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LIRC stands for Linux Infrared Remote Control. It allows you to receive and send infrared signals. With LIRC and an IR receiver you can control your computer with almost any infrared remote control (e.g. a TV remote control). You may for instance control DVD or music playback with your remote control.

Kernel Configuration

Linux Kernel Configuration: Kernel 2.6
Loadable module support  --->
   [*]   Module unloading
Linux Kernel Configuration: Kernel 2.6
Device Drivers --->
   Input device support --->
      [*] Event interface
Warning: When you are using devfs or sysfs with your kernel, the /dev/lirc device node will disappear again once you reboot your machine. In that case the LIRC kernel module will generate the required entry every time it is loaded. But the device node won't be visible as /dev/lirc, but might be located in a different location like e.g. /dev/lirc/0. Please be aware of this fact when starting programs that access the device node like mode2 or lircd. You will have to use the --device command line option of these programs to point them to the correct location. When using sysfs together with the udev daemon you should copy the lirc.rules file located in the contrib directory of the source package to /etc/udev/rules.d/. This will make sure that the device node will be created.


You need to set an environmental variable prior compiling lirc in order to install the appropriate drivers for your tv capture card. That means you'll need to determine which of the following drivers is suitable for your card. See emerge -pv lirc for a list of all supported devices. Unfortunately, it is not necessarily straightforward which driver to use in all cases, as neither the LIRC project website nor the installed documentation seem to provide this information. In most cases, however, the product name should be one of the drivers. You should decide what type of receiver you are using. If not, only support for the homebrew serial receiver will be compiled.

Homebrew receiver drivers:

That's a lot of options. For those of you with a homebrew serial receiver, your option will be "serial". If you received a remote with your video card or TV tuner, you will need to choose the most appropriate driver from the list above. You can get some idea of whether your hardware is supported or not by checking the sidebar of the official LIRC website. For using the tvcard integrated controllers like hauppauge, don't forget to compile your kernel with i2c support!

Once you have selected your driver, you need to set the LIRC_DEVICES environmental variable, or simply edit /etc/make.conf as follows:

File: /etc/make.conf
LIRC_DEVICES="serial sir"

If your device is supported by the kernel, (uses /dev/input/eventX) you will need to use the dev/input driver instead. This works particually well for the Hauppage NOVA-T.

File: /etc/make.conf

Now you are ready to (re-)compile LIRC: emerge -av lirc

It is useful to set the global USE flag lirc so that all applications are built with LIRC-support. Then recompile all applications whose USE flags have changed.

Older versions of LIRC apply their sources to the kernel sources. By default configuration, it is not possible for an ebuild to overwrite kernel source files. In case that you are using such an ebuild, you can fix the issue with the following command: config-kernel --allow-writable=yes

Depending on your mix of kernel and LIRC versions, you can run into incompatibility issues. Especially the warning "Unknown symbol class_simple_device_add" indicates that you might have to switch versions. Try to get a more recent LIRC ebuild by doing echo "app-misc/lirc ~x86" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords. If that doesn't help, you probably have to use a different kernel version.


LIRC needs to know how to interpret the output from your remote. Codes from the remote are mapped to buttons in /etc/lircd.conf. There are two means of obtaining an lircd.conf file suited to your remote. For many (probably most) remotes you can simply copy the configuration file from the LIRC project website. However, if a prepared lircd.conf file is not available from the lirc site, you will need to use the irrecord utility that is installed with lirc to capture the signals generated by your remote for each button.


Before starting LIRC, it is important load the necessary kernel modules.

If you had to build a kernel module, activate it now, using modprobe lirc_driver. (Make sure to substitute "driver" for an appropriate value).

You may need to use an appropriate kernel module for your hardware to work properly. If so, you will have to add "lirc_driver" to your /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.x file so the module can load during boot. Substitute "driver" in "lirc_driver" to the actual driver you are using, which was defined in the LIRC_DEVICES variable in your make.conf above. To enable serial support for instance, you would add "lirc_serial".

modprobe lirc_gpio lirc_dev tuner evdev

Unless you use coldplug, in order to have the modules load with every reboot, you will need to edit the appropriate

File: /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6

Testing the receiver

Now start up LIRC and add it to the default runlevel so it starts on the system's start.

