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* @file ebbchar.c
* @author Derek Molloy
* @date 7 April 2015
* @version 0.1
* @brief An introductory character driver to support the second article of my series on
* Linux loadable kernel module (LKM) development. This module maps to /dev/ebbchar and
* comes with a helper C program that can be run in Linux user space to communicate with
* this the LKM.
* @see for a full description and follow-up descriptions.
#include <linux/init.h> // Macros used to mark up functions e.g. __init __exit
#include <linux/module.h> // Core header for loading LKMs into the kernel
#include <linux/device.h> // Header to support the kernel Driver Model
#include <linux/kernel.h> // Contains types, macros, functions for the kernel
#include <linux/fs.h> // Header for the Linux file system support
#include <linux/uaccess.h> // Required for the copy to user function
#define DEVICE_NAME "ebbchar" ///< The device will appear at /dev/ebbchar using this value
#define CLASS_NAME "ebb" ///< The device class -- this is a character device driver
MODULE_LICENSE("GPL"); ///< The license type -- this affects available functionality
MODULE_AUTHOR("Derek Molloy"); ///< The author -- visible when you use modinfo
MODULE_DESCRIPTION("A simple Linux char driver for the BBB"); ///< The description -- see modinfo
MODULE_VERSION("0.1"); ///< A version number to inform users
static int majorNumber; ///< Stores the device number -- determined automatically
static char message[256] = {0}; ///< Memory for the string that is passed from userspace
static short size_of_message; ///< Used to remember the size of the string stored
static int numberOpens = 0; ///< Counts the number of times the device is opened
static struct class* ebbcharClass = NULL; ///< The device-driver class struct pointer
static struct device* ebbcharDevice = NULL; ///< The device-driver device struct pointer
// The prototype functions for the character driver -- must come before the struct definition
static int dev_open(struct inode *, struct file *);
static int dev_release(struct inode *, struct file *);
static ssize_t dev_read(struct file *, char *, size_t, loff_t *);
static ssize_t dev_write(struct file *, const char *, size_t, loff_t *);
/** @brief Devices are represented as file structure in the kernel. The file_operations structure from
* /linux/fs.h lists the callback functions that you wish to associated with your file operations
* using a C99 syntax structure. char devices usually implement open, read, write and release calls
static struct file_operations fops =
.open = dev_open,
.read = dev_read,
.write = dev_write,
.release = dev_release,
/** @brief The LKM initialization function
* The static keyword restricts the visibility of the function to within this C file. The __init
* macro means that for a built-in driver (not a LKM) the function is only used at initialization
* time and that it can be discarded and its memory freed up after that point.
* @return returns 0 if successful
static int __init ebbchar_init(void){
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Initializing the EBBChar LKM\n");
// Try to dynamically allocate a major number for the device -- more difficult but worth it
majorNumber = register_chrdev(0, DEVICE_NAME, &fops);
if (majorNumber<0){
printk(KERN_ALERT "EBBChar failed to register a major number\n");
return majorNumber;
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: registered correctly with major number %d\n", majorNumber);
// Register the device class
ebbcharClass = class_create(THIS_MODULE, CLASS_NAME);
if (IS_ERR(ebbcharClass)){ // Check for error and clean up if there is
unregister_chrdev(majorNumber, DEVICE_NAME);
printk(KERN_ALERT "Failed to register device class\n");
return PTR_ERR(ebbcharClass); // Correct way to return an error on a pointer
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: device class registered correctly\n");
// Register the device driver
ebbcharDevice = device_create(ebbcharClass, NULL, MKDEV(majorNumber, 0), NULL, DEVICE_NAME);
if (IS_ERR(ebbcharDevice)){ // Clean up if there is an error
class_destroy(ebbcharClass); // Repeated code but the alternative is goto statements
unregister_chrdev(majorNumber, DEVICE_NAME);
printk(KERN_ALERT "Failed to create the device\n");
return PTR_ERR(ebbcharDevice);
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: device class created correctly\n"); // Made it! device was initialized
return 0;
/** @brief The LKM cleanup function
* Similar to the initialization function, it is static. The __exit macro notifies that if this
* code is used for a built-in driver (not a LKM) that this function is not required.
static void __exit ebbchar_exit(void){
device_destroy(ebbcharClass, MKDEV(majorNumber, 0)); // remove the device
class_unregister(ebbcharClass); // unregister the device class
class_destroy(ebbcharClass); // remove the device class
unregister_chrdev(majorNumber, DEVICE_NAME); // unregister the major number
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Goodbye from the LKM!\n");
/** @brief The device open function that is called each time the device is opened
* This will only increment the numberOpens counter in this case.
* @param inodep A pointer to an inode object (defined in linux/fs.h)
* @param filep A pointer to a file object (defined in linux/fs.h)
static int dev_open(struct inode *inodep, struct file *filep){
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Device has been opened %d time(s)\n", numberOpens);
return 0;
/** @brief This function is called whenever device is being read from user space i.e. data is
* being sent from the device to the user. In this case is uses the copy_to_user() function to
* send the buffer string to the user and captures any errors.
* @param filep A pointer to a file object (defined in linux/fs.h)
* @param buffer The pointer to the buffer to which this function writes the data
* @param len The length of the b
* @param offset The offset if required
static ssize_t dev_read(struct file *filep, char *buffer, size_t len, loff_t *offset){
int error_count = 0;
// copy_to_user has the format ( * to, *from, size) and returns 0 on success
error_count = copy_to_user(buffer, message, size_of_message);
if (error_count==0){ // if true then have success
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Sent %d characters to the user\n", size_of_message);
return (size_of_message=0); // clear the position to the start and return 0
else {
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Failed to send %d characters to the user\n", error_count);
return -EFAULT; // Failed -- return a bad address message (i.e. -14)
/** @brief This function is called whenever the device is being written to from user space i.e.
* data is sent to the device from the user. The data is copied to the message[] array in this
* LKM using the sprintf() function along with the length of the string.
* @param filep A pointer to a file object
* @param buffer The buffer to that contains the string to write to the device
* @param len The length of the array of data that is being passed in the const char buffer
* @param offset The offset if required
static ssize_t dev_write(struct file *filep, const char *buffer, size_t len, loff_t *offset){
sprintf(message, "%s(%zu letters)", buffer, len); // appending received string with its length
size_of_message = strlen(message); // store the length of the stored message
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Received %zu characters from the user\n", len);
return len;
/** @brief The device release function that is called whenever the device is closed/released by
* the userspace program
* @param inodep A pointer to an inode object (defined in linux/fs.h)
* @param filep A pointer to a file object (defined in linux/fs.h)
static int dev_release(struct inode *inodep, struct file *filep){
printk(KERN_INFO "EBBChar: Device successfully closed\n");
return 0;
/** @brief A module must use the module_init() module_exit() macros from linux/init.h, which
* identify the initialization function at insertion time and the cleanup function (as
* listed above)