Infrared Port

Better red, than dead.

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Linux Compatibility Check

To get the IrDA® port of your laptop working with Linux/IrDA® you may use StandardInfraRed (SIR) or FastInfraRed (FIR).


Up to 115.200bps, the infrared port emulates a serial port like the 16550A UART. This will be detected by the kernel serial driver at boot time, or when you load the serial module. If infrared support is enabled in the BIOS, for most laptops you will get a kernel message like:

Serial driver version 4.25 with no serial options enabled
ttyS00 at 0x03f8 (irq = 4) is a 16550A     #first serial port /dev/ttyS0
ttyS01 at 0x3000 (irq = 10) is a 16550A    #e.g. infrared port
ttyS02 at 0x0300 (irq = 3) is a 16550A     #e.g. PCMCIA modem port


If you want to use up to 4Mbps, your machine has to be equipped with a certain FIR chip. You need a certain Linux/IrDA® driver to support this chip. Therefore you need exact information about the FIR chip. You may get this information in one of the following ways:

  1. Read the specification of the machine, though it is very rare that you will find enough and reliable information to use with Linux there.

  2. Try to find out whether the FIR chip is a PCI device. Do a cat /proc/pci . The appropriate files for 2.2.x kernels are in /proc/bus/pci . Though often the PCI information is incomplete. You may find the latest information about PCI devices and vendor numbers in the kernel documentation usually in /usr/src/linux/Documentation or at the page of Craig Hart . From kernel 2.1.82 on, you may use lspci from the pci-utils package, too.

  3. Use the DOS tool CTPCI330.EXE provided in ZIP format by the German computer magazine CT. The information provided by this program is sometimes better than that provided by the Linux tools.

  4. Try to get information about Plug-and-Play (PnP) devices. Though I didn't use them for this purpose yet, the isapnp tools, could be useful.

  5. If you have installed the Linux/IrDA® software load the FIR modules and watch the output of dmesg, whether FIR is detected or not.

  6. Another way how to figure it out explained by Thomas Davis (modified by WH): "Dig through the FTP site of the vendor, find the Windows9x FIR drivers, and they have (for a SMC chip):

    -rw-rw-r--   1 ratbert  ratbert       743 Apr  3  1997 smcirlap.inf 
    -rw-rw-r--   1 ratbert  ratbert     17021 Mar 24  1997 smcirlap.vxd 
    -rw-rw-r--   1 ratbert  ratbert      1903 Jul 18  1997 smcser.inf 
    -rw-rw-r--   1 ratbert  ratbert     31350 Jun  7  1997 smcser.vxd 

    If in doubt, always look for the .inf/.vxd drivers for Windows95. Windows95 doesn't ship with _ANY_ FIR drivers. (they are all third party, mostly from Counterpoint, who was assimilated by ESI)."

  7. Also Thomas Davis found a package of small DOS utilities made by SMC. The package contains FINDCHIP.EXE. And includes a FIRSETUP.EXE utility that is supposed to be able to set all values except the chip address. Furthermore it contains BIOSDUMP.EXE, which produces this output:

    Example 1 (from a COMPAQ Armada 1592DT)

    In current devNode:
               Size      = 78
               Handle    = 14
               ID        = 0x1105D041 = 'PNP0511' -- Generic IrDA SIR
    Types:  Base = 0x07, Sub = 0x00,  Interface = 0x02
    Comm. Device, RS-232, 16550-compatible
    Attribute = 0x80
                    CAN be disabled
                    CAN be configured
    BOTH Static & Dynamic configuration
    Allocated Resource Descriptor Block TAG's:
    TAG=0x47, Length=7 I/O Tag, 16-bit Decode
    Min=0x03E8, Max=0x03E8
    Align=0x00, Range=0x08
    TAG=0x22, Length=2 IRQ Tag, Mask=0x0010
    TAG=0x79, Length=1 END Tag, Data=0x2F

    Result 1:

    Irq Tag, Mask (bit mapped - ) = 0x0010 = 0000 0000 0000 0001 0000 so, it's IRQ 4. (start at 0, count up ..), so this is a SIR only device, at IRQ=4, IO=x03e8.

    Example 2 (from an unknown machine)

    In current devNode:
              Size      = 529
              Handle    = 14
              ID        = 0x10F0A34D = 'SMCF010' -- SMC IrCC
    Types:  Base = 0x07, Sub = 0x00,  Interface = 0x02
    Comm. Device, RS-232, 16550-compatible
    Attribute = 0x80
                   CAN be disabled
                   CAN be configured
    BOTH Static & Dynamic configuration 
    Allocated Resource Descriptor Block TAG's:
    TAG=0x47, Length=7 I/O Tag, 16-bit Decode
    Min=0x02F8, Max=0x02F8
    Align=0x00, Range=0x08
    TAG=0x22, Length=2 IRQ Tag, Mask=0x0008
    TAG=0x47, Length=7 I/O Tag, 16-bit Decode
    Min=0x02E8, Max=0x02E8
    Align=0x00, Range=0x08
    TAG=0x2A, Length=2 DMA Tag, Mask=0x02, Info=0x08
    TAG=0x79, Length=1 END Tag, Data=0x00

    Result 2:

    a) it's a SMC IrCC chip

    b) one portion is at 0x02f8, has an io-extent of 8 bytes; irq = 3

    c) another portion is at 0x02e8, io-extent of 8 bytes; dma = 1 (0x02 =0000 0010)


    The package is not intended for the end user, and some of the utilities could be harmful. The only documentation in the package is in Microsoft Word format. Linux users may read this with catdoc.

  8. Use the Device Manager of the MicroSoft Windows9x/NT operating system.

  9. You may also use the hardware surveys mentioned below.

  10. And as a last resort, you may even open the laptop and look at the writings at the chipsets themselfs.

Hardware Survey

I have made an IrDA hardware survey at TuxMobil . This list also contains information about infrared capable devices which are not mentioned here (mice, printers, remote control, transceivers, etc.).

To make this list more valuable, it is necessary to collect more information about the infrared devices in different hardware. You can help by sending me a short e-mail containing the exact name of the hardware you have and which type of infrared controller is used.

Please let me know also how well Linux/IrDA® worked (at which tty, port and interrupt it works and the corresponding infrared device, e.g. printer, cellular phone).

Also you can help by contributing detailed technological information about some infrared devices, which is necessary for the development of drivers for Linux.

Related Documentation

IrDA® Configuration - Survey


The Linux infrared support is still experimental, but rapidly improving. I try to describe the installation in a short survey. Please read my Linux-Infrared-HOWTO for detailed information. And visit the Linux/IrDA Project.


  1. Get a 2.4.x kernel and the latest Linux/IrDA patches from the Linux/IrDA Project.

  2. Compile it with all IrDA® options enabled.

  3. Also enable experimental, sysctl, serial and network support.


  1. Get the Linux IrDA® software irda-utils at The Linux IrDA Project .

  2. Untar the package.

  3. Do a make depend; make all; make install


  1. Enable the IrDA® support in the BIOS.

  2. Check for SIR or FIR support, as described above.

  3. Start the Linux/IrDA® service with irattach DEVICE -s 1 .

  4. Watch the kernel output with dmesg .

Linux Infrared Remote Control - LIRC

Linux Infrared Remote Control LIRC is a package that supports receiving and sending IR signals of the most common IR remote controls. It contains a device driver for hardware connected to the serial port, a daemon that decodes and sends IR signals using this device driver, a mouse daemon that translates IR signals to mouse movements and a couple of user programs that allow to control your computer with a remote control. I don't have valid information about how much infrared remote control is working with laptop infrared devices.