The linuxwacom project maintains a core set of driver components which are critical to the proper functioning of a tablet. Instructions for building each component can be found below.
Before building any component, it is highly recommended to first install all available software updates to see if your distribution has already distributed their own fix for the issues you may be experiencing. If feasible, you may also consider upgrading to a more recent version of your distribution to benefit from even newer software.
The input-wacom driver is a special standalone version of the drivers found in the upstream Linux kernel. It may be installed whenever an updated kernel driver is required but installing the latest Linux kernel is not possible. Installation of this driver is often necessary to add support for new hardware to systems which only receive bugfix updates from their distribution.
When to Build
Installing the input-wacom driver may be necessary if you have connected your tablet and find that it does not work at all (i.e. the pointer does not move in response to pen motion). If the pen works—but works incorrectly—then you may need to file a bug report to determine if you are experiencing a configuration issue or a bug in some other component.
Note that if you are using a distribution like Gentoo, which allows you to build and customize your own Linux kernel from scratch, you should generally opt to simply install the most recent Linux kernel and enable its Wacom HID support option.
See the input-wacom wiki for up-to-date build instructions.
The xf86-input-wacom driver is a userspace driver for the Xorg display server. It is the default driver for most systems which are using Xorg and is typically installed by default. A handful of barebones / roll-your-own distributions like Arch Linux may require you to manually install a package, however.
When to Build
It is not commonly necessary to manually build and install the xf86-input-wacom driver. The software is relatively stable and does not often fix bugs or introduce new features. If you are experiencing an issue which is not mentioned elsewhere on this page, it is recommended to file a bug report so we can determine if you are experiencing a configuration issue or a bug in some other component.
See the xf86-input-wacom wiki for up-to-date build instructions.
The libwacom library and database provides applications with additional tablet information. It is used by control panel applications to show the layout of the tablet and list appropriate tools. It also finds use by the libinput library to provide information to compositors about the tablet's hardware features.
When to Build
The libwacom database needs to be updated any time that a new tablet is released. Distributions are typically slow to update this component on their own, leading to control panel issues. The most common symptom of an out-of-date libwacom database is that your tablet works fine in the applications you use but does not show up in the control panel.
See the libwacom wiki for up-to-date build instructions.