Wacom Bamboo tablet and Ubuntu Oneiric

February 02, 2012

I’ve recently started using a Wacom Bamboo tablet for drawing diagrams for my notes (a tablet Salman Khan uses for his Khan Academy talks). With Windows 7 I didn’t have any issue getting the tablet up and running, however, Ubuntu was a bit of a different story. As Ubuntu is my primary operating system, there was a certain urgency to getting things fixed.

There are many posts online about how to fix Ubuntu Oneiric (and older) to work with the latest 2011 line of Bamboo Pen tablets (in this case the CTL470). The issue lies with the fact that the drivers included with Ubuntu Oneiric do not support the newest line, which will be supported in Precise Pangolin (12.04) when it is eventually released.

Having dug around and found some truly extensive solutions (lots of custom compilation, different sources for script a, b and c, no integration with apt etc.) I stumbled accross a PPA which contains the newer Wacom support. It can be enabled with a simple:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lekensteyn/wacom-tablet
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dkms wacom-dkms

One reboot later and the tablet was immediately recognised and worked. There is an ongoing issue with the Oneiric version of GIMP which is unable to function with tablets, and has an extensive Launchpad report on the topic, however Inkscape and other applications worked immediately.