Chapter 25. USB Device Mode / USB OTG

Table of Contents
25.1. Synopsis
25.2. USB Virtual Serial Ports
25.3. USB Device Mode Network Interfaces
25.4. USB Virtual Storage Device

25.1. Synopsis

Written by Edward Tomasz Napierala.

This chapter covers the use of USB Device Mode and USB On The Go (USB OTG) in FreeBSD. This includes virtual serial consoles, virtual network interfaces, and virtual USB drives.

When running on hardware that supports USB device mode or USB OTG, like that built into many embedded boards, the FreeBSD USB stack can run in device mode. Device mode makes it possible for the computer to present itself as different kinds of USB device classes, including serial ports, network adapters, and mass storage, or a combination thereof. A USB host like a laptop or desktop computer is able to access them just like physical USB devices. Device mode is sometimes called the USB gadget mode.

There are two basic ways the hardware can provide the device mode functionality: with a separate "client port", which only supports the device mode, and with a USB OTG port, which can provide both device and host mode. For USB OTG ports, the USB stack switches between host-side and device-side automatically, depending on what is connected to the port. Connecting a USB device like a memory stick to the port causes FreeBSD to switch to host mode. Connecting a USB host like a computer causes FreeBSD to switch to device mode. Single purpose "client ports" always work in device mode.

What FreeBSD presents to the USB host depends on the hw.usb.template sysctl. Some templates provide a single device, such as a serial terminal; others provide multiple ones, which can all be used at the same time. An example is the template 10, which provides a mass storage device, a serial console, and a network interface. See usb_template(4) for the list of available values.

Note that in some cases, depending on the hardware and the hosts operating system, for the host to notice the configuration change, it must be either physically disconnected and reconnected, or forced to rescan the USB bus in a system-specific way. When FreeBSD is running on the host, usbconfig(8) reset can be used. This also must be done after loading usb_template.ko if the USB host was already connected to the USB OTG socket.

After reading this chapter, you will know:

  • How to set up USB Device Mode functionality on FreeBSD.

  • How to configure the virtual serial port on FreeBSD.

  • How to connect to the virtual serial port from various operating systems.

  • How to configure FreeBSD to provide a virtual USB network interface.

  • How to configure FreeBSD to provide a virtual USB storage device.

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