Before starting, you should think about whether you really need to compile the PCMCIA package yourself. All common Linux distributions come with pre-compiled PCMCIA driver packages. Generally, you only need to install the drivers from scratch if you need a new feature of the current drivers, or if you've updated and/or reconfigured your kernel in a way that is incompatible with the drivers included with your Linux distribution. While compiling the PCMCIA package is not technically difficult, it does require some general Linux familiarity.
The following things should be installed on your system before you start installing PCMCIA:
The current driver package actually works with most kernel versions back to 1.2.8. However, use with older kernels is deprecated, and backwards compatibility with very old kernels may go away at any time.
You need to have a complete linux source tree for your kernel, not just an up-to-date kernel image, to compile the PCMCIA package. The PCMCIA modules contain some references to kernel source files. While you may want to build a new kernel to remove unnecessary drivers, installing PCMCIA does not require you to do so.
Current ``stable'' kernel sources and patches are available from
ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/kernel/v2.0, or from
Development kernels can be found in the corresponding
subdirectories. Current module utilities can be found in the same
In the Linux source tree for 2.0 and 2.1 kernels, the
Documentation/Changes file describes the versions of all
sorts of other system components that are required for that kernel
release. You may want to check through this and verify that your
system is up to date, especially if you have updated your kernel.
If you are using a 2.1 kernel, be sure that you are using the
right combination of shared libraries and module tools.
When configuring your kernel, if you plan on using a PCMCIA ethernet card, you should turn on networking support but turn off the normal Linux network card drivers, including the ``pocket and portable adapters''. The PCMCIA network card drivers are all implemented as loadable modules. Any drivers compiled into your kernel will only waste space.
If you want to use SLIP, PPP, or PLIP, you do need to either configure your kernel with these enabled, or use the loadable module versions of these drivers. There is an unfortunate deficiency in the kernel config process in 1.2.X kernels, in that it is not possible to set configuration options (like SLIP compression) for a loadable module, so it is probably better to just link SLIP into the kernel if you need it.
In order to use a PCMCIA token ring adapter, your kernel should be
configured with ``Token Ring driver support'' (
enabled, though you should leave
If you want to use a PCMCIA IDE adapter, your kernel should be
CONFIG_BLK_DEV_IDE_PCMCIA enabled, for 1.3.72
through 2.1.7 kernels. Older kernels do not support removeable IDE
devices; newer kernels do not require a special configuration
If you will be using a PCMCIA SCSI adapter, you should enable
CONFIG_SCSI when configuring your kernel. Also, enable any top
level drivers (SCSI disk, tape, cdrom, generic) that you expect to
use. All low-level drivers for particular host adapters should be
disabled, as they will just take up space.
If you want to modularize a driver that is needed for a PCMCIA device,
you must modify
/etc/pcmcia/config to specify what modules
need to be loaded for what card types. For example, if the serial
driver is modularized, then the serial device definition should be:
device "serial_cs" class "serial" module "misc/serial", "serial_cs"
This package includes an X-based card status utility called
cardinfo. This utility is based on a freely distributed user
interface toolkit called the XForms Library. This library is
available as a separate package with most Linux distributions. If you
would like to build
cardinfo, you should install XForms and all
the normal X header files and libraries before configuring the PCMCIA
Here is a synopsis of the installation process:
make config'' in the new
make all'', then ``
/etc/pcmciafor your site.
If you plan to install any contributed client drivers not included in the core PCMCIA distribution, unpack each of them in the top-level directory of the PCMCIA source tree. Then follow the normal build instructions. The extra drivers will be compiled and installed automatically.
make config'' prompts for a few configuration options,
and checks out your system to verify that it satisfies all
prerequisites for installing PCMCIA support. In most cases, you'll be
able to just accept all the default configuration options. Be sure to
carefully check the output of this command in case there are problems.
If you are compiling the PCMCIA package for installation on another
machine, specify an alternate target directory when prompted by the
configure script. This should be an absolute path. All the PCMCIA
tools will be installed relative to this directory. You will then be
tar this directory tree and copy to your target machine,
and unpack relative to its root directory to install everything in the
If you are cross compiling on another machine, you may want to specify alternate names for the compiler and linker. This may also be helpful on mixed a.out and ELF systems. The script will also prompt for additional compiler flags for debugging.
Some of the support utilities (
cardinfo) can be
compiled either in ``safe'' or ``trusting'' forms. The ``safe'' forms
prevent non-root users from modifying card configurations. The
``trusting'' forms permit ordinary users to issue commands to suspend
and resume cards, reset cards, and change the current configuration
scheme. The configuration script will ask if you want the utilities
compiled as safe or trusting: the default is to be safe.
