I2C, SMBus and Raspbian Linux

Created 02/10/2015 | Find out how to set up I2C communication on the Rasberry Pi using i2c tools.

This page details how to setup I2C support on the Raspbian "Jessie" image from http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads

Step 1: Download the latest Raspbian linux image and burn to your SD Card following the instructions on http://elinux.org/RPi_Easy_SD_Card_Setup

If you are using Raspian Linux 3.18 or later you need to go into the raspberry pi config utility and enable I2C.

sudo raspi-config

Select 5 Interfacing Options and then  P5 I2C. A prompt will appear asking Would you like the ARM I2C interface to be enabled?, select Yes, exit the utility and reboot your raspberry pi.

sudo reboot

Step 2: Next you need to update your Raspberry Pi to ensure all the latest packages are installed:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Step 3 a:  Once you have logged into your Raspberry Pi from the command line, run the following command to install SMBus and Python Dev:

sudo apt-get install python-smbus python3-smbus python-dev python3-dev

Step 4:  From the command line, run the following command to install i2c-tools:

sudo apt-get install i2c-tools

For previous releases before Raspian Linux 3.18 you need to complete the following steps:

Step 5:

For recent versions of the Raspberry Pi (3.18 kernel or later) you will need to update the /boot/config.txt file.  Open the file with nano using the command:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Add the following text to the bottom of the file:


Save your changes and exit the nano editor.

All versions:

Step 6: To avoid having to run the I2C tools at root you will need to add the ‘pi’ user to the I2C group:

sudo adduser pi i2c

Step 7: Next reboot the Raspberry Pi:

sudo reboot

When your Raspberry Pi has rebooted you will now have I2C and SMBus Python 2 or 3 support.




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