How to Set Up Bluetooth in Linux

Bluetooth is still very important in the world today given that a wide range of devices rely on its protocol to perform various operations. Most laptops come with built-in Bluetooth adapters, but even if yours doesn’t, external Bluetooth dongles are cheap and plentiful in supply.

Having Bluetooth properly set up on your machine allows you to use a Bluetooth mouse, keyboard, headset or any Bluetooth accessories you might own.

Unfortunately, it’s a hit or miss in Linux. I haven’t had Bluetooth working out of the box across the range of hardware and distros I have tried.

But usually once you’ve installed a few packages and made a few tweaks, everything works flawlessly, at least that has been my experience.

So if you’ve had trouble connecting to your Bluetooth accessories from your Linux PC, this post should help.

First, you need to install the required packages on your computer. If you’re on Ubuntu or an Ubuntu-based distro, run the following command:

sudo apt-get install bluetooth bluez bluez-tools rfkill

Next, make sure your Bluetooth device is not blocked. You can verify that using the rfkill utility:

sudo rfkill list

bluetooth-linux-rfkill

As you can see from the screenshot above, my Bluetooth device is neither soft-blocked or hard-blocked. If yours is blocked for some reason, you can unblock it using the same rfkill command.

sudo rfkill unblock bluetooth

Finally, make sure the Bluetooth service is active by running the following command.

sudo service bluetooth start

Before you start scanning for devices, install the blueman package which helps you pair and manage Bluetooth devices.

On Ubuntu use the following:

sudo apt-get install blueman

Once the installation is complete, launch the Bluetooth Manager from your applications launcher.

bluetooth-linux-blueman

By default, your Bluetooth device is hidden. You need to make it visible so that it can be discovered by other devices.

Go to “Adaptor -> Preferences” and change the visibility setting to “Always visible” or “Temporarily visible,” whichever you prefer. You can also set a name for your Bluetooth device. This name is what will show up when other Bluetooth devices discover your PC.

bluetooth-linux-visibility

Next, start scanning for Bluetooth devices by clicking “Search” and wait for a few moments for the scan to complete.

All visible and discoverable Bluetooth devices will be listed in the Bluetooth manager.

bluetooth-linux-scan

Now you should be able to pair and connect to your Bluetooth devices without breaking a sweat. Here’s how to connect to an Android device, for example.

1. Right-click the relevant entry on the list and click “Pair.” This will initialise a pairing request which the other device will have to accept.

bluetooth-linux-pair

2. Next, enter a PIN code in the dialog box and click OK. A four digit number should do.

bluetooth-linux-pin

3. Finally, go to your Android device and enter the same pin to confirm the pairing.

bluetooth-linux-pair-android

If everything goes well, the devices will be paired, and a new lock icon will appear on the device’s entry. On your Android device, your laptop should also appear under the “Paired devices” section.

bluetooth-linux-paired

bluetooth-linux-send

To send files to your smartphone, right-click the device and click “Send file” from the context menu. Next, select the file you want to send. A notification will appear on your phone asking you to confirm you want to receive the file.

bluetooth-linux-confirm-share

You can also receive files from your smartphone in a similar manner. Just make sure to initialise the transaction from your smartphone and confirm receipt on your computer.

Pairing with your Bluetooth headset should be easy enough. You do not need a PIN code here, so it should pair automatically once you send the request to pair the devices. Next, right-click the entry for the headset and connect to “Handsfree.”

bluetooth-linux-headset

Once it’s connected, you may have to go to your sound settings and switch the output device to your Bluetooth headset before it begins to work.

bluetooth-linux-change-output

That’s all I’ve had to do to get my Bluetooth devices working perfectly with my Linux machines. Don’t forget to leave a comment if these instructions work for you as well.

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