Section: User Commands (1)

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discover --- hardware detection utility


discover [DATA_OPTIONS] [DISPLAY_OPTIONS] [--bus-summary] [bus ...]

discover [DATA_OPTIONS] [DISPLAY_OPTIONS] --type-summary [type ...]

discover [DATA_OPTIONS] --data-path=path/to/data ... [--data-version=version] [--normalize-whitespace] [--format=format string] [type | id ...]

-d | --disable-bus=bus:
-e | --enable-bus=bus:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|-v | --verbose:


:• <DD CLASS="c1|--model | --no-model:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|--model-id | --no-model-id:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|--vendor | --no-vendor:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|--vendor-id | --no-vendor-id:


discover provides an extensible hardware detection and reporting interface. Hardware information is stored in an XML data format and can be retrieved across the network.

Fundamental modes of operation:

Display a list of hardware devices based on type of device or system bus on which the devices reside, via --type-summary or --bus-summary (the latter of which is the default behavior).


Query specified data for attached hardware, via --data-path.:


-h | --help
Display a simple help message.:
-v | --verbose
Instruct the tool to provide feedback as it operates. This will affect the output as discover parses certain arguments, so this should appear early in the command line.:
-V | --version
Display the tool name and version.:
-b | --bus-summary
This is the default behavior: Display basic information regarding all devices on the appropriate buses. See "Selecting Buses" >.:
-t | --type-summary
Summarize devices by class of hardware. Examples of valid device types include broadband, fixeddisk, display, and network. See "Device Types" >.:
Query matching devices for detailed information. Device-specific data is stored in a hierarchical fashion, and the query argument comprises strings naming each level in that hierarchy.Typically, the top-level component of the data path will be the ``platform' that will need the information, such as linux or xfree86. For example, to retrieve the Linux kernel module name for a piece of hardware, the --data-path argument would be linux/module/name.If multiple --data-path arguments are given and no format string (see --format) is provided, only the last path is used.See also the --data-version' argument.:
Specify a version string for the platform that will use the information specified by the argument to --data-path.This string must be in dotted-decimal notation in order to be matched against a range of values, and thus may be shorter than the real version.:
--format=format string
Dictate the output of the results of the queries specified by --data-path arguments. This format string should follow printf?(3) specifications, although only %s and appropriate flags, precision, and width values are supported (or make sense); literal text and can also be used. The behavior when the string is poorly formatted is undefined. See also --normalize-whitespace.:
-d | --disable-bus=bus
Use this option to override the list of buses to scan by default as defined in discover.conf. Use all as an argument to disable all buses; this is useful only if followed by --enable-bus (or -e) arguments.:
-e | --enable-bus=bus
Specify a bus to be scanned.:
Insert a URL at the head of the list of network resources to include in the search for hardware information. Earlier data overrides later data; to override the local data sources, insert URLs into the list. See also --append-url.:
Append a URL to the end of the list of network resources to search for hardware information. See also --insert-url.:
Include the model description in summary information. This is enabled by default.:
Include the numeric model identifier in summary information.:
Do not include the model description in summary information.:
Do not include the numeric model identifier in summary information. This is the default.:
Include the vendor description in summary information. This is enabled by default.:
Include the numeric vendor identifier in summary information.:
Do not include the vendor description in summary information.:
Do not include the numeric vendor identifier in summary information. This is the default.:
Consolidate whitespace in the results of a --data-path query. The default is not to do so, which faithfully reproduces all text in the raw XML data.With this option enabled, leading and trailing whitespace is removed, and any consecutive internal whitespaces are compressed to a single space character.:

Selecting Buses

discover.conf defines two lists of system buses: one to scan by default (used by the discover command), and one never to scan (used by the Discover library).

You can override and/or extend the list of default buses with --disable-bus and --enable-bus. The list of buses not to scan cannot be overridden without changing discover.conf, so that list should be used only for buses that may be dangerous to probe.

Both arguments take the string ``all'' as a value.

