Getting a Wacom Bamboo Tablet to work in Ubuntu Gutsy

UPDATE 5/10/09 for Ubuntu Jaunty: Wacom tablets should work out of the box now, but I have not tested it myself yet. See

The Bamboo Wacom tablets are new, and the wacom driver in the Ubuntu repositories does not support it, so you’ll need to compile and install the newest drivers manually (or go get an older Wacom tablet).

  1. Go ahead and plug in your wacom bamboo tablet into the usb port.
  2. Download the latest sources for the Wacom drivers from the Linux Wacom project.
  3. Here is an adapted version of the instructions on the linuxwacom site. Run these commands (in the Terminal application) to unpack and compile the project: (change the version numbers to the version of linuxwacom you have)
    bunzip2 linuxwacom-0.7.9-4.tar.bz2
    tar xvf linuxwacom-0.7.9-4.tar
    cd linuxwacom-0.7.9-4
    ## see notes below, you'll probably have to install
    ## build-essential, xorg-dev, and other packages
    ## before continuing:
    ./configure --enable-wacom
    sudo make install

    When you run the ./configure command, if you get errors, you likely need to install some development tools and libraries (using the synaptic package manager or apt-get), including: build-essential, linux-headers-generic, and xorg-dev.

  4. Instead of src/2.6.19/wacom.ko, the wacom.ko will be under src/2.6.22/wacom.ko (depending on what kernel version you have – Ubuntu Gutsy is at 2.6.22 at the moment). Type “uname -r” to see your current kernel version.
  5. Type “locate wacom.ko” to find the correct place to copy your new wacom.ko driver file. The correct path is the one that matches your current kernel version. In my case it is: /lib/modules/2.6.22-14-generic/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/wacom.ko

    Note that is …kernel/drivers/input/tablet/ NOT …kernel/drivers/usb/input/ like in the instructions on the linuxwacom site.

    So I copied the wacom.ko driver there with this command (from inside the linuxwacom folder):

    sudo cp src/2.6.22/wacom.ko /lib/modules/2.6.22-14-generic/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/wacom.ko

  6. See the instructions on the linuxwacom site for more info. I ran the prebuilt install command but I don’t think that’s necessary. I ignored the stuff about /etc/udev/rules.d/10-wacom.rules. The filename in Ubuntu Gutsy is 50-xserver-xorg-input-wacom.rules, anyway.
  7. Now you have to configure the X wacom driver in your xorg.conf file. Backup your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file before making any edits. If you are unfamiliar with editing xorg.conf, you can use these commands:
    sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf-mybackup
    ##open file with gedit text editor:
    sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

    Inside the ServerLayout section of the xorg.conf file add these lines:

    InputDevice    "stylus"    "SendCoreEvents"
    InputDevice    "eraser"    "SendCoreEvents"
    InputDevice    "cursor"    "SendCoreEvents"
    InputDevice    "pad"

    And below your other input devices (like “Configured Mouse”) add these sections: (note I used /dev/input/wacom NOT /dev/input/event0 like in their instructions)

    Section "InputDevice"
      Driver        "wacom"
      Identifier    "stylus"
      Option        "Device"        "/dev/input/wacom"
      Option        "Type"          "stylus"
      Option        "USB"           "on"
    Section "InputDevice"
      Driver        "wacom"
      Identifier    "eraser"
      Option        "Device"        "/dev/input/wacom"
      Option        "Type"          "eraser"
      Option        "USB"           "on"
    Section "InputDevice"
      Driver        "wacom"
      Identifier    "cursor"
      Option        "Device"        "/dev/input/wacom"
      Option        "Type"          "cursor"
      Option        "USB"           "on"
    # This section is for Intuos3, Cintiq 21UX, Graphire4, or Bamboo
    Section "InputDevice"
      Driver        "wacom"
      Identifier    "pad"
      Option        "Device"        "/dev/input/wacom"
      Option        "Type"          "pad"
      Option        "USB"           "on"
  8. Now the kicker. Type these commands to unload and reload the wacom driver:
    sudo rmmod wacom
    sudo modprobe wacom
    #then run:
    grep -i wacom /var/log/messages | tail

    You should see messages like “registered new interface driver wacom” and “device … is bound to the wacom driver”

    You should be able to see the cursor move when you drag the pen on the tablet now. But you still won’t be able to use the stylus/eraser/cursor as an input device in Inkscape or Gimp or Krita. You’ll have to reboot first, or at least restart X (control-alt-backspace).

    To enable the tablet as an input device in Inkscape, go to File->Input Devices and set the stylus/cursor/eraser to Screen. In Gimp you go to File->Preferences->Input Devices->Configure Input Devices and do the same.

  9. Whenever your system updates to a new kernel, you’ll want to run the ./configure and make and install commands again (copy over the newly compiled wacom.ko file to the correct location). Once Ubuntu is updated to the 2.6.23 kernel AND has a wacom driver that is newer than 0.7.8, none of this should be necessary anymore.
Posted in opensource, technology
11 comments on “Getting a Wacom Bamboo Tablet to work in Ubuntu Gutsy
  1. imadoofus123 says:

    thank you! I just got my shiny new tablet working. at first I couldn’t get it to compile but then I figured out that I had corrupted my driver by unpacking it unproperly. also there’s a nice program I found to configure pressure sensitivity at

  2. Cerebrate says:

    Your tutorial is slightly confusing, but I did get it to work. One of the packages you need is xorg-dev, so just apt-install that.And the second thing is, that after compiling, I still didn’t have a 2.6.22 driver, so I just copied the 2.6.19 driver instead. It works fine.

  3. Johnathan says:

    This is a great tutorial, and once I located the src files had no problem getting things up and running.That being said, the Linux Wacom Project no longer has your particular version listed, and with other versions I was getting constant make errors, not configure errors. I remedied this by copying the link for one of the downloads from their site into a new window, and changed the filename to yours. Poof! Same drivers, clean make & install.Anyone know how to adjust the movement sensitivity?

  4. Johnathan says:

    I also found that when you add <>InputDevice “pad”<>, you need to include <>“SendCoreEvents”<> as well, like the other lines. Without it, the Bamboo doesn’t function right.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks man! Great help.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello, thanks very much, just installed my new Wacom Bamboo under Gutsy, works nicely, any tools to configure its buttons and scrolling pad?

  8. Anonymous says:

    could someone make script to this ? 🙂

  9. zdenek says:

    thanks its working

  10. irisdelight says:

    Thamk you, you are my saviour!:-D
    I was getting nuts trying to make my bamboo one usable.

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