Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bluetooth on Linux

My laptop (Dell D430, purchased 2008) doesn't have a Bluetooth card. This hasn't been a problem until recently, when I decided it would be nice to use a regular-sized wireless mouse when using the laptop at home. (Normally, I use a wired "travel" mouse, which is a bit small and so makes my hand cramp if I use it for any length of time.) So I needed a Bluetooth adapter.

My criteria were simple: (1) it shouldn't cost a lot, and (2) it shouldn't be too obtrusive. I asked our desktop support guys at work, and they pointed me to the Belkin #F8T016 USB adapter, which I ordered elsewhere for about $15.

It was remarkably easy to get working under Linux:
  1. Insert the USB adapter
  2. Boot the laptop using Linux
My desktop's top bar then sported a Bluetooth icon, up next to the wireless network icon. Clicking that, and selecting "Set up new device..." I was able to quickly "discover" my Bluetooth mouse, and pair it with my laptop. Easy!

For the curious: this works exactly as you'd expect if you boot Linux first, then insert the adapter. Linux loads support for the adapter behind the scenes, and the Bluetooth icon appears on the desktop, like magic. You can remove the adapter at any time, if you are done using it.

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