Wacom tablet via
Image: The Wirecutter

You’ll soon be able to install Wacom firmware updates on Linux.

Red Hat’s Richard Hughes shares word on work he’s done with Wacom engineers to support Wacom’s custom update protocol on Linux.

At present, Wacom advise their customers to upgrade firmware on their graphics tablets using a dedicated desktop app which is only available for Windows and macOS.

But no longer will open source creatives need to keep a dual-boot handy for this purpose.

Specifically, fwupd — more on this tool in a second — is gaining a wacomhid plugin. It’s this plugin which will allow users with compatible graphics tablets and input devices to easily (and, more importantly, safely) update their devices to the latest firmware, direct from the vendor, via LVFS.

“Working with the Wacom engineers has been a pleasure, and the hardware is designed really well. The next graphics tablet you buy can now be 100% supported in Linux,” Hughes adds.

This isn’t the only graphics tablet related work Red Hat is helping to further. Last week we reported on its efforts to support the Dell Canvas on Linux.

What is fwupd & LFVS?

Fwupd‘ — which presumably a truncated form of ‘Firmwire Update’ — is a small utility that handles the download and installation of firmware updates on Linux for bluetooth devices, gamepads, keyboards, USB input devices, and so on.

Firmware is low-level software which runs on a device, and allows other devices (like your computer) to make use of its specific capabilities. Unlike regular software updates which are pushed out over-the-air firmware typically has to be “flashed” to a device manually, using a separate tool.

Although a command line interface is available, fwupd is integrated in the GNOME Software/Ubuntu Software apps.

This means we can all install available  firmware updates alongside our regular software updates — which is kinda crazy/cool!

“But where do the firmware updates come from?” you ask.

Fwupd fetches firmware updates from something called LVFS (Linux Vendor Firmware Service). This is a secure, online portal where OEMs, ODMs, and other hardware vendors can upload redistributable firmware blobs for their devices.

Fwupd connects to this service, fetches the update, and handles the rest.

You can read more about LVFS here.

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