Shallow Thoughts

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sat, 18 Apr 2009

Update on writing udev rules for flash card readers

Long ago I wrote about getting my multi-flash card reader to work using udev rules.

This always evokes horrified exclaimations from people in the Ubuntu project -- "You shouldn't need to do that!" But there are several reasons for wanting special udev rules for multi-card readers. You might want your SD card to show up in the same place every time (is it /dev/sdb1 or /dev/sdc1 today?); or you might be trying to reduce polling to cut down your CPU and battery use.

But my older article referred to a script that no longer exists, and as I recently had to update my udev rules on a fairly fresh Intrepid install, I needed something more up-to-date and less dependent on Ubuntu's specific udev scripts (which change frequently).

I found a wonderful forum article, Create your own udev rules to control removable devices, that explains exactly how to find out the names of your devices and make rules for them. Another excellent article with essentially the same information is Linux Format's Connect your devices with udev.

Start by guessing at the current device name: for example, in this particular session, my SD card reader showed up on /dev/sdd. Find out the corresponding /block device name for it, like this:

udevinfo -q path -n /dev/sdd
Update: In Ubuntu jaunty, udevinfo is gone. But you can substitute udevadm info for udevinfo, with the same flags.

In my case, the SD reader was /block/sdd. Now pass that into udevinfo -a, like so:

udevinfo -a -p /block/sdd
and look for a few items that you can use to identify that slot uniquely. If you can find a make or model, that's ideal.

For my card reader, I chose

 KERNEL=="sdd"
 SUBSYSTEMS=="scsi"
 ATTRS{model}=="CardReader SD   "

Note that SUBSYSTEM was scsi: usb-storage devices (handled by the scsi system) sometimes show up as usb and sometimes as scsi.

Now you're ready to create some udev rules. In your favorite text editor, create a new file named /etc/udev/rules.d/59-multicard-reader.rules. You can name it whatever you want, but make sure the number at the beginning is lower than the number of the udev rule that would otherwise create the device's name -- in this case, 60-persistent-storage.rules.

Now write your udev rule. Include the identifying lines you picked out from udevinfo -a:

KERNEL=="sd[a-g]", SUBSYSTEMS=="scsi", ATTRS{vendor}=="USB2.0  ", ATTRS{model}=="CardReader SD   ", NAME{all_partitions}="card-sd", group=plugdev

A few things to notice. First, I used KERNEL=="sd[a-g]" instead of just sdd, in case the devices might some day show up in a different order.

The NAME field can be whatever you choose. NAME{all_partitions}="card-sd" will make the device show up as /dev/card-sd, so to mount the first partition I'll use /dev/card-sd1. The {all_partitions} part tells the kernel to create partitions like /dev/card-sd1 even if there's no SD card inserted in the slot when you boot. Otherwise, you have to run touch /dev/card-sd after inserting a card to get the device created -- or run a daemon like hald-addons-storage that polls the device a few times every second checking to see if anything has been inserted (as Ubuntu normally prefers to do).

GROUP="plugdev" ensures the devices will be owned by the group named "plugdev". This isn't particularly important since you'll probably be mounting the cards using /etc/fstab lines or some sort of automount daemon.

Pause and reflect sadly on the confusing coincidence of "scsi disk" and "secure digital" both having the same abbreviation, so that you need context to tell what each of these "sd"s means.

Test your new udev line by restarting udev:

/etc/init.d/udev restart
and see if your new device is there in /dev. If it is, you're all set! Now you can add the rest of the devices from your multicard reader: go back to the udevinfo steps and find out what each device is called, then add a line for each of them.

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[ 15:45 Apr 18, 2009    More linux | permalink to this entry ]