Bluetooth headset

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This article describes how to set up a bluetooth headset with Arch Linux. Before you get started, you have to make sure that bluetooth is set up and working, especially that the dbus and hcid (started with the bluetooth start scriptlet) daemons are running.


It is much easier to set up your bluetooth headset today, with bluez >= 3.16. You may wanna try the out-of-box python script in this blog (you need edit the skript to work with gconftool-2). There's also a piece of equivalent bash script here.

The following method is out-of-date and obsoleted.

NOTE: This method is also outdated as with newer versions of BlueZ.

You need your headset's bdaddr. It is of the form 12:34:56:78:9A:BC. Either find it in the documentation of your headset, on the headset itself or with the hcitool scan command.

Install btscoAUR from AUR.

To load the kernel module, type

# modprobe snd-bt-sco

There will now be an extra audio device. Use alsamixer -cN (where N is most likely 1) to set the volume. You can access the device with any alsa-capable application by choosing the device BT headset, or with any OSS application by using /dev/dspN as the audio device.

But to actually get any sound, you have to connect your headset to the computer first.

Connecting the headset

If you connect your headset for the first time, read the section about pairing first. To connect to your headset to the computer, use the command

$ btsco -f <bdaddr>

for example

$ btsco -f 12:34:56:78:9A:BC

Pairing the headset with your computer

The first time you connect the headset, you have to pair it with the computer. To do this, you need your headset's PIN. Depending on your headset you may have to reset the headset and repeat the pairing everytime you used the headset with another bluetooth device.

There are two ways to pair your headset with the computer:

Using bluez-gnome

Install the bluez-gnome package from the community repository. Then start the bt-applet program. Once you try to connect to the headset, a window will open and ask for the PIN.

Using passkey-agent

Before connecting to the headset, enter the command

$ passkey-agent --default <pin>

where <pin> is your headset's PIN. Then try to connect to the headset.

Headset and Alsa Devices

1. First if you have not already, install bluez

# pacman -S bluez

2. Scan for your device

$ hcitool (-i <optional hci#>***) scan

3. Pair your headset with your device

$ bluez-simple-agent (optional hci# ***) XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX
  and put in your pin (0000 or 1234, etc)

4. Add this to your/etc/asound.conf file


pcm.btheadset {
   type plug
   slave {
       pcm {
           type bluetooth
           device XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX 
           profile "auto"
   hint {
       show on
       description "BT Headset"
ctl.btheadset {
  type bluetooth

5. Check to see if it has been added to alsa devices

$ aplay -L

6. Now play with aplay:

$ aplay -D btheadset /path/to/audio/file

or Mplayer:

$ mplayer -ao alsa:device=btheadset /path/to/audio/or/video/file
      • To find hci# for a usb dongle, type in
$ hcitool dev

Headset's multimedia buttons

In order to get your bluetooth headset's multimedia buttons (play, pause, next, previous) working you need to add uinput to MODULES section in /etc/rc.conf:

MODULES=(fuse ipw2200 ... uinput)

PulseAudio method

This one`s much easier and more elegant. PulseAudio will seamlessly switch between output devices when the headset is turned on. If you have ALSA as the sound server, you need the following packages installed:

# pacman -S pulseaudio pulseaudio-alsa

The latter package is the only one in the pulseaudio-gnome group, you could install that instead.

Now, to configure the audio output to use bluetooth, just install and run pavucontrol to configure the audio output:

# pacman -S pavucontrol
$ pavucontrol

That`s it!

See [this blog] for futher explanations. Make sure to take a look at the PulseAudio wiki entry for setting up PulseAudio, especially if you are running KDE.

Switch between HSV and A2DP setting

This can easily be achieved by the following command where 2 needs to be changed with the correct device number.

pacmd set-card-profile 2 a2dp


Alternative method of connecting a BT headset to Linux:

See also: