Wacom Tablet in Ubuntu

For most graphic designers a tablet is a must. One of the best tablet makers out there is Wacom. Due to the myth about Linux not having drivers support for everyday necessities, designers have steered clear of Linux. However, Wacom now supports the open source movement.

The process is not that difficult but you will have to use the command line and edit files. First download the official, latest, stable version of the driver. Extract.

cd linuxwacom
sudo ./configure
make
sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.bak
sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

The last two lines helped open up the xorg file. Edit the xorg file so it looks somewhat like this.

Section “InputDevice”
Driver “wacom”
Identifier “stylus”
Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0″ #SERIAL ONLY

Option “Device” “/dev/input/wacom” #USB ONLY
Option “Type” “stylus”
Option “USB” “on” #USB ONLY

Option “ForceDevice” “ISDV4″ #Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection

Section “InputDevice”
Driver “wacom”
Identifier “eraser”

Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0″ #SERIAL ONLY
Option “Device” “/dev/input/wacom” #USB ONLY
Option “Type” “eraser”

Option “USB” “on” #USB ONLY
Option “ForceDevice” “ISDV4″ #Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection

Section “InputDevice”

Driver “wacom”
Identifier “cursor”
Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0″ #SERIAL ONLY
Option “Device” “/dev/input/wacom” #USB ONLY

Option “Type” “cursor”
Option “Mode” “relative”
Option “USB” “on” #USB ONLY

Option “ForceDevice” “ISDV4″ #Tablet PC ONLY
EndSection

If you have a Intuos3 or Cintiq 21UX add this.

Section “InputDevice”
Driver “wacom”
Identifier “pad”
Option “Device” “/dev/ttyS0″ #SERIAL ONLY

Option “Device” “/dev/input/wacom” #USB ONLY
Option “Type” “pad”
Option “USB” “on” #USB ONLY

EndSection

Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier “Default Layout”
Screen “Default Screen”
InputDevice “Generic Keyboard”
InputDevice “Configured Mouse”
InputDevice “stylus” “SendCoreEvents”
InputDevice “eraser” “SendCoreEvents”
InputDevice “cursor” “SendCoreEvents” #For non-LCD tablets only
InputDevice “pad” #For Intuos3/Cintiq 21UX/Graphire4 tablets. It should NOT send core event
EndSection

For pressure sensitivity add this line to the Stylus section.

Option “PressCurve” “50,0,100,50″

Now to use your tablet in Gimp you have change some things around in gimp.

File-> Preferences-> Input Devices-> “Configure Extended Input Devices”.
Under “Device” you will have 3 settings: Cursor, Eraser and Stylus. Set them from “Disabled” to “Screen”.

Now you should have pressure sensitivity in Gimp. *Hooray!* Just a side note, each input device (stylus,cursor,eraser) has a completely different set of attributes in Gimp, and in theory, you can even assign a unique serial number to different pens to get even more granularity. You will experience this when you try to use your eraser for the first time. Rather than selecting the eraser tool, you get the rectangle selection tool instead. This is by design, believe it or not. Gimp does not care that its an eraser, just that it’s not the pen you were just using. If you choose the eraser tool now, it will remember that for the next time you try to use it. On the plus side, you can set the eraser to be anything, including the Airbrush tool or Clone tool.

If you have any trouble check out the Ubuntu forums and the Wacom Help Page.

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13 thoughts on “Wacom Tablet in Ubuntu

  1. Olaf

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the tutorial!
    I think you might want to point out though that one must always enable the SendCoreEvents for the configured wacom tablet (only the last line is for Intuos3/Cintiq 21UX/Graphire4 tablets:

    Section “ServerLayout”
    Identifier “Default Layout”
    Screen “Default Screen”
    InputDevice “Generic Keyboard”
    InputDevice “Configured Mouse”

    # required for all:
    InputDevice “stylus” “SendCoreEvents”
    InputDevice “eraser” “SendCoreEvents”

    # For non-LCD tablets only
    InputDevice “cursor” “SendCoreEvents”

    #For Intuos3/Cintiq 21UX/Graphire4 tablets.
    InputDevice “pad”

    Regards,
    Olaf

    Reply
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  3. Loïc

    Hi,

    We do maintain a page at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SCIM

    It’s not that accurate for Gutsy / Hardy (I’ll do it when I’ll have installed Hardy in June) but contains good information.

    Mostly, this community documentation was created to counter the misleading claim that one has to compile linuxwacom drivers to use a Wacom tablet in Ubuntu. It is NOT necessary for most recent Linux distributions (and it’s been like that for years, yet you still find this Howto appearing now and then that just try to discourage artists to try Linux).

    The only time where you’ll have to compile the drivers is if you buy a tablet model that’s just been created, and thus you can either compile the latest linuxwacom driver OR wait 6 month (or less) till it’s included in the distribution you’re using.

    Thanks

    Reply
  4. Ryan Post author

    Thanks for the good news.
    My method works in Gutsy and I have yet to try it in Hardy. I am not trying to discourage artists in using Linux. The less code a user has to use the better so this is a step in the right direction. I will try your method for Hardy.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  5. andrew

    hmm…i would like to get my Wacom GD-0608-R Digitizer to work in ubuntu 9.10 though i’m not linux savvy enough to do whats in this tutorial… i mean, i could do it, but my install of ubuntu is already broken enough from me trying to follow guides like this and making mistakes. bleeeeghghh.

    Reply
  6. Bob

    Hi,
    I bought the Wacom Pen CTL-460 for my daughter to use on her Dell Latitude D400 laptop with Ubuntu Karmic Koala loaded after googling to see if it was plug’n’play on that system. Several sites assured me that it was – well, they were either deluded or they lied. It doesn’t show up at all so I set out to find out why.
    I went to the Ubuntu fora and there were several, incredibly complex “solutions” which I painfully worked through but with no success whatsoever – no sign of the tablet either in the file system or in Gimp.
    Finally, someone recommended your solution which seemed remarkably simple and elegant compared to the others. I tried it out but got error messages saying that XORG-SERVER could not be accessed so I made the changes in the xorg.conf file manually and re-booted. CRASH! I got a command line and no GUI. Luckily I was able to delete the xorg file and substitute the back-up and it’s back to normal.
    I assume your solution was for an earlier version of Ubuntu and the later configuration renders it invalid. Any chance of you re-working it for Karmic? I’d be prepared to recommend you for godhood if you would:0)
    Bob

    Reply
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