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(Last edited by Zcrayfish on 19 Jan 2024.)

Bluetooth is a standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of cellular phones, computers, and other electronic devices. BlueZ is an implementation of the Bluetooth protocol stack for Linux, and it is provided by the bluez package.

This article describes the basic installation of Bluetooth controllers and devices.

Prerequisites and Basic Installation


Todo: test bluetooth with mdev

eudev should be installed and setup:

# setup-devd udev

Basic Installation

Basic installation is as follows:

  1. Install bluez
  2. Load the btusb kernel module
  3. Add user to the lp group
  4. Start and enable the Bluetooth service

# apk add bluez # apk add bluez-deprecated # modprobe btusb # adduser $USER lp # rc-service bluetooth start # rc-update add bluetooth default

Now, check the state of the Bluetooth radio transmitter using rfkill:

$ rfkill list bluetooth

It should return something similar to:

0: hci0: Bluetooth
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no

If the device is listed as blocked, it can be unblocked using the same tool:

# rfkill unblock bluetooth

Note: It may be necessary to restart the Bluetooth service before continuing.


There are several front-ends available:


Using bluetoothctl

Begin by starting bluetoothctl and follow these basic steps:

$ bluetoothctl

The prompt should display:


List the available controllers:

[bluetooth]# list

Display information about a controller:

[bluetooth]# show controller_mac_address

Set the default controller:

[bluetooth]# select controller_mac_address

Power on the controller:

[bluetooth]# power on

Enable the agent and set it as default:

[bluetooth]# agent on
[bluetooth]# default-agent

Set the controller as discoverable (temporarily for 3 minutes) and pairable:

[bluetooth]# discoverable on
[bluetooth]# pairable on

Scan for devices:

[bluetooth]# scan on

Put the device into pairing mode. This generally involves pressing a button or a combinations of buttons, usually for several seconds.

Discover the device MAC address:

[bluetooth]# devices

Pair with the device:

[bluetooth]# pair device_mac_address

Enter the PIN if prompted:

[agent] PIN code: ####

Trust the device:

[bluetooth]# #trust device_mac_address

Connect to the device:

[bluetooth]# connect device_mac_address

Display information about the device:

[bluetooth]# info device_mac_address

The device is now paired:

[bluetooth]# quit


Set adapter power state

If you would like the adapter to not be automatically enabled (e.g. on a portable device where you wish to save battery), set AutoEnable=false in /etc/bluetooth/main.conf in the [Policy] section:

Contents of /etc/bluetooth/main.conf

[Policy] ... AutoEnable=false ...

Battery Reporting

An experimental feature can be enabled in order to report device battery level:

Contents of /etc/bluetooth/main.conf

[General] ... Experimental=true ...


Due to the variety of available Bluetooth hardware it is possible that you receive errors while attempting to install, activate, or find your Bluetooth device.

"No default controller available" error

After having followed these instructions, or others, you run bluetoothctl and encounter the following scenario:

[bluetooth]# list
[bluetooth]# show
No default controller available

One possible solution is that you are missing firmware drivers.

Try running the following command to discover the source of the issue:

# dmesg | grep -i bluetooth | grep -i firmware

There are many firmware packages available that could likely solve the this problem (see linux-firmware-*).

Another possible solution is to install hidapi and add load the module:

# apk add hidapi # modprobe uhid

Unable to control Bluetooth speaker volume / Bluetooth output is muted (Pulseaudio)

It is possible to automatically switch audio output and volume control to last connected device.

This can solve the problem of controlling the speaker volume when switching between Bluetooth devices.

Append the following lines at the end of the /etc/pulse/

Contents of /etc/pulse/

... ###Automatically switch audio to the most recently connected device (Bluetooth, HDMI, USB) load-module module-switch-on-connect

See Also