After much trial and error, I finally successfully installed and am using a properly functioning version of HEYU. I use it at home to control some of the lighting and plan to expand my X10 empire soon. This post is help guide those of you struggling to get yours up and running either because the other tutorials out there are outdated or poorly written, making it mind numbingly frustrating to say the least.

I could NOT get HEYU installed using the official web site and files, it never worked for me and I ended up finding a version on authored by lamby ( All props go to you lamby ) that actually worked and that is the version I am sharing with you.

Heyu overview
HEYU is a text-based console program for remotely controlling lights and appliances in the home or office. The complete source is made available under the GNU GPLv3 license.

Heyu uses the CM11A computer interface to send and receive X10 control signals over the AC power lines to modules which can turn On, Off, or Dim attached lamps or appliances. It can store a schedule of timed events in the CM11A memory for execution when the computer is turned off or disconnected.

Heyu is developed and maintained under Linux. Compile options for Mac OS X (Darwin), FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SunOS/Solaris, SCO Unix, AIX, NextStep, and OSF have been implemented with the aid of the Heyu User Community. I an currently running it on Ubuntu 12.04 TLS and that is the platform on which my tutorial is based. Lets get started …


  • Download the HEYU package – This is the modified copy of v2.10 rc2 from Lamby
    If you are running the non graphical version of Ubuntu ( Like any Jedi in training should ) you will need to be doing everything in the terminal, in that case you’d download the package like this,
  • Heyu requires a reasonable compiler (GCC works well), the ‘make’ program, and the development header (.h) files. Many OS distributions will either install these by default or provide a visible option to include the “development package” during OS installation. But some of the newer OS’s do not, e.g., with Ubuntu Linux it’s necessary to afterward execute the command ‘apt-get install build-essential’.

Tip: I downloaded my copy straight into my home directory, so /home/username

  1. Decompress the file
  2. Change to the directory where it was decompressed
    IN THE TERMINAL cd lamby-pkg-heyu-04b11ea
  3. Run the configure application
    IN THE TERMINAL ./Configure
  4. Run make
  5. Run make install as the super user
    IN THE TERMINAL sudo make install
  6. Tip: The ‘make install’ requires that you have write permissions to /usr/local/bin, man page, and other directories.

  7. As a normal user test the installation
    IN THE TERMINAL heyu info
  8. Tip: It can take 5-8 seconds to set up the heyu_relay daemon and initialize the CM11A interface the first time Heyu is run, e.g., with
    IN THE TERMINAL heyu info
    Running ‘heyu help’ in the terminal will display the long list of Heyu commands.

Test the bad boy
Now, assuming you have bought some X10 modules and have configured them correclty, and have a light configured as “a1″, if you run heyu on b1 in the terminal the light should turn on. If it doesn’t, you may need to edit the heyu config file. What I did was copy the x10.conf file over manually to give me all the config options and then I simply kept what I wanted and deleted the rest, for more on this, just comment or the heyu FAQ page is a good place to start.

So your install should now be working, but if it is not … read on …

With my installation I had to manually get around some issues, here’s what happened …

  • I tried to run heyu start but got an error about missing the /usr/local/var/tmp/heyu folder
  • I tried to create folder as user but didn’t have permissions
  • So IN THE TERMINAL I ran sudo mkdir /usr/local/var/tmp/heyu to create the folder
  • I tried again, now it complained about missing the /usr/local/var/lock folder
  • So IN THE TERMINAL I ran sudo mkdir /usr/local/var/lock
  • I tried again, it complained about no write access to the lock folder
  • So I added write access to lock folder by running,
    IN THE TERMINAL sudo chmod 666 /usr/local/var/lock
  • I tried testing it but it reported “HEYU: Can’t open tty line. Check the permissions.”
  • To solve that one, IN THE TERMINAL I ran sudo chmod 777 /dev/ttyUSB0, now thats because I am using the USB/serial dongle, you are using the standard serial then run;
    sudo chmod 777 /dev/ttyS0

About the author

Joel Barnard, Graphic Designer currently employed by Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke Architects in Riverside California. Follow me on flickr or linkedin. I HATE facebook.

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