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Revision as of 07:54, 22 October 2015 by Alad (talk | contribs) (Configuration: looks like we need an "Optional" section anyway)
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This article covers setup and usage of LIRC "Linux Infrared Remote Control" with serial or USB infrared devices.

LIRC is a daemon that can translate key presses on a supported remote into program specific commands. In this context, the term, "program specific" means that a key press can do different things depending on which program is running and taking commands from LIRC.

The Centeral Dogma of LIRC (an allusion to the flow of information in biological systems) is summarized below wherein the flow of information from the remote to the application is summarized with LIRC at the center of it all:

  • User hits a button on the remote causing it to transmit an IR or RF signal.
  • The signal is received by the receiver connected to the Linux box.
  • The kernel (via the correct module) use presents pulse data from the remote on a device like /dev/lirc0, /dev/input/eventX, /dev/ttyUSBX or /dev/ttyS0.
  • /usr/bin/lircd uses the information from /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/foo.conf to convert the pulse data into button press information.
  • Programs that use LIRC translate the button press info from /usr/bin/lircd into user-defined actions according to ~/.lircrc or to program-specific mappings.


Install the lirc package.


Note: This section is a quick summary. Complete documentation is available upstream.

/etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/foo.conf is the system-wide configuration translating scancodes --> keys. This directory may contain multiple conf files and each one is specific to each remote control/receiver on the system. These files are user-created config files and not directly supplied by lirc.

The definition of scancodes to keymaps is required to allow LIRC to manage a remote. Users have several options to obtain one.

Upstream provided config files

Identify which remote/receiver is to be used and see if there is a known config for it. One can use irdb-get to search the remotes database of remotes or simply browse to the URL and do the same.

An example using irdb-get to find a config file for a Streamzap remote:

$ irdb-get find stream

$ irdb-get download streamzap/streamzap.lircd.conf 
Downloaded as streamzap.lircd.conf

Once identified, copy the needed conf to /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/ to allow the daemon to initialize support for it.

# cp streamzap.lircd.conf /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/

User created config files

Users with unsupported hardware will need to either find a config file someone else has created (i.e. google) or create one. Creating one is fairly straightforward using the included /usr/bin/irrecord program which guides users along the needed process. If using a detected remote, invoke it like so:

irrecord --device=/dev/lirc0 MyRemote

The program will ask users to begin hitting keys on the remote in an attempt to learn it. If all goes well, the user will be prompted to map out each key press to a specific scancode LIRC uses to identify that specific key press. The process should take no more than 10 minutes. When finished, save the resulting file to /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/foo.conf and proceed.

Note: Consider sending the finished config file to the email address mentioned in the program so it can be made available to others.

Optional files

Depending on the application using LIRC, the following are optional. For example, mplayer and mythtv use the these files to define key maps and actions. Some other programs such as kodi for example do not make use of this at all but do have an internal system to achieve these mappings. Users should consult the documentation for the specific application to know if modifications to ~/.lircrc are needed.

  • ~/.lircrc - File containing an include statement pointing to each program's lirc map, i.e., ~/.lirc/foo, ~/.lirc/bar, etc.
  • ~/.lirc/foo - User-level config translating of keys --> actions. Is specific to each remote and to application foo.


Start lircd.service and enable it to run at boot time/shutdown (recommended).

Test the remote using /usr/bin/irw, which simply echos anything received by LIRC when users push buttons on the remote to stdout.


$ irw
000000037ff07bfe 00 One mceusb
000000037ff07bfd 00 Two mceusb
000000037ff07bfd 01 Two mceusb
000000037ff07bf2 00 Home mceusb
000000037ff07bf2 01 Home mceusb

If irw gives no output, double check the config files in /etc/lirc/lircd.conf.d/ for errors.

Program Specific Configuration

LIRC has the ability to allow for different programs to use the same keypress and result in unique commands. In other words, one can setup different programs to respond differently to a given key press.

  • Decide which programs are to use LIRC commands.
Note: Common programs include: mplayer, mythtv, totem, vlc, and kodi but not all programs will use this particular method to map keys. Kodi for example, implements LIRC in a non-standard way. Users must edit ~/.xbmc/userdata/Lircmap.xml which is a unique xml file, rather than the LIRC standard files the rest of the programs use. Interested users should consult Kodi#Using a remote control.
  • Create the expected files showing LIRC where the various program-specific maps reside:
$ mkdir ~/.lirc
$ touch ~/.lircrc
  • Populate ~/.lirc with the program specific config files named for each program.


$ ls ~/.lirc
Tip: Many pre-made files unique to each remote/program are available via googling. Providing an exhaustive listing of keymaps for each program is beyond the scope of this article.
  • Edit ~/.lircrc to contain an include statement pointing to ~/.lirc/foo and repeat for each program that is to be controlled by LIRC.


include "~/.lirc/mplayer"
include "~/.lirc/mythtv"
include "~/.lirc/vlc"


Remote functions as a keyboard

Xorg detects some remotes, such as the Streamzap USB PC Remote, as a Human Interface Device (HID) which means some or all of the keys will show up as key strokes as if entered from the physical keyboard. This behavior will present problems if LIRC is to be used to manage the device. To disable, create the following file and restart X:

Section "InputClass"
  Identifier "Ignore Streamzap IR"
  MatchProduct "Streamzap"
  MatchIsKeyboard "true"
  Option "Ignore" "true"

Do not forget to alter the MatchProduct property according to one shown in Name from output of

$ cat /proc/bus/input/devices | grep -e IR

For example WinFast for N: Name="cx88 IR (WinFast DTV2000 H rev."

See also