If a bus summary is being performed, which is indicated either by the presence of --bus-summary or the absence of --type-summary and --data-path, any unattached arguments on the command line will be interpreted as the only buses to scan. This is equivalent to using --disable-bus all before invoking --enable-bus for the buses of interest.

The following buses are currently supported by Discover:


:• <DD CLASS="c1|ata:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|pci:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|pcmcia:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|scsi:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|usb:

Device Types

Discover defines its own device types, to which the device types used by each bus are mapped. Discover currently recognizes the following device types:


:• <DD CLASS="c1|audioA device capable of producing an analog or digital sound signal is an audio device. Typically, any device commonly referred to as a ``sound card' is classified by Discover' as an audio device.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|bridgeA device that provides access to devices of a different type, commonly on a different bus, is a bridge device. For instance, consumer PCI chipsets often feature a bridge to ATA (also known as IDE) devices.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|broadbandAn interface device to a computer communications network implemented on top of a technology not explicitly designed for that purpose is a broadband device. Examples include ISDN terminal adapters as well as DSL and cable ``modems'; analog phone-line modems are not included in this classification (see ``modem' below).:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|displayA device controlled by the host machine's CPU and capable of producing an analog or digital video signal for output purposes is a display device. Typically, any device commonly referred to as a ``video card' is classified by Discover' as a display device.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|fixeddiskA high-speed, fixed magnetic storage device such as a hard disk drive is a fixeddisk device. Removable media devices such as floppy disk drives, CD-ROM drives, magneto-optical devices, tape drives, and Compact Flash card readers are not included in this classification.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|humaninputA device that receives tactile input from a person for the purpose of directing a computer's activity is a humaninput device. Examples include keyboards, mice, trackballs, joysticks, gamepads, digital tablets manipulated with a stylus or finger, and so forth. Input devices that rely upon non-tactile means of determining a person's intent, such as speech-recognition devices or cameras, are not included in this classification.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|imagingA device that captures still images for input purposes is an imaging device. Scanners and digital cameras are examples of imaging devices. Motion-capture devices such as television tuner cards, webcams, and digital video cameras are not included in this classification.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|miscellaneousAny device that cannot logically be classified as another device type is a miscellaneous device.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|modemAn analog phone-line modulator/demodulator (modem) is classified by Discover as a modem device. No other kind of device is so classified.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|networkAn interface device to a conventional computer data communications network that does not require the use of a terminal adapter is a network device. For example, Ethernet and Token Ring network interface cards are network devices. Analog phone-line modems; terminal adapters for technologies such as ISDN and DSL; and ``cable modems' are not ``network' devices.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|opticalAn optical-technology storage device, often using read-only media, is an optical device. By far the most common examples of these devices are CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives, including versions of these drives that can ``burn'' (write to) optical discs.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|printerA device that renders visual output in a permanent or semi-permanent manner to a physical medium is a printer. Typically, any device colloquially referred to as a ``printer' is also classified by Discover' as a printer.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|removablediskStorage devices that feature removable media using just about any technology except that of magnetic tape, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM drives are removabledisk devices. Examples include floppy disk drives, magneto-optical drives, and Compact Flash card readers.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|tapeA sequential-access mass storage device using magnetic tape is a tape device. Commonly used for archival and backup purposes, DAT drives are examples of tape devices.:

:• <DD CLASS="c1|videoA device that produces a real-time digital video signal for input purposes is a video device. Webcams, digital video cameras, and television tuners are examples of video devices. Note that still digital cameras with ``movie capability are not'' considered video devices unless they can transmit the live video signal to the host in real time.:


Scan the local buses

View PCI video cards

Query for the driver module for XFree86 server version 4.2.0

Get model and vendor information by type


The directory containing configuration files that control the default behavior for both the discover tool and the Discover library.


An XML file containing URLs with hardware information. This list can be extended with --append-url and --extend-url.



Josh Bressers, John R. Daily, and G. Branden Robinson developed the current implementation of Discover for Progeny Linux Systems.

The Linux implementation of the system-dependent interfaces is derived from detect, by MandrakeSoft SA.

See Also

(5), discover-modprobe?(8)






Selecting Buses

Device Types




See Also

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