Wacom Bamboo on Linux 3.1
Here’s what you need to do to get a Wacom Bamboo tablet working on Linux, as far as I can tell:
Just try it. It may work.
If not, check you are running the latest kernel for your distro. That may help.
If not, check that the kernel module is loaded with
lsmod | grep wacom. If that shows nothing,
sudo modprobe wacomand restarting X may help.
If not, check that you are detecting the tablet correctly. Re-plug the USB cable and look at
dmesg. You should see that there is a table on USB (if not, you have serious problems!) and, at the end, a line like
input: Wacom Bamboo Connect Pen as /devices/pci..(obviously the tablet type may change). If you see the USB messages, but don’t see that line (starting with
input:) then you may need a more recent kernel driver. Follow these instruction for installing input-wacom. That should help.
if you see
input:, but have no control over your cursor, you may need a more recent X driver (this is completely separate from the kernel driver). Follow these instructions for installing xf86-input-wacom. That should help.
Even with the above, I have had no luck with the KDE config tool (but it doesn’t seem to be necessary - see the comments below on xsetwacom).
How Good Is It?
If you’re wondering about getting one of these, here’s some info that may help you decide:
Touching the pen on the tablet is like pressing the mouse button. The pen is still tracked (and behaves like a mouse with no button pressed) when it is close to, but not touching, the tablet.
The “active area” on my Bamboo Connect is about 95x147mm. That is significantly less than you might think from looking at the device (it looks as though the entire matt area is sensitive, but in fact half the matt area is unused).
By default, the tablet maps to the entire screen. So it is absolute, not relative like a mouse. You can switch this using
xsetwacom(use it to list devices first, so that you know the name of the pen, etc) or, in theory, in the X11 config. You might think that a relative mode would make it less sensitive, but in fact it is more so, and I have no idea how to control the “zoom factor” (the Area command for xsetwacom seems to restrict the area on the tablet itself, which can only make things worse).
I wouldn’t buy an expensive model without at least trying one, on Linux, first. I imagine good software makes a big difference…
Inkscape seems to be the best way to use the tablet for drawing on Linux. The most recent versions seem to work fine with Watcom tablets, but to actually see anything pressure sensitive you need to:
Make sure that the pen is selected, and pressure sensitivity enabled, in the “Input Devices” window (see File menu).
Make sure that pressure sensitivity is selected in “Input Devices” in the “Inkscape Preferences” window (see File menu).
Select the Calligraphy tool (looks like a pen nib) and check all the following settings:
Width should be greater than 1 (slider on top border)
Pressure sensitive width button should be selected (button to the right of width on top border)
Pressure sensitive colour(?) button should be unselected (button to the right of pressure sensitive width button)
With all that, you should see the width of lines vary with pressure.
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