Bamboo Pen tablet, plugged it into one USB port in the laptop and noticed it does not work out of the box.

No problem, just read through these easy-to-follow instructions and you will enjoy your tablet in about 10-15 minutes.

You will need a kernel module newer than the one that comes with Lucid by default. Don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward. First, install some compiling tools and header files. Therefore you will need to open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type this (or select this text, copy it via CTRL-C and paste it in the terminal with CTRL-SHIFT-V) as a single line:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libx11-dev libxi-dev x11proto-input-dev xserver-xorg-dev tk8.4-dev tcl8.4-dev libncurses5-dev

You will be asked your root password. The system will ask for permission to download the files (about 14 MB) and install the packages. Respond “y” and the system will setup the files required.

Next, you  will need to download the latest linuxwacom driver (0.8.8-8 at the moment of writing). Staying on the same directory in your terminal, use wget to fetch the file from the Linux Wacom site on SourceForge.net. Just type the following line (you can also select this text, copy it via CTRL-C and paste it in the terminal with CTRL-SHIFT-V) and hit enter:

wget http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/linuxwacom/linuxwacom-0.8.8-8.tar.bz2

The load balancer in SourceForge.net will look for the nearest mirror to download the file. It’s about 1 MB in size. Now you will need to unpack, configure, compile and install the driver. Copy and paste each line below using the same procedure as for the wget command. Hit ENTER after each line (the 2.6.30 version is probably older than your current kernel version, but it’s the newest available for the driver and it works):

tar -xf linuxwacom-0.8.8-8.tar.bz2
cd linuxwacom-0.8.8-8
./configure --enable-wacom
cd src/2.6.30/
make
sudo cp wacom.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/
sudo rmmod wacom
sudo modprobe wacom

The tablet should work now. You can ignore the warning below.

NOTE: this package only supports Xorg server older than 1.7.
You are running a newer version.
Please build the X driver from xf86-input-wacom.

You should now add the module name to /etc/modules to automatically load it on boot. Enter this line in the terminal to open the file and edit in gedit:

gksudo gedit /etc/modules

Now add the following text at the end of the file:

wacom

Now save the file. After rebooting, the module should be loaded automatically.

IMPORTANT:

Whenever there is a kernel update from Ubuntu, the source may no longer work for the new kernel. There is no need to boot into an older kernel and recompile. Follow these additional steps to update the driver:

Open a terminal window. Look for the linuxwacom directory. If you followed these directions you should only edit “your-username” below before copying and pasting:

cd /home/your-username/linuxwacom-0.8.8-8
make clean
./configure --enable-wacom

Now you have to run make in src/2.6.30 and you should have no problems at all.

cd src/2.6.30/
make
sudo cp wacom.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/
sudo rmmod wacom
sudo modprobe wacom

If the kernel version changes, most of the time you will need to run make clean otherwise it will still build the driver for the older kernel version.

We suggest that you register your tablet at the Wacom website, and specify Linux as your operating system. Doing so, the number of registered Linux users grows and Wacom receives real information about them; hopefully the number turns high enough to get more attention from Wacom and they decide to provide more compatible hardware and software.

In order to fully profit from all 6 dimensions this tablet offers, you should now configure the “Extended Input Devices” in your favorite graphics program. Among others we recommend The GIMP, Inkscape and MyPaint, all of them are free and installable from the Ubuntu Software Center.

The GIMP:

  • Start The GIMP
  • Go to Files > Preferences.
  • Select the tab Input devices, then click on Configure Extended Input Devices
  • Choose Device: Stylus then Mode: Screen. You could also select Window, but the behavior is somehow weird…
  • Do the same for the Eraser and the Cursor.

Now you’re ready to draw in The GIMP, for example with the Paintbrush tool. For example, you can change the Pressure Sensitivity effect from Opacity to Size.

Inkscape

Inkscape is very good for ink-style drawings, because it’s vector drawing program, unlike The GIMP, which is a raster graphics application. An advantage of vector drawings (apart from the low resource requirements) is that your strokes will remain sharp at whatever magnification, resolution or thinness. To configure it:

  • Start Inkscape
  • Go to Files > Input devices
  • Choose Device: Stylus then Mode: Screen
  • Do the same for the Eraser and the Cursor.

Now you’re ready to draw. A very interesting tool while working with a tablet is the Calligraphy tool (Ctrl+F6). Click on the icon to use the pressure, and adjust the settings on the bar just above the horizontal ruler.

MyPaint

MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters. It lets you focus on the art instead of the program. You work on your canvas with minimum distractions, bringing up the interface only when you need it. MyPaint comes with a large brush collection including charcoal and ink to emulate real media, but the highly configurable brush engine allows you to experiment with your own brushes and with not-quite-natural painting. Just configure the input device analogously.

Tips for Modifying the Stroke Pressure

If you find that with the defaults setting it’s hard to draw thin strokes, you can follow these steps.

Instead of editing xorg.conf, in Ubuntu 10.04 you edit:

/usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-wacom.conf

So you would need to add one line to the conf file. You can enter this commandd to edit it:

gksudo gedit /usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-wacom.conf

After you enter your password, the gedit window opens and you can edit your options adding this line to the section “InputDevice” relative to the style:

Option        “PressCurve”    “50,0,100,50”         # Custom preference

It will then look like this :

Section “InputDevice”
Driver        “wacom”
Identifier    “stylus”
Option        “Device”        “/dev/input/wacom”
Option        “Type”          “stylus”
Option        “PressCurve”    “50,0,100,50”         # Custom preference
Option        “Threshold”     “60”                  # sensitivity to do a “click”
EndSection

The parameter “50,0, 100,50” determine the slope of two tangents of the pressure curve (“deltaX_1,deltaY_1 ,100-deltaX_2,100-deltaY_2”;  1 = no pressure, 2 = full pressure).

This is my /usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-wacom.conf file:

Section “InputClass”
Identifier “Wacom class”
MatchProduct “Wacom|WACOM”
MatchDevicePath “/dev/input/event*”
Driver “wacom”
#Option “Button2” “2”
#Option “Button3” “3”
Option “KeepShape” “on”
EndSection

Section “InputClass”
Identifier “Wacom serial class”
MatchProduct “Serial Wacom Tablet”
Driver “wacom”
Option “ForceDevice” “ISDV4”
EndSection

# N-Trig Duosense Electromagnetic Digitizer
Section “InputClass”
Identifier “Wacom N-Trig class”
MatchProduct “HID 1b96:0001”
MatchDevicePath “/dev/input/event*”
Driver “wacom”
EndSection

These are the only options i have added to default Ubuntu file:

Option “KeepShape” “on”

The first two options can be used to remap buttons (# sign means that the option is disabled until # is removed), and third option is used like “Force proportions” option in Microsoft Windows operating system. Essentially it corrects difference between your monitor aspect ratio and aspect ratio of your tablet.

#Option “Button2” “2”
#Option “Button3” “3”

Hope you enjoy your graphics tablet!

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  1. catlamps
    October 30, 2010 at 16:15

    I like the article. The additional information on an updated kernel is a good addition.

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