There are a few kernel configuration options that affect the PCMCIA tools. The configuration script can deduce these from the running kernel (the most common case). Alternatively, if you are compiling for installation on another machine, it can read the configuration from a kernel source tree, or each option can be set interactively.
make all'' followed by ``
make install'' will build
and then install the kernel modules and utility programs. Kernel
modules are installed under
cardctl programs are installed in
cardinfo is built, it is installed in
Configuration files will be installed in the
directory. If you are installing over an older version, your old
config scripts will be backed up before being replaced. The saved
scripts will be given extensions like
*.~2~, and so
If you don't know what kind of PCMCIA controller chip you have, you
can use the
probe utility in the
cardmgr/ subdirectory to
determine this. There are two major types: the Databook TCIC-2 type
and the Intel i82365SL-compatible type.
In a few cases, the
probe command will be unable to determine
your controller type automatically. If you have a Halikan NBD 486
system, it has a TCIC-2
controller at an unusual location: you'll need to edit
to load the
tcic module, and also set the
parameter to ``
On some systems using Cirrus controllers, including the NEC Versa M,
the BIOS puts the controller in a special suspended state at system
startup time. On these systems, the
probe command will fail to
find any known PCMCIA controller. If this happens, edit
rc.pcmcia and set
Some Linux distributions, including Slackware, use a BSD arrangement
for system startup scripts. If
/etc/rc.d/rc.M exists, your
system is in this group.
rc.pcmcia, installed in
starting up and shutting down the PCMCIA system.
make install'' will use the
probe command to determine
your controller type and modify
rc.pcmcia appropriately. You
should add a line to your system startup file
to invoke the PCMCIA startup script, like:
It does not really matter where you insert this line, as long as the
PCMCIA drivers are started after
Red Hat, Caldera, and Debian Linux have a System V-ish arrangement
for system startup files. If you have a directory called
/etc/rc.d/init.d, then your system is
in this group. The
rc.pcmcia script will be installed as
appropriate. There is no need to edit any of the startup scripts to
enable PCMCIA: it will happen automatically.
/etc/sysconfig directory exists, then a separate
be created for startup options. If you need to change any module
options (like the
PCIC_OPTS= settings), edit this config
file rather than the actual PCMCIA startup script. This file will not
be overwritten by subsequent installs.
Some previous releases used the
directory in place of
/etc/pcmcia on these platforms. The
current release instead uses
/etc/pcmcia for all systems, and
will move an existing
Some PCMCIA controllers have optional features that may or may not be implemented in a particular system. In some cases, it is impossible for the socket driver to detect if these features are implemented. Check the man page for your socket driver to see what optional features may be present for your controller.
The low level socket drivers,
i82365, have numerous
bus timing parameters that may need to be adjusted for systems with
particularly fast processors. Symptoms of timing problems include
card recognition problems, lock-ups under heavy loads, high error
rates, or poor device performance. Check the corresponding man pages
for more details, but here is a brief summary:
cmd_timeflag, which determines the length of PCMCIA bus cycles. Fast 486 systems (i.e., DX4-100) seem to often benefit from increasing this from 6 (the default) to 12 or 16.
fast_pciflag, which should be set if the PCI bus speed is greater than 25 MHz.
async_clockflag changes the relative clocking of PCMCIA bus and host bus cycles. Setting this flag adds extra wait states to some operations. However, I have yet to hear of a laptop that needs this.
pcmcia_coremodule has the
cis_speedparameter for changing the memory speed used for accessing a card's Card Information Structure (CIS). On some systems with fast bus clocks, increasing this parameter (i.e., slowing down card accesses) may be beneficial for card recognition problems.
i82365module should be loaded with the
extra_socketsparameter set to 1. This should not be necessary for PCI-to-PCMCIA or PCI-to-CardBus bridges
All these options should be configured by modifying the top of
/etc/rc.d/rc.pcmcia. For example:
# Should be either i82365 or tcic PCIC=i82365 # Put socket driver timing parameters here PCIC_OPTS="cmd_time=12" # Put pcmcia_core options here CORE_OPTS="cis_speed=500"
Here are some timing settings for specific systems:
Card Services should automatically avoid allocating IO ports and
interrupts already in use by other standard devices. It will also
attempt to detect conflicts with unknown devices, but this is not
completely reliable. In some cases, you may need to explicitly
exclude resources for a device in
Here are some resource settings for specific laptop types.