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UHID - User-space I/O driver support for HID subsystem
The HID subsystem needs two kinds of drivers. In this document we call them:
1. The "HID I/O Driver" is the driver that performs raw data I/O to the
low-level device. Internally, they register an hid_ll_driver structure with
the HID core. They perform device setup, read raw data from the device and
push it into the HID subsystem and they provide a callback so the HID
subsystem can send data to the device.
2. The "HID Device Driver" is the driver that parses HID reports and reacts on
them. There are generic drivers like "generic-usb" and "generic-bluetooth"
which adhere to the HID specification and provide the standardizes features.
But there may be special drivers and quirks for each non-standard device out
there. Internally, they use the hid_driver structure.
Historically, the USB stack was the first subsystem to provide an HID I/O
Driver. However, other standards like Bluetooth have adopted the HID specs and
may provide HID I/O Drivers, too. The UHID driver allows to implement HID I/O
Drivers in user-space and feed the data into the kernel HID-subsystem.
This allows user-space to operate on the same level as USB-HID, Bluetooth-HID
and similar. It does not provide a way to write HID Device Drivers, though. Use
hidraw for this purpose.
There is an example user-space application in ./samples/uhid/uhid-example.c
UHID is accessed through a character misc-device. The minor-number is allocated
dynamically so you need to rely on udev (or similar) to create the device node.
This is /dev/uhid by default.
If a new device is detected by your HID I/O Driver and you want to register this
device with the HID subsystem, then you need to open /dev/uhid once for each
device you want to register. All further communication is done by read()'ing or
write()'ing "struct uhid_event" objects. Non-blocking operations are supported
by setting O_NONBLOCK.
struct uhid_event {
__u32 type;
union {
struct uhid_create_req create;
struct uhid_data_req data;
} u;
The "type" field contains the ID of the event. Depending on the ID different
payloads are sent. You must not split a single event across multiple read()'s or
multiple write()'s. A single event must always be sent as a whole. Furthermore,
only a single event can be sent per read() or write(). Pending data is ignored.
If you want to handle multiple events in a single syscall, then use vectored
I/O with readv()/writev().
The first thing you should do is sending an UHID_CREATE event. This will
register the device. UHID will respond with an UHID_START event. You can now
start sending data to and reading data from UHID. However, unless UHID sends the
UHID_OPEN event, the internally attached HID Device Driver has no user attached.
That is, you might put your device asleep unless you receive the UHID_OPEN
event. If you receive the UHID_OPEN event, you should start I/O. If the last
user closes the HID device, you will receive an UHID_CLOSE event. This may be
followed by an UHID_OPEN event again and so on. There is no need to perform
reference-counting in user-space. That is, you will never receive multiple
UHID_OPEN events without an UHID_CLOSE event. The HID subsystem performs
ref-counting for you.
You may decide to ignore UHID_OPEN/UHID_CLOSE, though. I/O is allowed even
though the device may have no users.
If you want to send data to the HID subsystem, you send an HID_INPUT event with
your raw data payload. If the kernel wants to send data to the device, you will
read an UHID_OUTPUT or UHID_OUTPUT_EV event.
If your device disconnects, you should send an UHID_DESTROY event. This will
unregister the device. You can now send UHID_CREATE again to register a new
If you close() the fd, the device is automatically unregistered and destroyed
write() allows you to modify the state of the device and feed input data into
the kernel. The following types are supported: UHID_CREATE, UHID_DESTROY and
UHID_INPUT. The kernel will parse the event immediately and if the event ID is
not supported, it will return -EOPNOTSUPP. If the payload is invalid, then
-EINVAL is returned, otherwise, the amount of data that was read is returned and
the request was handled successfully.
This creates the internal HID device. No I/O is possible until you send this
event to the kernel. The payload is of type struct uhid_create_req and
contains information about your device. You can start I/O now.
This destroys the internal HID device. No further I/O will be accepted. There
may still be pending messages that you can receive with read() but no further
UHID_INPUT events can be sent to the kernel.
You can create a new device by sending UHID_CREATE again. There is no need to
reopen the character device.
You must send UHID_CREATE before sending input to the kernel! This event
contains a data-payload. This is the raw data that you read from your device.
The kernel will parse the HID reports and react on it.
If you receive a UHID_FEATURE request you must answer with this request. You
must copy the "id" field from the request into the answer. Set the "err" field
to 0 if no error occurred or to EIO if an I/O error occurred.
If "err" is 0 then you should fill the buffer of the answer with the results
of the feature request and set "size" correspondingly.
read() will return a queued ouput report. These output reports can be of type
reaction is required to any of them but you should handle them according to your
needs. Only UHID_OUTPUT and UHID_OUTPUT_EV have payloads.
This is sent when the HID device is started. Consider this as an answer to
UHID_CREATE. This is always the first event that is sent.
This is sent when the HID device is stopped. Consider this as an answer to
If the kernel HID device driver closes the device manually (that is, you
didn't send UHID_DESTROY) then you should consider this device closed and send
an UHID_DESTROY event. You may want to reregister your device, though. This is
always the last message that is sent to you unless you reopen the device with
This is sent when the HID device is opened. That is, the data that the HID
device provides is read by some other process. You may ignore this event but
it is useful for power-management. As long as you haven't received this event
there is actually no other process that reads your data so there is no need to
send UHID_INPUT events to the kernel.
This is sent when there are no more processes which read the HID data. It is
the counterpart of UHID_OPEN and you may as well ignore this event.
This is sent if the HID device driver wants to send raw data to the I/O
device. You should read the payload and forward it to the device. The payload
is of type "struct uhid_data_req".
This may be received even though you haven't received UHID_OPEN, yet.
Same as UHID_OUTPUT but this contains a "struct input_event" as payload. This
is called for force-feedback, LED or similar events which are received through
an input device by the HID subsystem. You should convert this into raw reports
and send them to your device similar to events of type UHID_OUTPUT.
This event is sent if the kernel driver wants to perform a feature request as
described in the HID specs. The report-type and report-number are available in
the payload.
The kernel serializes feature requests so there will never be two in parallel.
However, if you fail to respond with a UHID_FEATURE_ANSWER in a time-span of 5
seconds, then the requests will be dropped and a new one might be sent.
Therefore, the payload also contains an "id" field that identifies every
Document by:
David Herrmann <>