/etc/init.d/lircd start
rc-update add lircd default

After starting lircd, verify that you have a new device node: /dev/lirc0 and ls -l /dev/lirc*. Check that the LIRC device has been created at /dev/lircd. Test that you are actually receiving data from your remote by running cat /dev/lirc0 and then pressing buttons on the remote. You should see data being received by the device each time you push a button. Alternatively, you can run irw, an LIRC utility that essentially accomplishes the same thing. If everything is correct irw will connect to the lircd device and echo the keys you've pressed. Press all buttons to check whether all events are triggered properly.

Please make sure that /etc/conf.d/lircd has the correct device as above otherwise you may experience "Connect: Connection refused" errors when trying to access the lirc device. For example:

 LIRCD_OPTS="-d /dev/lirc0" rather than
 LIRCD_OPTS="-d /dev/lirc/0"

You need to have a config file for your remote control that tells lirc how to interpret the IR codes transmitted by your remote. If the key codes were already correct, you can move on with the next section. The easiest way to configure the IR codes is to use an existing config file, try finding your remote in this listing. If your remote isn't listed you can try using irrecord to create the file. Or, if you are using a universal remote you can just program it to control for example a Sony TV set and then try any of the files listed under Sony. When you have found a config file save it to /etc/lircd.conf.

Configuring irexec

irexec is the program that is used by tvtime, xmms, mplayer and other applications to execute commands in response to data captured from the remote. Before it can do that, however, you will need to create ~/.lircrc and fill it with application specific commands for each button on the remote. Now setup your ~/.lircrc file and you should be able to use lirc with every applications that supports it! If so, congratulations! Your receiver is working, and you can now start adding support for you remote control. The file follows this format:

File: ~/.lircrc
  prog = ...
  remote = ...
  button = ...
  repeat = ...
  delay = ...
  config = ...
  mode = ...
  flags = ...

There is sufficient document concerning the specifics of this file at the LIRC project site.

Some developers have gone through the trouble for you and put together the necessary information for their applications. For example, the tvtime website has a ~/.lircrc file available.

Now start irexec and watch for any errors. If it generates an error "connection error: Could not connect to the socket" this generally means that one of the lirc drivers (lirc_dev lirc_gpio or lircd_modulename) isn't loaded properly, or that you permission problems with the lirc device node. First ensure that /etc/init.d/lircd is loaded without errors. Note that this service tends to not stop well, and may need to be zapped then started again. Then ensure that /dev/lirc0 exists and is receiving data as explained above.

Once you have irexec working, you will want to have it start up with each log in. Be sure to use the command irexec --daemon to have irexec fork into the background.


If you are using the serial driver and run into problems on module load, sys-apps/setserial will probably help you. Install the program if you don't have it already and run setserial /dev/ttySX uart none to enable the serial port.

If you needed setserial to load the module you will probably need to add it to your startup scripts. First, configure setserial by editing /etc/serial.conf, add /dev/ttyS0 uart none

Note: Depending on where you connected your receiver, you might need to specify /dev/ttyS1. If you don't use any other serial devices, you can create two entries and lirc-enable both ttyS0 and ttyS1.

After that, run rc-update add serial boot.

FIXME: Move these instructions to instructions below, merge with hardware specific drivers and Troubleshooting

Update: You can simply edit /etc/modprobe.d/lirc and add the following line to lirc-enable the port(s) before loading the lirc_serial module:

pre-install lirc_serial setserial /dev/ttyS0 uart none

You can also set options for the lirc_serial module there like this:

options lirc_serial irq=4 io=0x3f8 type=0 sense=1

You do, of course still need to emerge setserial for this to work. Afterwards run update-modules.

Using Multiple Devices Simultaneously

The only hardware to natively support multiple blasters on Linux is the CommandIR Mini multi-transceiver. Many other LIRC devices will have both an IR blaster and receiver unified into one - but LIRC may not support this feature (ala lirc_mceusb2). The solution is to get a simple serial IR blaster but this can be difficult to set up via LIRC.

