Wacom recognizes the importance of Linux to the entertainment industry and its presence at the core of mobile operating systems like Android and Chrome OS. While we do not provide end-user support for desktop Linux, we do develop and maintain an open-source driver stack in collaboration with developers of the Linux kernel, GNOME, freedesktop.org, and others. Our efforts are centered around the "linuxwacom" project: a community-driven home for core tablet driver components.
Linux users should only rarely need to install anything prior to using their tablet. Most distributions pre-install the linuxwacom driver components, allowing Wacom devices to work out of the box with applications like Krita, Blender, and Xournal++. If properly configured, applications should respond to changes in pressure, tilt, and other available pen features. Many distributions also include some kind of command-line configuration utility or control panel, enabling the customization of pen and tablet behavior.
Sometimes a tablet will not work properly or be recognized by the control panel. These issues are most often a result of misconfiguration or out-of-date drivers. These documents are intended to outline the components which make up the stack, provide guidance on when updates may be necessary, and instruct how to carry out such updates.
The tablet driver stack consists of both "linuxwacom" and third-party components. While Wacom directly contributes to the development of the former, issues in third-party components may also prevent the tablet from working optimally. You may need to reach out to your distribution's support channels for problems with third-party components.
|Linux kernel||The kernel driver is responsible for low-level tablet communication. It initializes the hardware and translates hardware-specific events into a standard form. This standard form is understood by the userspace driver described below.|
We continually submit bugfixes and tablet support patches directly to the Linux kernel. Bugfixes are regularly rolled out by distributions, but many distributions withhold tablet support patches until their next release. For situations requiring a fully up-to-date driver, we offer a standalone version of the driver under the name input-wacom.
|Linux kernel – Our kernel driver is integrated directly into Linux itself and supports most tablets which connect via USB, Bluetooth, or I2C.|
input-wacom – To make installing updates more straightforward, we also offer a standalone version of the current Linux kernel driver.
|Userspace Driver||The userspace driver provides software features that expand on the raw hardware functionality. Examples include programmable ExpressKeys, intelligent palm rejection, left-handed mode, etc.|
Common userspace drivers include xf86-input-wacom for the Xorg display server, and libinput for Wayland-based systems.
|xf86-input-wacom – Userspace driver for the Xorg display server with optimized Wacom tablet support.|
libinput – Helper library which performs many userspace driver functions on behalf of Wayland compositors.
|Display Server / Compositor||The display server / compositor provides the underpinnings of the graphical user environment. It is responsible for exposing tablet events to applications and may provide additional software features of its own.|
The Xorg display server was once the universal choice of desktop Linux distributions. Newer systems may instead be configured to use a Wayland-based compositor like Mutter or KWin. Some Wayland compositors may also rely on the wlroots helper library.
|Xorg – The Xorg display server has been nearly universal for Linux distributions from 2008 to 2018.|
Mutter – The Mutter compositor is used by the GNOME desktop environment. Mutter has supported tablets under Wayland since version 3.22.
KWin – The KWin compositor is used by the KDE Plasma desktop environment. KWin has supported tablets under Wayland since version 5.19.
wlroots – The wlroots library is used by compositors like Sway. wlroots has supported tablets under Wayland since version 0.8.1.
|Toolkits||Toolkits are used by application developers to simplify the process of writing software. Part of a toolkit's job is to react to input from the display server / compositor and abstract them into GUI events like "click" or "drag".|
The most common toolkits used by Linux developers are GTK+ and Qt. Both of these toolkits includes support for tablet events.
|GTK+ – The toolkit of choice for the GNOME desktop and is also used by applications like GIMP and Firefox.|
Qt – The Qt toolkit is most strongly associated with the KDE desktop and is also used by applications like Krita and Google Chrome.
|Applications||The applications that a user wishes to run ultimately must have support for tablet input in order for the pen to have e.g. pressure-sensitive effects. Many artistic and note-taking applications have specific support for tablet data. Such programs may require various degrees of configuration for pressure to take effect.|
Example applications include Xournal++ (no configuration necessary), Krita (pressure-sensitive brush should be chosen), and Blender (pressure-sensitivity checkbox must be enabled).
|Xournal++ – A simple note-taking application.|
Krita – Application focused on providing a digital painting experience.
Blender – A 3D modelling, rendering, and compositing application.
|Utilities & Libraries||Utilities and libraries provide the users, applications, toolkits, and drivers with insight into and control over the tablet. This includes software like control panels, calibration tools, on-screen displays, hardware abstraction libraries, etc.|
The majority of tablet-related utilities and libraries are not developed by the linuxwacom project. Notable exceptions are the xsetwacom command-line configuration utility and the libwacom device database. Tools like the GNOME Control Center, the KDE Wacom Tablet Panel, and xinput-calibrator are popular third-party utilities.
|xsetwacom – The xf86-input-wacom driver includes this command-line configuration utility.|
libwacom – This library provides a database of tablet properties which are used by the GNOME and KDE control panels.
GNOME Control Center – The GNOME desktop control panel includes a section dedicated to Wacom tablet configuration.
KDE Wacom Tablet Panel – An optional plug-in for the KDE control panel for configuration of Wacom tablets.
xinput-calibrator – A command-line tool for calculating calibration parameters for display tablets.