Making Wacom Bamboo Pen tablet work under Debian

May 7, 2010

I’ve been trying for days to make my brand new Wacom Bamboo (CTL-460) tablet work under Debian Squeeze. Finally, i wrote to the
linuxwacom-discuss mailing list and Rebecca Breu pointed me to the solution.
This tablet is supported by a driver powered by the linuxwacom project, which provides a kernel module (wacom.ko), a driver ( and more utilities. The problem is that with the debian kernel 2.6.32-5 (latest in squeeze at the time when writing) the wacom module is provided, but its version (1.52) is too old and doesn’t support Bamboo Pen. We want version 1.52-pc-0.3. This also applies to debian kernel 2.6.33-2 (currently under experimental). On the other hand, version 1.7.* has a prebuilt driver which works perfectly, so there’s no need of replacing it.

0- To check out your version, type:

Xorg -version

For the wacom module version, type:

modprobe wacom
dmesg | grep wacom

1- To check if the wacom module works with your tablet, plug it in and do:

modprobe wacom
dmesg | grep -i wacom | grep -i input

If you see anything like

input: Wacom Bamboo 4x5 Pen as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1a.1/usb4/4-2/4-2:1.0/input/input14

then your hardware is supported and there’s no need of compiling the driver. Just skip to step 3.

2- If your hardware is not supported by your wacom module version, then you have to drop the one provided by your kernel and replace it with the latest version compiled by yourself. The following commands apply for kernel version 2.6.32-5 AMD64, but should also work for later kernels, just change 2.6.32-5 in whatever your kernel version is and -amd64 in your architecture:

sudo -s
rmmod wacom
apt-get install build-essential libx11-dev libxi-dev
x11proto-input-dev xserver-xorg-dev tk8.4-dev tcl8.4-dev libncurses5-dev linux-headers-2.6.32-5-amd64

Now that the kernel headers are installed, we have to make a small hack to let the compiling work:

sudo -s
cd /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.32-5-amd64/include/linux/
ln -s /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.32-5-common/include/linux/input.h
ln -s /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.32-5-common/include/linux/input-polldev.h

After this, the system is ready to download the source and compile the wacom module. Do:

cd ~
tar -xf linuxwacom-0.8.8-9.tar.bz2
cd linuxwacom-0.8.8-9
./configure --enable-wacom --with-kernel=/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.32-5-amd64

If everything was fine, install the driver with:

cp src/2.6.30/wacom.ko /lib/modules/2.6.32-5-amd64/kernel/drivers/input/tablet/wacom.ko
depmod -a

Now unplug and replug the tablet and retry step 1 to see if the hardware has been recognized.

3- The wacom drivers are cointained in a package. Do:

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-wacom

To load the module automatically at startup, if your /etc/modules does not contain wacom, edit /etc/modules and add “wacom” in a new line at the bottom of the file.

4- Restart X (or reboot) and draw your self-portrait. Mine is here:
lik self-portrait

Filed under: debian


  • 1. dantefff  |  May 8, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Thanks a lot! It did the work!

    Can I translate it into spanish and post it in my blog? (With references of course)

  • 2. lik  |  May 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    glad to see it worked for you. of course you can translate it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 3. cretox  |  May 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    thanks very very very much
    you made my day

  • 4. Eis  |  May 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks for manual! That`s a madskillz portrait of my gf watching me configuring wacom driver ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 5. ivv  |  August 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    thanks thanks

  • 6. doe  |  September 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I got my Wacom (CTL-460 as well) today, and thanks to your post, I am able to use it now. The current up-to-date kernel from Debian testing is 2.6.32-5, and still had no support for that tablet(-generation?). However, the kernel module works fine, so thanks to you.

    BTW, did you know about the drawing-software “mypaint”? I came across an article while searching for help with the tablet, and find it very intuitive and easy to use. Lots of brushes to choose from. Nice program, if you quickly start to draw. It’s in debian main, too.

  • 7. lik  |  October 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Hey there. Glad to see the post solved your problem. I’ve just installed MyPaint and actually it seems a simple and powerful application for drawing. I’m manly using the tablet for taking notes and making beauty-free drawings ๐Ÿ™‚
    (as you have probably noticed from the drawing above)
    I use Inkscape and Xournal (it’s cool: you can load PDFs and underline or write on them).
    Thanks for the suggestion and cheers!

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  • 9. regisburin  |  October 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve give a link to that page in my blog. In an article in french about installing a Wacom BambooFun CTH661.
    (see it there:

    Thanks a lot for that howto, it helped me in Wacom on Debian installation.


  • 10. Jon Chambers  |  February 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Many thanks – worked for me (although I omitted the –with-kernel to configure and let it find its own kernel source).

    So now time to stop messing around with kernel drivers and start scribbling ๐Ÿ™‚

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