In order to accomplish this, you must make sure that you have compiled support for both devices. Currently the LIRC_DEVICES environment variable only supports doing one device - to work around this change make LIRC_DEVICES="all" in /etc/make.conf. After this, make sure you add both lirc_* modules into /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.x. Additionally, make sure you are used the "transmitter" USE flag when you emerged lirc.

The second step is to run two concurrent processes of LIRC for both devices and have them interact with each other. This can be tricky so I've taken the liberty of posting my own /etc/init.d/lircd:

File: /etc/init.d/lircd
start() {
	ebegin "Starting lircd"
	start-stop-daemon --start --pidfile /var/run/ --quiet --exec /usr/sbin/lircd -- --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc/1 --output=/dev/lircd1 --pidfile=/var/run/ --listen
	start-stop-daemon --start --pidfile /var/run/ --quiet --exec /usr/sbin/lircd -- --driver=default --device=/dev/lirc/0 --output=/dev/lircd --pidfile=/var/run/ --connect=localhost:8765
	eend $?

stop() {
	ebegin "Stopping lircd"
	start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --pidfile /var/run/ --exec /usr/sbin/lircd -- --pidfile=/var/run/
	start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --pidfile /var/run/ --exec /usr/sbin/lircd -- --pidfile=/var/run/
	eend $?

Essentially what this does is it creates two instances of lircd, one running at /dev/lircd/0 and the other at /dev/lircd/1. Edit the --device=/dev/lirc* line to suit whatever devices you have in your system in whatever order. Since my transmitter is /dev/lirc/1 and my reciever is /dev/lirc/0, /dev/lircd corresponds to my reciever and /dev/lircd1 corresponds to transmitter. This is optimal as some applications may have problems dealing with a non /dev/lircd LIRC device.

Run "/etc/init.d/lircd start" and both instances should start. Test them out, one by going "irw" and the other with irsend -d /dev/lircd1.

Hardware specific instructions

CommandIR Mini - USB Multi-Transceiver

CommandIR can control up to 4 devices independently using emitters and contains a built-in universal receiver to integrate all inbound and outbound IR control into a single Linux-native device. Installation instructions for Gentoo can be found in the manufacturers support site.

ALSA audio

First read about the hardware and the LIRC driver for ALSA. Now you have to tell LIRC what audio device to capture. In order to do it you simply edit the /etc/conf.d/lircd file. Virtually everyone wants to have:

File: /etc/conf.d/lircd
# Options to pass to the lircd process
LIRCD_OPTS="-d hw:0,0"

Note: For the lirc_mceusb2 module you need to have the /etc/conf.d/lircd file this this order! Note 2: -> also notice that i am using /dev/lirc/0 NOT /dev/lirc0 -> the latter did not work for me but the former did.

File: /etc/conf.d/lircd
LIRCD_OPTS="-d hw:0,0"
LIRCD_OPTS="-d /dev/lirc/0"

Homebrew Serial Transmitter (serial)

Serial transmitter is smooth sailing, the only tricky thing to know is that kernel support for the serial port will conflict the driver. The way to fix this is to emerge the setserial utility, and then add "setserial /dev/ttyS0 uart none" (ttyS0 is COM1, ttyS1 is COM2, etc.) to /etc/conf.d/local.start. You will then have to add "modprobe lirc_serial" into /etc/conf.d/local.start afterwards because the script is executed after modules.autoload.d.

Alternatively you may try to add "/dev/ttyS0 uart none" to /etc/serial.conf (after emerging setserial) and run serial at boot "rc-update add serial boot". And have lirc_serial module loaded by adding it to /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6 (don't forget to run update-modules afterwards).

If you are using receiver wired in "Igor" way, i.e. like this one: [1] - made for "Grider" with "Igor" plugin, make sure to add type=4 option while loading lirc_serial kernel module. The whole module loading command may then look like this:

modprobe lirc_serial irq=3 io=0x2f8 type=4

Alternatively you can emerge lirc with serial_igor_cesko module, then putting type=4 in modprobe call is unnecessary.

Enabling software support

Start by adding the lirc USE flag to make.conf. You can then re-emerge your installed packages with remote control support. This will work with:

and others.


