With Ubuntu 16.04 I've been attempting to pair by Apple airpods as a headset. They come up as headphones. They work fine as headphones, but I would like the microphone to be available

airpods pairing as headphones, not headset

  • I don't have an answer to your question, but just hoping to get more info: are you able to listen to music from Ubuntu 16.04 on you airpods via bluetooth? I didn't realize they were using standard protocols that Ubuntu could use. – Artur Sapek Oct 16 '17 at 0:15
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    I have the same problem with Airpods: In Ubuntu we can only see the AD2P bluetooth profile for the airpods. But there is no HFP bluetooth profile presented to use the microphone. – chronos00 Nov 10 '17 at 18:02
  • Any updates on this? – highsciguy Jan 2 '18 at 19:54
  • There is a related bug report here bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=93898. The issue seems to be related to pulseaudio. Some report to have the microphone of their (non-Apple) equipment working when setting an option in /etc/pulse/default.pa. I have also tried to install pulseaudio from ppa. These efforts did not take me anywhere, unfortunately. – highsciguy Jan 2 '18 at 19:57
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    There still doesn't seem to be an answer to the question of using the AirPods microphone in Ubuntu as of June 2020. – kas Jun 2 '20 at 19:45

I was helped by the instruction below.

  1. Set ControllerMode = bredr or ControllerMode = dual by editing /etc/bluetooth/main.conf file using sudo nano /etc/bluetooth/main.conf command (or another text editor of your choice)
  2. sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart
  3. Try to pair again.
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    setting dual does not really make sense as it is the default mode – Wlad Dec 13 '19 at 9:09
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    Setting ControllerMode = bredr worked for me on Ubuntu 18.04, Airpods 1. – samb102 Dec 16 '19 at 8:31
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    Are the AirPods being connected as a headset though when using this approach? – johnnyodonnell May 26 '20 at 17:40
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    Thank you. I wasn't able to connect my AirPods Pro in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Adding "ControllerMode = bredr" fixed the issue for me. Also echoing that "ControllerMode = dual" was the default. I can't confirm that this answers the original question though, about the AirPods being connected as a headset. – kas Jun 2 '20 at 19:35
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    This answer is highly upvoted but it's about connecting airpods, not about the original question which is about connecting them as headset. – Arthur B Oct 2 '20 at 10:23

I was desperately searching on the websites, but I finally found this blog post which was really helpful to get familiar with a complementary Bluetooth stack. Here's the solution which I have changed and added to it according to my experience:

  1. Install bluez Bluetooth stack (like a full set of Bluetooth drivers which allows the Linux OS direct access to Bluetooth):

    sudo apt-get install bluez*

  2. Optional: install Bluetooth manager, Blueman:

    sudo apt-get install blueman

  3. Load USB Bluetooth driver (Bluetooth dongle):

    modprobe btusb

  4. Restart bluetooth service:

    sudo systemctl restart bluetooth

  5. Add controller mode setting to be dual Bluetooth configuration /etc/bluetooth/main.conf change this mode to bredr or le in case you have problem with your AirPods:

    ControllerMode = dual

  6. Now try to pair your AirPods!

The source of the issue is that Ubuntu's Bluetooth driver doesn't cover AirPods' one.

My system specification:

  • Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS
  • Mini Bluetooth 4.0 USB 2.0 CSR4.0 Dongle Adapter


You might need to choose either dual or bredr for ControllerMode in step 5.

enter image description here

  • 3
    dual is the default, I doubt setting it make any difference. There is another command to manage services which is IMO much easier to remember: sudo service bluetooth restart, sudo service bluetooth status. It comes with tap autocomplete so you can type sudo service hit TAB and see all available services or type sudo service blue + hit TAB which will show all services starting with blue or autocomplete to bluetooth – Wlad Dec 13 '19 at 9:24
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    Setting to bredr made pairing of AirPods Pro finally succeed - but only as headphones, not as headset. The volume was a bit too low so I had to activate Over-Amplification in sound settings to allow volume up beyond 100%. – Wlad Dec 13 '19 at 9:38
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    @Wlad I have the same partial solution, still no way to use as headset – Edgar Aroutiounian Mar 24 '20 at 22:16
  • The same result can be achieved in much fewer steps with the other answer. – kas Jun 2 '20 at 19:47

I finally had my microphone working with Ubuntu 18.04 and Airpods Pro. It seems it is not just Airpods, but Galaxy Buds and several other bluetooth variants. We need HSP (low speaker output but mic enabled) and not A2DP.

Please refer to this very nice write-up: https://askubuntu.com/a/1236379/692059

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