Troubleshoot Bluetooth Issues Edit on GitHub

Bluetooth issues can be troubleshooted in several ways. The first thing to check is toggling airplane mode which will sometimes get Bluetooth functioning again. Next, make sure Bluetooth is enabled in the top bar, or in the Bluetooth system settings.

Then, try reinstalling Bluetooth related software with this command:

sudo apt install --reinstall bluez gnome-bluetooth indicator-bluetooth pulseaudio-module-bluetooth

NOTE: After reinstalling the above packages, fully shut down the machine and then power it back on, rather than rebooting. This ensures the hardware completely resets.

If tlp is installed, then there may be settings interfering with Bluetooth functionality. Edit this file and disable Wifi and Bluetooth power saving features:

sudo gedit /etc/default/tlp

Useful Programs

There is a program called Bluetooth Manager which is included with XFCE. It can sometimes pair and trust Bluetooth devices better than the default Bluetooth settings. Install it with:

sudo apt install blueman

Then, run Bluetooth Manager. Check for the device being trusted, and also try re-pairing in that program.

Useful Commands

lsmod | grep bluetooth
dmesg | grep Bluetooth

These will show if the Bluetooth module (driver) is loaded, and what the system messages are.

sudo systemctl status bluetooth

This will check to see if the service that handles Bluetooth is running.

rfkill list
sudo rfkill unblock bluetooth

If both Bluetooth and Wireless are soft blocked or if the Wireless is soft blocked run this command to unblock:

sudo rfkill unblock all

This will check to see Bluetooth is blocked, and if so, unblock it.

pactl load-module module-bluetooth-discover

This will load the PulseAudio module responsible for Bluetooth Audio. Typically, it’s loaded by default, but sometimes a manual loading can get Bluetooth headsets working again.

sudo btmon

This will show all Bluetooth related messages. Try leaving this command running while pairing or using a device to see any error messages or failures.

Additional Info

Here are a few additional tidbits about the Bluetooth system that may help with troubleshooting.

Controlling audio

Once you are connected to a Bluetooth speaker, you may need to change where your current audio is “routed”. You can get a more advanced interface to settings on audio with the program called PulseAudio Volume Control. To install, run this command:

sudo apt install pavucontrol

There will be a drop-down in the Playback tab for each of your applications that is outputting sound that you should be able to change to your Bluetooth speaker.

Linux Firmware

Occasionally the kernel and/or Linux firmware will have problems. Sometimes, newer Linux firmware packages will have fixed bugs that aren’t yet in the repositories. They can be downloaded from here:

Then they can be installed with this command:

sudo dpkg -i linux-firmware_1.167.1_all.deb

File Transfer

Sometimes, additional programs need to be installed for mobile equipment file transfer. Please install the transfer tool with this command:

sudo apt install obexfs obexftp

Then connect (pair) to the device and see if send files works. To receive files over Bluetooth you will need to enable the option in Personal File Sharing.

Article last modified: 2020-08-27