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13.2. USB and Sysfs
Due to the complexity of a single USB physical device, the representation of that device in sysfs is also quite complex. Both the physical USB device (as represented by a struct usb_device) and the individual USB interfaces (as represented by a struct usb_interface) are shown in sysfs as individual devices. (This is because both of those structures contain a struct device structure.) As an example, for a simple USB mouse that contains only one USB interface, the following would be the sysfs directory tree for that device:
/sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:09.0/usb2/2-1 |-- 2-1:1.0 | |-- bAlternateSetting | |-- bInterfaceClass | |-- bInterfaceNumber | |-- bInterfaceProtocol | |-- bInterfaceSubClass | |-- bNumEndpoints | |-- detach_state | |-- iInterface | `-- power | `-- state |-- bConfigurationValue |-- bDeviceClass |-- bDeviceProtocol |-- bDeviceSubClass |-- bMaxPower |-- bNumConfigurations |-- bNumInterfaces |-- bcdDevice |-- bmAttributes |-- detach_state |-- devnum |-- idProduct |-- idVendor |-- maxchild |-- power | `-- state |-- speed `-- version
The struct usb_device is represented in the tree at:
while the USB interface for the mouse—the interface that the USB mouse driver is bound to—is located at the directory:
To help understand what this long device path means, we describe how the kernel labels the USB devices.
The first USB device is a root hub. This is the USB controller, usually contained in a PCI device. The controller is so named because it controls the whole USB bus connected to it. The controller is a bridge between the PCI bus and the USB bus, as well as being the first USB device on that bus.
All root hubs are assigned a unique number by the USB core. In our example, the root hub is called usb2, as it is the second root hub that was registered with the USB core. There is no limit on the number of root hubs that can be contained in a single system at any time.
Every device that is on a USB bus takes the number of the root hub as the first number in its name. That is followed by a - character and then the number of the port that the device is plugged into. As the device in our example is plugged into the first port, a 1 is added to the name. So the device name for the main USB mouse device is 2-1. Because this USB device contains one interface, that causes another device in the tree to be added to the sysfs path. The naming scheme for USB interfaces is the device name up to this point: in our example, it's 2-1 followed by a colon and the USB configuration number, then a period and the interface number. So for this example, the device name is 2-1:1.0 because it is the first configuration and has interface number zero.
As the devices go further down in the USB tree, and as more and more USB hubs are used, the hub port number is added to the string following the previous hub port number in the chain. For a two-deep tree, the device name looks like:
As can be seen in the previous directory listing of the USB device and interface, all of the USB specific information is available directly through sysfs (for example, the idVendor, idProduct, and bMaxPower information). One of these files, bConfigurationValue, can be written to in order to change the active USB configuration that is being used. This is useful for devices that have multiple configurations, when the kernel is unable to determine what configuration to select in order to properly operate the device. A number of USB modems need to have the proper configuration value written to this file in order to have the correct USB driver bind to the device.
Sysfs does not expose all of the different parts of a USB device, as it stops at the interface level. Any alternate configurations that the device may contain are not shown, as well as the details of the endpoints associated with the interfaces. This information can be found in the usbfs filesystem, which is mounted in the /proc/bus/usb/ directory on the system. The file /proc/bus/usb/devices does show all of the same information exposed in sysfs, as well as the alternate configuration and endpoint information for all USB devices that are present in the system. usbfs also allows user-space programs to directly talk to USB devices, which has enabled a lot of kernel drivers to be moved out to user space, where it is easier to maintain and debug. The USB scanner driver is a good example of this, as it is no longer present in the kernel because its functionality is now contained in the user-space SANE library programs.
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