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If you, like me, are a fan of the PopOS distro of LInux you may have run into an issue with the recent 22.04 Update. After updating to 22.04 you may find that you can no longer program your ESP32 device (or likely any other embedded device that enumerates as a virtual COM port).

Luckily the fix is quick and easy. The source of the problem is the BRLTTY package which is now a required package of the Pop desktop and cannot be removed.

BRLTTY is a background process (daemon) which provides access to the Linux/Unix console (when in text mode) for a blind person using a refreshable braille display. It drives the braille display, and provides complete screen review functionality. Some speech capability has also been incorporated.

If you are visually impaired and use a braille display this “fix” will obviously not work for you. If you don’t require the use of a braille display then simply run the following commands to disable the BRLTTY service.

systemctl stop brltty-udev.service  
sudo systemctl mask brltty-udev.service  
systemctl stop brltty.service  
systemctl disable brltty.service 

After running the commands make sure to unplug your ESP32 device and re-attach it before trying to program it again. It should work without requiring a reboot but if it still isn’t working try the ‘ol turn it off and back on again and you should be good to go.

Thanks to Reddit user Cronormo for providing instructions for the workaround.