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ThinkPad IrDA configuration

IrDA can be used to communicate using Infrared to other IrDA compliant devices, such as other Notebooks, PDA's and mobile phones.

All IBM ThinkPads manufactured in the last years have integrated IrDA that can be used on one of two modes, SIR or FIR. Some very old ThinkPads only support SIR mode, or might not have IrDA support at all.

The purpose of this document is to get the IrDA hardware in your ThinkPad operational, setting up communication to other devices is not covered. However, the external links section can prove useful for this.

Serial IR (SIR)

SIR is limited to serial datarates up to 115.2Kb/s


Fast IR (FIR)

FIR is the prefered mode and operates at 4Mb/s

Main problem here is that the chips FIR mode needs to be activated. On A, G, R, T and X model ThinkPads the easiest way to achieve this, is by entering the BIOS setup during BOOT by pressing F1 when prompted. Then select 'Config' followed by 'Infrared'. Here you will need to Enable Infrared. Be sure to save the changes, and then Exit.

Under Linux edit /etc/modprobe.conf (or /etc/modules.conf for a 2.4 kernel) and add the following three lines

      alias irda0 nsc-ircc
      options nsc-ircc dongle_id=0x09 io=0x2f8 irq=3
      pre-install nsc-ircc setserial /dev/ttyS1 uart none port 0 irq 0

Note: Changing these BIOS settings does not effect Windows 2000 or XP, but might cause resource problems under older windows versions, or other legacy Operating Systems.

If changing BIOS settings in not an option, or the settings cannot be altered such as on most old ThinkPad 300, 500, 600 and 700 models, the FIR mode can be activated from the running Linux OS with one of the following:

  • setpnp as part of the old pcmcia-utils source package
  • tpctl, but only for some old ThinkPads

External links

Linux-IrDA Project (External)

Linux PCMCIA Project (External)

tpctl homepage (External)