Retro computing with a touch of modern and the home for all things, retroCombs (aka Steven Combs).

Disclosure Statement: When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to Amazon, the eBay Partner Network, and/or others.

31 December 2019

HOWTO: Install the Arduino IDE on Ubuntu Mate

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.

It is possible to install the Arduino IDE from the default Ubuntu repositories using sudo apt install arduino; however, what you will install is a woefully “out-of-date” version. Let’s install the most “up-to-date” software so we can take advantage of the latest tools and Arduino boards available.

I will document the process using Ubuntu Mate version 19.10; however, this should work on most versions of Ubuntu (no promises though). Let’s get started.

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This is the last post of 2019! I can’t believe 2020 has arrived. I wrote this post to help me prepare to teach my Spring 2020 TECH 120 course for Purdue Polytechnic Columbus; which for the first time, will include a section on physical computing. We are going to use ELEGOO Mega 2560 project kits.

Install Ubuntu make

Ubuntu Make, or umake is a command line tool designed to “enable quick and easy setup of common needs for developers on Ubuntu.” It is available as a Snap package or via the default Ubuntu 19.10 repositories. I will use the repository version and follow the directions on the Ubuntu Make GitHub page.

First, fire up the Terminal application and use the commands below:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-make

NOTE: The sudo command will require you to enter your Ubuntu user password.

Install the Arduino IDE

The next step is to use Ubuntu Make, or the umake command, to install the Arduino IDE with the command below:

umake ide arduino

Ubuntu Make installs the application in the default directory shown below:


You do have the option to change this location before installing but I do not recommend.

Provide dialout access

Let’s grant Ubuntu access to the USB ports that will be assigned to the Arduino hardware. This is as simple as the command below:

sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER

Logout of Ubuntu and then log back in. There’s no need to restart but if you have issues, you may want to give the computer a restart.

Run the Arduino IDE

To test your install, you will use another Terminal command:


NOTE: You can add this command to your Ubuntu menu but that’s for another post or a simple Google search.

Configure the Arduino hardware

Plug in the Arduino using the USB cable provided with the device. Select the board type using the following Arduino IDE menu option:

Tools / Board:

Select the type of Arduino board connected. There are many, so be careful when making your selection (see image below).

Selecting the Arduino Board

The last hardware configuration step is to select the port connected to the Arduino. Use the Arduino IDE menu:

Tools / Port:

This is were every machine differs but you should see something similar to the following:


If you have a long list, you can find the correct port with these steps:

  1. Diconnect the Arduino hardware from the computer
  2. Open up the Tools / Port: menu
  3. Make a note of the listed ports
  4. Close the menu
  5. Plug in the Arduino hardware
  6. Open the Tools / Port: menu
  7. Note which new port has been added to the list
  8. Select the new port

You are now ready to program and upload said program to your Arduino.


Updating the Arduino IDE is a manual process. When you discover that an update is available, by reviewing the Arduino software page, simply rerun this command:

umake ide arduino

Ubuntu Make will announce that a previous version is installed and ask to delete it. Answer Y and hit the Return key (⏎) to proceed with the upgrade. You will not need to repeat to the dialout command above.

NOTE: If you are a developer, you may want to look at the Ubuntu Make command umake --list. This will list other IDEs, software, and development environments you can install.


That’s all it takes to install the Arduino IDE on your Ubuntu Mate distribution, run the software, configure the connected Arduino hardware, and keep the software up to date. I hope this blog post saves others some time. It took an hour or so of trial and error for me to find a method that I preferred. If you have questions or find an error, please drop a comment below. Happy programming!