Thomas Tempelmann Thomas Tempelmann - 5 months ago 54
Linux Question

How to find all serial devices (ttyS, ttyUSB, ..) on Linux without opening them?

What is the proper way to get a list of all available serial ports/devices on a Linux system?

In other words, when I iterate over all devices in

/dev/
, how do I tell which ones are serial ports in the classic way, that is, those usually supporting baud rates and RTS/CTS flow control?

The solution would be coded in C.

I ask because I am using a third-party library that does this clearly wrong: It appears to only iterate over
/dev/ttyS*
. The problem is that there are, for instance, serial ports over USB (provided by USB-RS232 adapters), and those are listed under /dev/ttyUSB*. And reading the Serial-HOWTO at Linux.org, I get the idea that there'll be other name spaces as well, as time comes.

So I need to find the official way to detect serial devices. The problem is that none appears to be documented, or I can't find it.

I imagine one way would be to open all files from
/dev/tty*
and call a specific
ioctl()
on them that is only available on serial devices. Would that be a good solution, though?

Update



hrickards suggested to look at the source for "setserial".
Its code does exactly what I had in mind:

First, it opens a device with:

fd = open (path, O_RDWR | O_NONBLOCK)


Then it invokes:

ioctl (fd, TIOCGSERIAL, &serinfo)


If that call returns no error, then it's a serial device, apparently.

I found similar code in Serial Programming/termios, which suggested to also add the
O_NOCTTY
option.

There is one problem with this approach, though:

When I tested this code on BSD Unix (that is, Mac OS X), it worked as well. However*, serial devices that are provided through Bluetooth cause the system (driver) to try to connect to the Bluetooth device, which takes a while before it'll return with a timeout error. This is caused by just opening the device. And I can imagine that similar things can happen on Linux as well - ideally, I should not need to open the device to figure out its type. I wonder if there's also a way to invoke
ioctl
functions without an open, or open a device in a way that it does not cause connections to be made?

What should I do?

Answer

The /sys filesystem should contain plenty information for your quest. My system (2.6.32-40-generic #87-Ubuntu) suggests:

/sys/class/tty

Which gives you descriptions of all TTY devices known to the system. A trimmed down example:

# ll /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 20:43 /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0 -> ../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1/2-1.4/2-1.4:1.0/ttyUSB0/tty/ttyUSB0/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 20:44 /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB1 -> ../../devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1d.0/usb2/2-1/2-1.3/2-1.3:1.0/ttyUSB1/tty/ttyUSB1/

Following one of these links:

# ll /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0/
insgesamt 0
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root    0 2012-03-28 20:43 ./
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root    0 2012-03-28 20:43 ../
-r--r--r-- 1 root root 4096 2012-03-28 20:49 dev
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 2012-03-28 20:43 device -> ../../../ttyUSB0/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root    0 2012-03-28 20:49 power/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root    0 2012-03-28 20:43 subsystem -> ../../../../../../../../../../class/tty/
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 4096 2012-03-28 20:43 uevent

Here the dev file contains this information:

# cat /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0/dev
188:0

This is the major/minor node. These can be searched in the /dev directory to get user-friendly names:

# ll -R /dev |grep "188, *0"
crw-rw----   1 root dialout 188,   0 2012-03-28 20:44 ttyUSB0

The /sys/class/tty dir contains all TTY devices but you might want to exclude those pesky virtual terminals and pseudo terminals. I suggest you examine only those which have a device/driver entry:

# ll /sys/class/tty/*/device/driver
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 19:07 /sys/class/tty/ttyS0/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/serial/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 19:07 /sys/class/tty/ttyS1/device/driver -> ../../../bus/pnp/drivers/serial/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 19:07 /sys/class/tty/ttyS2/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/serial8250/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 19:07 /sys/class/tty/ttyS3/device/driver -> ../../../bus/platform/drivers/serial8250/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 20:43 /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB0/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../../bus/usb-serial/drivers/ftdi_sio/
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 2012-03-28 21:15 /sys/class/tty/ttyUSB1/device/driver -> ../../../../../../../../bus/usb-serial/drivers/ftdi_sio/