For multiple remotes you can always concattenate them to one big lircd.conf file. cat remote1_definition.conf remote2_defintion.conf > /etc/lircd.conf

lircrc configurations for programs including MythTV, Xine, Mplayer, VLC and more can be configured for any remote control and any hardware online at


Module doesn't load

If the kernel modules does not load, there could be a few reasons. If the serial driver in the kernel is being loaded before the LIRC driver, LIRC will fail and complain that the port is already in use.

Code: dmesg output
lirc_dev: IR Remote Control driver registered, at major 61
lirc_serial: port 03f8 already in use
lirc_serial: use 'setserial /dev/ttySX uart none'
lirc_serial: or compile the serial port driver as module and
lirc_serial: make sure this module is loaded first

If this happens you have a couple of options.

Prevent the kernel module from configuring the port

The ideal solution is to run echo "/dev/ttySX uart none" >> /etc/serial.conf. This will append the statement "/dev/ttySX uart none" into /etc/serial.conf. After that you have to enable serial init-script via rc-update add serial default. /etc/init.d/serial will disable the uart for the specified ttySX. Now modprobe lirc_serial should work fine during bootup!

Use setserial to de-configure the port

You can follow the instructions and run the setserial /dev/ttySX uart none command, making sure you have already run emerge setserial. You may need to set this up to run at boot so that it can always take effect.

Use modules configuration to load the LIRC module first

If the above does not work as it didn't for me, you could configure the module loading by the following: - Modify /etc/modprobe.d/lirc and uncomment the lines that match your serial port, this will enable the lirc_serial module to be loaded before the kernel modules if built or disable the serial port. No init-script for serial is then required.

Load serial support as a kernel module

Still another option is to compile serial support for your kernel as a module, and the Gentoo boot scripts will take care of things for you during boot, but not necessarilly once the system is already up and running. The following may be useful if the /etc/serial.conf update for preventing the kernel from configuring the port doesn't solve the problem.

Tell the serial module that the lirc_driver module (replace lirc_driver with your particular driver, e.g. lirc_sir) is a dependency so that the lirc_driver module captures the I/O port first. Once the lirc_driver is loaded and attached to the port, the regular serial driver takes whatever is left over.

For example, my serial ports use the 8250 module, so the following works: echo "add below 8250 lirc_sir >> /etc/modprobe.d/lirc; update-mdoules. Now when I modprobe 8250, the lirc_sir module and all dependencies are loaded first, then everything necessary for the remaining serial ports to function.

Disable serial support in the kernel

Another other option is to disable serial port support in the kernel altogether, as the LIRC driver will take care of things for you. Obviously this will be an impractical solution if you have any other serial devices, but if you don't have any, this will also work.

Device /dev/lirc/0 isn't being created

If lirc seems to compile, and modprobeing the lirc_<driver> works without errors but you aren't seeing a /dev/lirc/0 being created it is likely because udev is unable to complete the creation of the device. If running:

udevtest /classes/lirc/lirc0

returns an error about udev being unable to read/write from the db becuase there is no such file or directory, re-emerging udev may fix the problem:

emerge --sync
emerge udev

After the emerge, udev should re-start and /dev/lirc/0 should now show up.

LIRC won't compile

The following flags may become important if LIRC does not work straight as described in the basic configuration.

If any of these options apply to you, you will have to add them with the appropriate values to your LIRC_OPTS variable in /etc/make.conf

Emerge gives you access violations

There is a bug in gcc that causes problems with sandbox. if the emerge returns you an error of access violation for /usr/src/linuex-..../null.gcda Try emerging with the following command: FEATURES="-sandbox" emerge lirc


As of the date of this edit (November 11, 2005) there is a minor problem with the default gentoo install of lirc. Emerging lirc will install a set of udev rules to /etc/udev/rules.d/10-lirc.rules that create the device node /dev/lirc/0. However the file /etc/conf.d/lircd starts the lirc daemon with an option that is not compatible with that udev rule. Accordingly, you may need to edit that files as follows:

File: /etc/conf.d/lirc
# Options to pass to the lircd process
#LIRCD_OPTS="-d /dev/lirc0"
LIRCD_OPTS="-d /dev/lirc/0"
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