The Hardware

The size and appearance of the various Arduino board differs, but they all have things in common:

  • A circuit board with various labelled input/output pins.
  • A small number of integrated LED lights.
  • An USB connector of some kind.
    • This might be "micro", "normal", or "blocky".

When programming it, or experimenting generally, all you have to do is connect it to your (Linux) system via the supplied USB cable.

Identification & Permission Setup

Once connected to your system you should find you have a new device appear, thanks to the wonders of hotplugging. The new device will be called /dev/ttyACM0, or similar. The simplest way to find out what the new device is called is to use the lsusb utility which will show you your connected USB devices.

Run lsusb, then plug in the board, and finally run it again. In my case before I see this:

$ lsusb
Bus 006 Device 002: ID 8087:8000 Intel Corp.
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 015: ID 045e:00db Microsoft Corp. Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 V1.0
Bus 004 Device 013: ID 062a:4101 Creative Labs

After insertion I see this:

$ lsusb
Bus 006 Device 002: ID 8087:8000 Intel Corp.
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 015: ID 045e:00db Microsoft Corp. Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 V1.0
Bus 004 Device 013: ID 062a:4101 Creative Labs
Bus 001 Device 008: ID 2a03:0043

So I know the USB-device which appeared is the arduino board, which was described by this line:

Bus 001 Device 008: ID 2a03:0043

By default the permissions are configured such that I cannot read/write to the device, so we'll fix that, and create a handy symlink for ease of future identification. We'll do this by creating a local udev rule in the file /etc/udev/rules.d/99-arduino.rules - create that file, and give it the following contents:

SUBSYSTEM=="tty", GROUP="plugdev". MODE="0660"

SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0043", ATTRS{idVendor}=="2a03", SYMLINK+="arduino"

Now that the new udev rule is in place we need to reload the service, unplug the device, and plug it in again. That will allow the new rule to be recognized and applied. Reloading the rules can be achieved via:

# /etc/init.d/udev reload

Once that is complete we'll see we have the symlink, and better permissions.

$ ls -l /dev/arduino /dev/ttyACM1
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root         7 Jan  5 08:15 /dev/arduino -> ttyACM1
crw-rw---- 1 root plugdev 166, 1 Jan  5 08:15 /dev/ttyACM1

Software Installation

To write your code, and upload it to your board over the USB cable, you'll need to install the Arduino IDE, which is currently version 1.8.0.

You can find the project here:

The project is written in Java, so you'll need to have a suitable runtime installed.

The current stable release of Debian GNU/Linux includes openjdk-7-jre, which is sadly too old to run the project. To run the IDE you'll need to install the openjdk-8-jre package, via the backports repository.

Board Setup

Once installed you can launch the IDE, and you'll need to make two configuration changes:

  • Specify the type of board you have connected.
  • Specify the appropriate device-name.

To specify the board you have click on the Tools menu, and select the appropriate item beneath the Board sub-menu. In my case I selected "Arduino/Genuino UNO".

Specifying the device is similar, choose the Tools | Port menu, and select the device we identified in the "Identification & Permission Setup" step.

You should now be able to proceed with the exciting world of Arduino development!

First Program

Open your IDE, if not already opened, and load the supplied Blink example. This is done via the Menu:

  • File
  • Examples
  • 01.Basics
  • Blink

Once loaded you can click the buttons on the toolbar - hover your mouse over them from left to right and you'll see "Verify" and "Upload".

Click "Verify", which will compile your program, and then "Upload", which will transfer the compiled code to your board.

All being well you should now see a flashing/blinking light!