How to fix usbview and /proc/bus/usb in Ubuntu Hardy (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sat, 31 May 2008

How to fix usbview and /proc/bus/usb in Ubuntu Hardy

Ah, I so love progress. I was working with powertop to try to make my system more efficient, and kept seeing a USB device I didn't recognize showing up as a frequent source of wakeups. lsusb didn't show it either, so I tried firing up usbview.

Except it didn't work: on Hardy it brings up an error window complaining about not being able to open /proc/bus/usb, which, indeed, is not mounted despite being enabled in my kernel.

A little googling showed this was an oft-reported bug in Ubuntu Hardy: for instance, bug 156085 and bug 151585, both with the charming attitude I so love in open source projects, "No, we won't enable this simple fix that reverts the software to the way it worked in the last release; we'd prefer to keep it completely broken indefinitely until someone happens to get around to fixing it right."

Okay, that's being a little harsh: admittedly, most of the programs broken by this are in the "universe" repository and thus not an official part of Ubuntu. Still, why be rude to users who are just trying to find a way around bustage that was deliberately introduced? Doesn't Ubuntu have any sort of process to assign bugs in universe packages to a maintainer who might care about them?

Anyway, the workaround, in case you need usbview or qemu/kvm or anything else that needs /proc/bus/usb, is to edit the file /etc/init.d/mountdevsubfs.sh and look for the line that says:

# Magic to make /proc/bus/usb work
Uncomment out the lines immediately following that line, then either reboot or run the last command there by hand.

(In case you're wondering, usbview showed that the USB device causing the powertop wakeups was the multi-flash card reader. I'm suspecting hald-addons-storage is involved -- powertop already flagged hal's cdrom polling as the number-one power waster. I don't know why the flash multicard reader shows up in usbview but not in lsusb.)

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[ 20:45 May 31, 2008    More linux | permalink to this entry ]