Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx and Wacom Bamboo CTL460 (revisited with Q&A)

In my first post on this subject,  I demonstrated how to enable the Wacom Bamboo CTL460 on Ubuntu 10.04.   Since then, I have received a number of questions which gave me the impression that some items need a more thorough explanation.  Following the Q&A, I will repeat my steps from my previous post.  This time with a slightly newer version of the driver.  The steps are the same.

Wacom Bamboo

Wacom Bamboo CTL460

Questions and Answers

Question:  I tried your steps but my Wacom tablet model xxx doesn’t work. Can you help?


If you have some other Wacom tablet besides the model CTL460, these instructions may not work for you.  You are welcome to try them.  Since I only have the model CTL460, I am limited in the amount of advice that I can give you for whatever model you have.  If you can’t figure it out and I’m unable to help, you should try contacting the maintainer of the linuxwacom project or the author of the driver.  (modinfo wacom | grep author)

Question:  My Wacom tablet used to work under Ubuntu 9.xx, or 8.xx.  Why won’t it work under 10.04?


One myth that needs to be addressed, is that the Wacom CTL460 is supported by Ubuntu 10.04 and will work out-of-the-box.  That is not true. If you had a previous version of Ubuntu and your Wacom CTL460 worked out-of-the-box, you need to realize that it no longer just works out-of-the-box.  There have been some changes to xorg since then.  In addition, if you have been using instructions in the past (previous to 10.04)  which included making changes to /etc/udev/rules.d, you can throw those out.  Those instructions do not apply anymore.  Furthermore, you do not need to install the package xserver-xorg-input-wacom.  That package contains code that does not work for this tablet. You can remove it if you want since it has no impact on the rest of these instructions.

Question:  Your steps worked great but one day I rebooted and my tablet doesn’t work anymore.  Help?


You recently ran Update Manager and one of the packages you updated was the kernel image package.  Not a problem.  This is normal and to be expected.  You need to follow the steps again each time the kernel image package is updated to reinstall a new driver.

Question:  I was trying to configure my table in Gimp but I did not see a wacom input device.  Help?


Make sure that your tablet is plugged in and working before you start the Gimp application.

Question:   Help?  I was following your steps but I noticed the following message:

Note: this package only supports Xorg server older than 1.6.5.
You are running a newer version.
Please build xf86-input-wacom instead.


Simply ignore it.  I did.

Question: When will the Wacom CTL460 be supported out-of-the-box?


I don’t know.  Hopefully in the next version.


Install the following packages:

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

Download the source code for the wacom driver from Sourceforge.  The current version as this writing is linuxwacom-0.8.8-3.

tar jxvf linuxwacom-0.8.8-3.tar.bz2
cd linuxwacom-0.8.8-3/
./configure –enable-wacom
cd ./src/2.6.30
sudo cp wacom.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet
sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe wacom

That is all.  You can plug in your Wacom CTL460 Bamboo tablet and begin using it.

If you take anything away from this exercise please remember this

What we did was replace the wacom driver that comes with the kernel package.  We simple copied our newly built wacom driver in its place.  Whenever you update the kernel package, you need to follow these steps again.  Be sure to reboot first so that you are running the new kernel prior to rebuilding a new driver.

If you don’t want to download a new version from Sourceforge, you can keep the folder from above and reuse it.   In that case you just need to do the following steps (don’t overlook the make clean below):

reboot (so that you are running the new kernel)
cd linuxwacom-0.8.8-3/
make clean
sudo cp wacom.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/input/tablet
sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe -r wacom
sudo modprobe wacom

Additional tips

  • When you run Update Manager, be on the lookout for updates to the kernel image.  After updating the kernel image, you should reboot.  You will then be required to reinstall a new wacom driver.
  • Unplug your Wacom tablet before you rebuild a new module.
  • Plug in your tablet after you are done installing the new driver.
  • Plug in your table before you start Gimp or any other application that will be using your tablet.
  • While your tablet is plugged in, you can verify that your driver is loaded by using lsmod | grep wacom
  • Become familiar with modprobe, udevadm, and /var/log/kernel.log for additional low level troubleshooting

Wacom Bamboo CTL460 diagnostics using xidump

I’m going to show you a program called xidump that comes with the Wacom driver.  I use it to view raw data from my Wacom tablet.

Some of the data you can see are:

  • Pen coordinates
  • Amount of pressure
  • Pen Proximity events
  • Button events

I must assume that you already have a working Wacom tablet and that you are using the Wacom driver from Sourceforge.  If not, see my previous post on the subject.  The current driver as of this writing is linuxwacom-0.8.7.tar.bz2

Go to the folder where you downloaded the Wacom driver source.  If you don’t have the driver source anymore, then download it again from the link above.

Extract the driver source.  The xidump program is already prebuilt, therefore you won’t be compiling anything.  It is ready to use.

$ tar jxvf linuxwacom-0.8.7.tar.bz2

$ cd linuxwacom-0.8.7/

If your system is 32-bit, then use the 32-bit xidump.

$ cd prebuilt/32

If your system is 64-bit, then use the 64-bit xidump

$ cd prebuilt/64

If your Wacom table it not connected, please connect it now.  List the available input devices.  If you have the CTL460, like I do, you will be using the device named “Wacom Bamboo 4×5 Pen”

$ ./xidump -l
Virtual core pointer           disabled
Virtual core keyboard          keyboard
Virtual core XTEST pointer     extension
Virtual core XTEST keyboard    extension
Power Button                   extension
Power Button                   extension
Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000 extension
Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 2000 extension
Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse  extension
Macintosh mouse button emulation extension
Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Finger pad    extension
Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Finger        extension
Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Pen eraser    extension
Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Pen           extension

Let’s run xidump and view some raw data.  If you have a different tablet than the CTL460, then you will see a different list of device names.  Determine which device name applies to your model using trial and error, if it’s not obvious to you.

$ ./xidump "Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Pen"

After running xidump, pick up the pen and begin using it with your tablet.  You should see a screen like the following in your terminal.

Viewing raw data with xidump

The picture above shows the current coordinates of my pen.  It shows the maximum values.  You can see that I was applying a pressure of 491, which almost half of the maximum pressure value of 1023.  The 01-DOWN event  means that the pen was touching the tablet surface rather than hovering above.  You can use this tool to test various pen and tablet features, while you are using your tablet with other applications such as Gimp.  When you are done, use ctrl-c in the terminal window to terminate program.