Installing the Arduino IDE on Linux Mint

February 7, 2011


The Arduino Playground does a pretty good job of directing users on how to install Arduino on Debian based distributions but there were a couple of spots where I found it was lacking, and had to go out to do my own research. The main thing it lacked was instructions on how to set up a launcher for your desktop or Gnome menu. I will outline those at the end of this guide, but first I will give you a quick overview of the installation process from the start as I performed it on both my Linux Mint laptop and my Ubuntu 9.10 desktop. Although this guide was written with Linux Mint users in mind, there is absolutely no reason this will not work on other Debian based distros.

Open up your console and run the following commands to install some necessary prerequisites. If you know for a fact you have them installed you can skip installing them again. You will most likely be prompted to enter Y before the installation will begin.

sudo apt-get install sun-java5-jre 
sudo apt-get install gcc-avr 
sudo apt-get install avr-libc

Now that you have the prerequisites installed you will need to download the newest version of Arduino. You can save it to your desktop for now. After it has finished downloading open up the folder and extract it to your desired location (such as your home directory) or you can do it in your console as well:

tar xvzf ~/Desktop/arduino-0017.tgz ~/Arduino

At this point it is safe to delete the tarball on your desktop.

At this point Arduino is installed and ready to use. This is also where the Arduino Playground leaves you hanging, no one wants to open up their console every time to launch a program or browse to it with their file explorer. I initially tried creating an installer just as I normally would, by pointing it to ~/Arduino/arduino) only to find that the program did not launch when I clicked it. So I then created a bash script which called the same file and made sure it was executable. Still nothing! So that’s when I realized that I had to do things a bit differently. Nothing too fancy, just a slightly different way of approaching it.

First create an empty bash file and make it executable.

touch ~/Arduino/
chmod a+x ~/Arduino/

Then open it in your favourite text editor (e.g. emacs or pico), and add the following contents to your bash script:

cd ~/Applications/Arduino && ./arduino

Save the file and close your terminal. Right click the Gnome menu and select Add to Panel. Select Custom Application Launcher and hit Add. Enter Arduino for the name, and in the path put /home/username/Arduino/ You can also select an icon for the launcher, which is another place Linux users were left out in the cold as the tarball does not contain an SVG file. Fortunately, I did manage to dig up a PNG version to use. Save this icon to your install directory and select it by clicking the “spring” icon and navigating to your install directory. From there click close to save the settings and add the launcher to your panel.

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