Driver for "intelligent" Digiboard PC/xe's??

Driver for "intelligent" Digiboard PC/xe's??

Post by Kevin Port » Thu, 20 May 1993 05:42:14


I am aware that it is possible to use several types of 'dumb multi-port'
serial-boards with Linux, including the "AST" and "BOCA" boards which
utilize multiple UART chips on a shared IRQ... however:

Since my system was originally configured with OS/2 v2.x using a
Digiboard PC/4e 'intelligent' multi-port serial card, I would like to
find a way to use this card with Linux as well.   Boards of this type have
a significant advantage in that they handle the 'interrupt per character'
load themselves and thus 'offload' the 386/486 CPU, while allowing for large
numbers of serial ports without running into 'IRQ shortage' configuration
problems - the Digiboard "PC/Xe" cards are available in models with 4, 8, 16,
or even 32 ports - with NO IRQ requirement at all!

Digiboard supplies drivers for use with other species of Unix, however as
of my last contact with them, had not heard of Linux.   However, their tech
support line DID indicate that they could supply the necessary device-driver
programming information under a non-disclosure agreement, (for a price, they
were asking $200.00 for the kit.)

This has me thinking, there might be others who might have either already
interfaced such a board to Linux, or who would LIKE TO.   In other words,
this is another instance similar to the "MOTIF" situation - the software
components necessary are undeniably commercial in nature, yet there is a
potential market of Linux users who would like to interface these components
with their "non-commercial" O.S.   The commercial vendor is either unaware
of the potential market, or believes that it isn't worth their time.

Following the example given by "Metro-Link" with their "MOTIF" package, it
*might* be worth someone's time to negotiate with Digiboard and either convince
Digiboard to market a Linux driver themselves, or negotiate the rights to
produce a "Linux version" of the driver and market it independently, (which,
like the "MOTIF" package mentioned earlier, would probably need to be
distributed in "Binary object form only" since Digiboard seems reluctant to
release programming information without nondisclosure protection.)  Obviously,
it would be best if Digiboard themselves could be convinced - however to do so
requires that they be provided with some indication of the market's size.

SO, I am posing these questions to the Linux user's community...
(Please note: I have NO connection whatsoever with Digiboard other than as
a satisfied (under OS/2) user of their product, who would like to use the
same product with Linux):

(1) Does anyone have any experience in interfacing Digiboard PC/Xe type
board(s) to Linux, (or any other "UNIX-like" O.S.), already?  If so please
EMAIL contact information - I would like to learn from your experiences, or
in any case, avoid "re-inventing the wheel".

(2) How many people are interested in availability of such an 'intelligent'
multi-port board for Linux?   How many of you would purchase Digiboard PC/Xe
boards for use with Linux if driver software were available?  

This kind of information would be very useful in convincing Digiboard to
consider Linux as a possible market segement.  Please EMAIL your responses,
C.O.L. is already too cluttered as is - I will summarize my results via EMAIL
to anyone who responds.

Thankx for your time,

Kevin R. Porter

Note: My opinions and this inquiry are my own and not related to my employer.


1. DigiBoard PC/Xe, PC/Xi Driver!

Fellow Linuxers,

Regarding the Linux DigiBoard Intelligent Serial Board Driver for the
PC/Xe and PC/Xi line of products (no, this does not include the PC/Xem.
That's a different product line), I have revamped the driver so that
it acts just like the normal serial driver.  I originally wrote the
driver so that the ttyD* devices were modem control devices and the
ttyd* devices were the non-modem control devices.  However, due to
confusion by users and a few other problems posed by inconsistencies
between my driver and the regular serial driver, I decided to change
it.  This should basically make it much easier to use.  Now, the
ttyd1 device will act like ttyS0, and ttyD1 will act like cua0,
except that ttyd1 and ttyD1 will be accessing an intelligent device
with fairly large receive and transmit buffers.  :-)

I have bumped the version number up to 1.4 on the driver (pcxe.c is
the only file that has changed for now, although the README-type stuff
will have to change later).  If any of you already have the DigiBoard
driver and want to slap the pcxe.c file over top of your current one
to test the newest version, let me know, and I'll email it to you.  I'll
be working on testing it this week--with anyone who would like to test
it--and will be fixing any reported bugs.  I have already tested
dialin and dialout, and everything seems to work fine, but I would
be grateful for any volunteers willing to test PPP or SLIP.  :-)



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