Revisiting Old APIs

Some of the kernel APIs we covered in their 2.5 form have changed a little before being nailed down for 2.6. Here's the updated information on the 2.6 versions.
Fewer ioctls

Along with the tty structure changes, a few tty ioctls have been removed, specifically the TIOCMGET, TIOCMBIS, TIOCMBIC and TIOCMSET ioctls. They have been replaced with two new function callbacks, tiocmget and tiocmset, that have been added to the struct tty_operations structure. These functions are defined as:

int (*tiocmget)(struct tty_struct *tty,
                struct file *file);
int (*tiocmset)(struct tty_struct *tty,
                struct file *file,
                unsigned int set,
                unsigned int clear);

The tiocmget function is called when the tty core or a user wants to know what the current line settings are for a specific tty port. This works almost exactly like the old TIOCMGET ioctl call did. The line status is defined as the different MSR_* values, but instead of being copied back into user space, as the old ioctl required the driver to do, they merely are returned from the function call. Here's an example of how a tiocmget function could look:

tiny_tiocmget(struct tty_struct *tty,
              struct file *file)
    struct tiny_private *tp = tty->private;
    unsigned int msr = tp->msr;
    unsigned int mcr = tp->mcr;
    unsigned int result = 0;

    result = ((mcr & MCR_DTR)    ? TIOCM_DTR: 0)
                                    /* DTR is set */
              | ((mcr & MCR_RTS) ? TIOCM_RTS: 0)
                                    /* RTS is set */
              | ((msr & MSR_CTS) ? TIOCM_CTS: 0)
                                    /* CTS is set */
              | ((msr & MSR_CD)  ? TIOCM_CAR: 0)
                         /* Carrier detect is set */
              | ((msr & MSR_RI)  ? TIOCM_RI:  0)
                         /* Ring Indicator is set */
              | ((msr & MSR_DSR) ? TIOCM_DSR: 0);
                                    /* DSR is set */

    return result;

The tiocmset function is called when the tty core or a user wants to set or clear any of the different line settings. This single function replaces the TIOCMBIS, TIOCMBIC and TIOCMSET ioctl calls. The set and clear variables in this function are used to tell which line settings to set and which to clear. The same line setting cannot be asked to be cleared and set at the same time, so the order in which variables are processed does not matter. An example of the tiocmset function is:

tiny_tiocmset(struct tty_struct *tty,
              struct file *file,
              unsigned int set, unsigned int clear)
    struct tiny_private *tp = tty->private;

    if (set & TIOCM_RTS)
        mcr |= MCR_RTS;
    if (set & TIOCM_DTR)
        mcr |= MCR_RTS;
    if (set & TIOCM_LOOP)
        mcr |= MCR_LOOPBACK;

    if (clear & TIOCM_RTS)
        mcr &= ~MCR_RTS;
    if (clear & TIOCM_DTR)
        mcr &= ~MCR_RTS;
    if (clear & TIOCM_LOOP)
        mcr &= ~MCR_LOOPBACK;

    /* set the new MCR value in the device */
    tp->mcr = mcr;
    return 0;

The usbserial core also has been affected a bit by these tty core changes. The tiocmget and tiocmset functions have been added to the struct usb_serial_device_type structure. The tty calls to these functions are passed down to the lower usbserial drivers, if the usbserial driver provides those callbacks.


I would like to thank Al Viro, Christoph Hellwig and Russell King for finally starting to work on cleaning up the tty layer to raise it to the proper standards of the rest of the kernel. Their changes have been instrumental in simplifying the tty driver interface, allowing driver authors to focus on the specific hardware implementations and not worry about the kernel interactions as much as before.

Greg Kroah-Hartman currently is the Linux kernel maintainer for a variety of different driver subsystems. He works for IBM, doing Linux kernel-related things, and can be reached at


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