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Entry  28 Dec 2005, Konstantin Olchanski, Suggestion, Handling multiple identical USB devices 
    Reply  03 Jan 2006, Stefan Ritt, Suggestion, Handling multiple identical USB devices 
Message ID: 244     Entry time: 28 Dec 2005     Reply to this: 247
Author: Konstantin Olchanski 
Topic: Suggestion 
Subject: Handling multiple identical USB devices 
When I wrote the musbstd.h "open" method, I kind of punted on the problem of
handling multiple identical USB devices. Instead of a real solution, I added an
"instance" parameter, which allows one to "open" the "first", "second", etc USB
device, as listed in a magic random system dependant order.

Normally, USB devices are identified by two 16-bit integers: manufacturer ID and
product ID (i.e. as reported by "lsusb"). This works well until one has more
than one "identical" device. Two years ago, I had 5 identical USB cameras
(optical alignement system for TRIUMF-TWIST); last year, I had multiple USB
serial adapters; today I have two identical USB-TPC interfaces.

Most of the time, the devices are plugged into the same USB ports, so
theoretically, one should be able to tell exactly which one is which ("upstream
camera is plugged into port 1, downstream camera is plugged into port 2"). But
in the magic system dependant enumeration order, they keep moving around,
depending on the order of enumeration, history of powering up and down, phase of
the Moon, etc.

So my generic "musbstd" method of "open first", "open second", etc turned out to
be completely disfunctional.

So far, I am unable to come up with a system independant solution. But I have a
solution for Linux and maybe for MacOSX:

1) on Linux, I can use the information parsed from /proc/bus/usb/devices to say
"please open the USB device on USB bus 1, port 1", the so called USB device
"path", as seen in the system log and in /sys/bus/usb/devices.

2) on MacOSX, I was unable to find a way to discover the USB topology, but they
seem to maintain an uint32_t "location", which they promise to keep at least
across reboots (did not check this yet).

3) Windows I did not look at yet.

So we have a choice:

a) use system dependant "musb_open_linux(usbpath,vendor,product)",
"musb_open_macosx(???,vendor,product)", etc

b) create order out of chaos by manually keeping a map of "instances" (first,
second, third device) to "persistant addresses". On Linux, it would be a file
containing something like this: "USB-TPC-0 is on bus1-port1, USB-TPC-1 is on
bus1-port2". Then again, I can say "please open USB-TPC interface instance 0" or
"instance 1", etc. There is a small difficulty with dealing with devices
temporarily or permanantly going away, or changing physical addresses ("I moved
the USB device from port 1 to port 3"). This could be handled by telling the
user "hmm... USB topology has changed, please delete the map file and try
again", or we could come up with something more user friendly.

Any thoughts?

P.S. For my immediate need (I need this tomorrow), I will write a
musb_open_linux(usbpath,vendor,product) function.

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