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Access USB devices from Ruby via libusb-1.x

tag: 0.1.2

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# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

Access USB devices from Ruby via libusb-1.0.


LIBUSB is a Ruby binding that gives a Ruby programmer access to all functionality of libusb, version 1.0.

  • libusb is a library that gives full access to devices connected via the USB bus. No special kernel driver is thus necessary for accessing USB devices.

  • This Ruby binding supports the API version 1.0 of libusb. Note that the old “legacy” version 0.1.x of libusb uses a completely different API that is covered by the ruby extension ruby-usb . LIBUSB has a compatibility API to ruby-usb.

LIBUSB for Ruby is covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3.


  • Access to descriptors of devices, configurations, interfaces, settings and endpoints

  • Synchronous and asynchronous communication for bulk, control, interrupt and isochronous transfers

  • Compatibility layer for ruby-usb (API based on libusb-0.1). See {::USB} for description.


require "libusb"

usb =
device = usb.devices(:idVendor => 0x04b4, :idProduct => 0x8613).first do |handle|
  handle.claim_interface(0) do
    handle.control_transfer(:bmRequestType => 0x40, :bRequest => 0xa0, :wValue => 0xe600, :wIndex => 0x0000, :dataOut => 1.chr)

{LIBUSB::Context#devices} is used to get all or only particular devices. After opening the {LIBUSB::Device} the resulting {LIBUSB::DevHandle} can be used to communicate with the connected USB device by {LIBUSB::DevHandle#control_transfer}, {LIBUSB::DevHandle#bulk_transfer}, {LIBUSB::DevHandle#interrupt_transfer} or by using the {LIBUSB::Transfer} classes.

A {LIBUSB::Device} can also be used to retrieve information about it, by using the device descriptor attributes. A {LIBUSB::Device} could have several configurations. You can then decide of which configuration to enable. You can only enable one configuration at a time.

Each {LIBUSB::Configuration} has one or more interfaces. This can be seen as functional group performing a single feature of the device.

Each {LIBUSB::Interface} has at least one {LIBUSB::Setting}. The first setting is always default. An alternate setting can be used independent on each interface.

Each {LIBUSB::Setting} specifies it's own set of communication endpoints. Each {LIBUSB::Endpoint} specifies the type of transfer, direction, polling interval and maximum packet size.


  • libusb version 1.0 or greater (bundled with Windows binary gem)

  • FFI-gem

  • Linux, MacOSX or Windows system with Ruby MRI 1.8.7/1.9.x or JRuby


gem install libusb

In order to use LIBUSB, you need the libusb-1.0 library (but not its header files).

  • On Debian and Ubuntu system, install the libusb-1.0-0 package.

  • The gem for Windows comes with a precompiled libusb.dll, so there is no need for a compiler.

Latest code can be used in this way:

git clone git://
rake install_gem

Usage on Windows

In contrast to Linux, any access to an USB device by LIBUSB on Windows requires a proper driver installed in the system. Fortunately creating such a driver is quite easy with Zadig. Select the interesting USB device and press “Install Driver”. That's it. You may take the generated output directory with it's INI-file and use it for driver installation on other 32 or 64 bit Windows systems.

Cross compiling for Windows

Libusb-gem can be build on a linux or darwin host for the win32 platform, using the mingw cross compiler collection. Libusb is downloaded from source git repo, cross compiled and included in the generated libusb.gem.

Install mingw32. On a debian based system this should work:

apt-get install mingw32

On MacOS X, if you have MacPorts installed:

port install i386-mingw32-gcc

Download and cross compile libusb for win32:

rake cross gem

If everything works, there should be libusb-VERSION-x86-mingw32.gem in the pkg directory.


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