udev is the device manager for the Linux kernel. Primarily, it manages device nodes in /dev and handles all user space actions when adding/removing devices. Also have a look at eudev a Gentoo fork of udev.
- 1 What is udev?
- 2 Installation
- 3 Configuration
- 4 Advanced Configuration
- 5 Usage
- 6 Troubleshooting
What is udev?
The /dev directory
When Linux-users talk about the hardware on their system in the vicinity of people who believe Linux is some sort of virus or brand of coffee, the use of "slash dev slash foo" will return a strange look for sure. But for the fortunate user (and that includes you) using /dev/sda1 is just a fast way of explaining that we are talking about the primary master SATA, first partition. Or aren't we?
We all know what a device file is. Some even know why device files have special numbers when we take a closer look at them when we issue
ls -l in /dev . But what we always take for granted is that the primary SATA disk is referred to as /dev/sda . You might not see it this way, but this is a flaw by design.
Think about hotpluggable devices like USB, IEEE1394, hot-swappable PCI, ... What is the first device? And for how long? What will the other devices be named when the first one disappears? How will that affect ongoing transactions? Wouldn't it be fun that a printing job is suddenly moved from your supernew laserprinter to your almost-dead matrix printer because your mom decided to pull the plug of the laserprinter which happened to be the first printer?
Enter udev . The goals of the udev project are both interesting and needed:
- Runs in userspace
- Dynamically creates/removes device files
- Provides consistent naming
- Provides a user-space API
Every time a change happens within the device structure, the kernel emits a uevent which gets picked up by udev. udev then follows the rules as declared in the /etc/udev/rules.d , /run/udev/rules.d and /lib/udev/rules.d directories. Based on the information contained within the uevent, it finds the rule or rules it needs to trigger and performs the required actions. These actions can be creating or deleting device files, but can also trigger the loading of particular firmware files into the kernel memory.
You need to activate the following kernel options:
The USE flags of udev are:
|acl||Yes||Adds support for Access Control Lists|
|doc||No||Adds extra documentation (API, Javadoc, etc). It is recommended to enable per package instead of globally|
|firmware-loader||Yes||Enable userspace firmware loader (DEPRECATED, replaced by in-kernel loader in 3.8+)|
|gudev||Yes||Build the gobject interface library|
|hwdb||Yes||Read vendor/device string database and add it to udev database|
|introspection||Yes||Adds support for GObject based introspection|
|keymap||Yes||Map custom hardware's multimedia keys|
|openrc||Yes||Install the OpenRC init scripts|
|selinux||No||No||!!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur|
|static-libs||No||No||Build static libraries|
After setting this you want to update your system so the changes take effect:
To start udev at boot time, add it your sysinit runlevel:
udev provides a set of rules that match against exported values of uevents (events send by the kernel) and properties of the discovered device. A matching rule will possibly name and create a device node and run configured programs to set-up and configure the device.
The rule definitions are stored in /lib/udev/rules.d (installed by packages) and /etc/udev/rules.d (for end-user specified rules). In these directories, multiple rule files (with suffix .rules) are traversed in alphanumerical order. Inside the rules files, udev will find expressions that might match a uevent together with the state to match (is the uevent because a device is added or removed) and the command to execute.
The event matching is based on information such as:
- the SUBSYSTEM of the uevent (for which type of device is the uevent fired)
- the ACTION that is taken (add, change or remove)
- one or more attributes (through ATTR or ATTRS), such as the device class, vendor or other device information
- the kernel-provided name (through KERNEL), such as sd* (for SCSI/SATA disks) or input* (for input devices such as mice and keyboards)
- one or more environment settings (through ENV), used to send information between multiple rules
Based on this information, the rule can then state if
- some information needs to be shared with later events (through environment variables)
- links need to be created in /dev
- commands need to be executed
Udev does this for every rule that matches (so it does not stop after the first match) to allow a flexible device management approach.
Persistent device names
The kernel detects devices asynchronous, udev mirrors the kernel's sysfs filesystem and so the device are named and numbered in order of detection. So by default udev provides no persistent device names. However there are mechanismen for some device classes to provide these:
- udev creates for storage devices additional symlinks based on the device's id, label, uuid and path. See the /dev/disk/by-* directory. So instead of using e.g. the device file /dev/sda use the file /dev/disk/by-label/SOME_LABEL.
- The same for input devices in the /dev/input directory.
- Using custom rules you can create your own device files.
Some useful commands are:
- Show all messages about a given device file:
- Monitor udev activities:
See the udevadm man page for more information.
Log monitor messages
Log all message you see, when you run udevadm monitor:
It will create the new log file /run/udev/udevmonitor.log.
Enable debug mode to get more log messages:
It will create the new log file /run/udev/udev.log.
Missing device files /dev/null and /dev/console
Some udev versions need these files and can't create them on their own. So you have to create them:
NIC assigned eth0, but is moved to eth1
Those having dual network cards on their motherboards may run into a situation where ifconfig may show no eth0 or eth1. Dmesg may show their NIC detected as eth0, and later moved to eth1. Performing a "ifconfig -a" will also show the NIC as eth1. This is caused by using the kernel assigned names in the first place. You should write your own rules like /etc/udev/rules.d/70-my-network.rules to use free names like lan0 or wireless0 or use the predictable interface names which are enabled by the default since version 197. Remember to also remove old files from old versions of udev: