Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Use Processing and Kinect in Ubuntu

I'm working on a project that uses Kinect depth camera to detect a person silhouette as I have mentioned before in this blog.

Part of the development was done using a Mac because I found a library that enabled me to use Kinect directly from Processing (which I've found very convenient for prototyping).

It did not hurt that an OpenCV library for processing was also available.

What was missing was a version of the Kinect's Processing library to be used with GNU/Linux. Fortunately, someone took the time to tweak the Mac version to make it work and to post the process online. It did not work for me exactly as it was but it was close. So just in case you want to experience with it, here are the steps that worked for me:

  1. Get a copy of the library:
    git clone git://
  2. Create a and move to a build directory inside libfreenect folder
    cd libfreenect
    mkdir build
    cd build
    cmake ..
    sudo make install
  3. Go to wrappers/java and edit file (remove -m64 compiler flag unless your platform is 64-bits)
  4. Make sure the folders for libfreenect.a file and for the Java directory containing jni.h are correct in the file
  5. Run
  6. Make sure the step above was error free.
  7. Now copy the folder openkinect from wrappers/java/processing/distribution to your sketchbook/libraries folder
  8. Copy file from wrappers/java/dist to sketchbook/libraries/openkinect/library/
  9. Almost there, create a symbolic link in that last folder:
    ln -s
  10. Fire up Processing IDE and try any of the examples from the openkinect library once you have connected your Kinect to the USB port.
Update: In case of trouble do not forget all the install details provided here.If you're using Ubuntu 11.04, the following packages need to be installed: git-core, cmake, libusb-1.0, g++, libxmu-dev, bixi-dev, libglut3-dev. If it happens to be a 64bit Ubuntu it won't work (I'm still figuring out how to make it work).

Fixed! In case you have 64 bit ubuntu, make sure your processing folder does not include java binaries (if it does, it'll likely be 32 bit, as it was the case with my processing 1.5.1). Once you're using 64 bit java, the 64 bit library created with the instructions above will work nicely too.


  • At 9:20 pm, Blogger Philipp said…

    Miguel - thank you very much for your step-by-step tutorial.

    I get an error running the

    " 16: JDK_HOME=: not found
    In file included from OpenKinectJNI/org_openkinect_Context.cpp:32:0:
    OpenKinectJNI/org_openkinect_Context.h:2:17: fatal error: jni.h: No such file or directory
    compilation terminated.
    In file included from OpenKinectJNI/org_openkinect_Device.cpp:29:0:
    OpenKinectJNI/org_openkinect_Device.h:2:17: fatal error: jni.h: No such file or directory
    compilation terminated."

    I would really appreciate, if you could post an example how the Java directory containing jni.h are correct in the file.

    Thank you very much in advance!!

  • At 10:02 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi Philipp,

    I guess the JDK_HOME variable is not properly set.

    Edit and make sure the proper value is set after it says:

    then JDK_HOME="/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun-"

    (the value shown above is ok for my system).

    I did another change to the file:


    (just put the proper path for libfreenect.a in your system).

  • At 11:29 pm, Blogger Philipp said…

    Miguel - thank you for the help with the Everything worked without error.

    I try to run an example in processing but it give me an error in the line of code:


    libusb couldn't open USB device /dev/bus/usb/001/004: Permission denied.
    libusb requires write access to USB device nodes.
    Exception in thread "Animation Thread" java.lang.NullPointerException
    at org.openkinect.processing.Kinect.enableDepth(
    at AveragePointTracking$KinectTracker.(
    at AveragePointTracking.setup(
    at processing.core.PApplet.handleDraw(Unknown Source)
    at Source)

    I reinstalled libreenect, added myself to video, created the udev rules.

    Any hint what the problem above could be? Do i have to run processing with sudo?

  • At 12:07 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi Philipp:

    Did you get C++ examples from libfreenect working?

    I think I have forgotten to mention one important step. To make the

    sudo make install

    (that would create the udev rules).

    Please try to do that to see if works.

  • At 6:09 pm, Blogger Philipp said…

    Miguel - SOLVED.

    Thank you very much for your help.

    Everything works fine now.

    I followed your instructions (yes the glview example worked perfect).

    I also re-installed the Java Sun JDK for Ubuntu 11.04 from with this link:

    Again, thanks a lot!

  • At 10:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Miguel, thanks a lot for the help, everything worked after I re-installed the Java sun jdk.

    I followed you instructions above and in the latest post.

  • At 10:55 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    You're welcome. Glad to be useful.

  • At 2:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, thanks for your guide.
    I've gotten everything compiled without errors, on 64-bit Ubuntu 11.10, but can't get the kinect examples to work in processing. I get this error:

    java: symbol lookup error: /home/trix/sketchbook/libraries/openkinect/library/ undefined symbol: libusb_init

    Does anyone have any ideas?

  • At 4:57 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    I'm assuming you have libusb-1.0 already installed in your system. The complaint is about not being able to find libusb init code.

    You can try #openkinect channel on IRC.

  • At 4:43 pm, Blogger Mike Beardmore said…

    I found a solution to the libusb_init error at

    i.e. adding
    -lusb-1.0 to the gcc command.

  • At 12:01 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Thanks a lot for sharing it Mike!


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