View Full Version : Solved Wanted: "generic" driver for unknown USB to Serial dongles

08-12-2011, 10:27 PM
Is there some kind of software that helps to narrow the search for the matching 83980driver by analyzing the chipset inside the plastic shell?

08-12-2011, 10:37 PM
Plug it into an Linux computer (if you don't find one, burn a Knoppix CD or some other live-CD Linux and boot your Windows computer from it), open a shell, enter 'lsusb'. It'll show the device ID in hex which can be looked up on the net, and (if it's already in the list that Linux knows about) also the name and other info. I couldn't find my USB-Serial dongle but I plugged in an USB-to-PS/2 kbd/mouse dongle and ran 'lsusb':

Bus 004 Device 004: ID 04d9:1400 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc. PS/2 keyboard + mouse controller

There could well be some software awailable for Windows as well, but I don't have a Windows machine so I can only tell what I know.


08-12-2011, 10:54 PM
In Windows XP, after plugging the device in and failing to find the driver, right-click "My Computer" and click "Properties," click the "Hardware" tab then the "Device Manager" button. Find the device in the tree view; it may show up in Ports, "Other Devices," or elsewhere, but it should show up with a warning ! since the driver isn't installed. When you find the device double-click on it, then on the Device Properties window that opens click the Details tab. On the drop-down list of details you can view, click "Hardware ID's," which should be the second choice after the top default of "Instance ID's." This should give you roughly the same information as lsusb for looking up the driver on the internet.

Loopy Byteloose
08-13-2011, 08:26 AM
There is an advantage in using Linux to narrow your search as the open source policy allows more precise visibility than any commercial OS. Of course, if Linux is not easy for you, that is the downside. Linux is great for hacking into just about anything.

Try Puppy Linux for a CD version that doesn't mess with your installed Windows OS. Or, use an Ubuntu "LiveCD" mode of their CD. It is dual use - it can demonstrate Ubuntu without installation and it can be used to install Ubuntu.

08-13-2011, 10:32 AM
There is an advantage in using Linux to narrow your search as the open source policy allows more precise visibility than any commercial OS.

Hey Loopy, what do you mean with this comment?

In reading the above comments, it looks like it is really easy in either platform to get the device manufacture info. And I'd think with Windows it'd be easier to support for two major reasons... 1) Windows is a little more popular, and therefore has a larger support base by manufacturers, and 2) Windows Update can often find drivers without the need to have you search for them.


(PS - Board Administrators... when we're doing a "Reply" or "Reply with Quote" from the thread... you should really hide the "+ Reply to Thread" button, because it wipes out any text you made with the Quick Reply feature!!! Having the "Post Quick Reply" button not as visible as the "+ Reply To Thread" button has gotten me several times in this forum.)

08-13-2011, 10:37 AM
Also, in Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can simply right mouse click on the "Computer" in Explorer and choose "Manage Computer." From there, you can click on "Device Manager" and see a list of all the devices connected. Your unknown device, like LocalRoger pointed out, will be highlighted with a "!" yield shield. Right click on it and go to it's properties, details to see the same info.

If you want, you can also launch it from the command prompt by typing in "devmgmt" and pressing enter.


08-13-2011, 11:03 AM
The most visible difference for me when using equipment and devices with Linux and Windows is that they always come with a driver CD.. everything from tiny Bluetooth dongles to the Logitech webcam I got yesterday (rescued from going into the dump). So, to get the thing working on Windows you're apparently supposed to install a driver from the CD. While to get it working on Linux you just plug it in, and it works. This is definitely the general rule. The only exceptions I've ran into more than once are certain wi-fi dongles, although that seems to have changed (for the better) the last couple of years (in any case that's the one case where it's not a real problem - I've managed to use all my dongles with the Windows driver, because for these particular kind of devices there's a wrapper made for Linux to run Windows drivers).

But in any case, the real rule is: Use the operating system that works out easiest for you and let you concentrate on what you want to do and doesn't feel like getting in the way. Whether that's Windows or Linux or OS X or something else, or all of them.

But, and this applies whether you're a Windows user or a Linux user: It's often a good idea to have a Linux Live CD (or bootable USB stick) available as a rescue / trouble assistant tool. You can boot the Live CD to fix your Windows system or your Linux system in case something made them unbootable, for example. Just play with the Live CD a bit so that you know how to use it, and you'll have another tool in your toolbox for when you need it.


08-13-2011, 12:50 PM
I think part of the problem with Windows is that it's a little too helpful; I've had several devices insist that I absolutely must install the driver before plugging the USB device in, because if I don't when I plug the USB device in Windows will install something for it that interferes with the installation of the real driver. I've gotten that warning with just about every USB-serial converter I've tried and a couple of WiFi dongles.

Oh, and seconding what wjsteele said about the REPLY TO THREAD button, that thing has gotten me several times too.

Loopy Byteloose
08-13-2011, 06:09 PM
Yes, people do expect Windows to do the installations, not the user. And you can get into loops where nothing gets done.

Well at the risk of being unAmerican, the fact that Linux is based on Unix means that it provides access to are rather large selection of FREE utility applications whereas Windows in any form will generally ask you to pay money for such. In fact, my Ubuntu Linux provides about 2700 commands at the Command promt to handle whatever you want in the system.

It is very easy for me to get a Hexidecimal dump of any file in Linux, but I am not sure such an option is even available in W7. And generally, Linux is quite straight forward about explaining how things work at a low level. Whereas all the commercial OSes tend to put their own vocabulary to work to cloud the issue. And finally, Linux users will give you a good answer. My Windows7 seems to tell me to ask a friend, ask an expert, read the online help; but don't ask M$ (unless you have paid for support). Additionally, everything in Unix and Linux is treated as a file that is mounted to the system. So finding out how something fits in is just a matter of learning to locate it within the file system.

BTW, I do have friends that won't touch Linux and believe that Windows is the best product in the world. I just believe that even today, a beginner is more empowered by reading "The Unix Programing Environment" by Kernighan and Pike. And then, moving on.

Nonetheless, I do have to admit that there is hardware that is unsupported in Linux - certain scanners, HP printer/fax/copier combos, certain cameras, and such. Since M$ will write a driver for all and everything, but likes manufacturers that refuse to support Linux -- some devices just will never be a part of Linux.

08-13-2011, 06:27 PM
I know this is a weak atempt but have u tried radioshacks usb to serial driver? I work at a local computer repair shop and we had a similar problem and that driver seems to work for alot of generic ones.
Its worth a shot at least ;)

08-13-2011, 07:05 PM
Thank you all for the great help - I will try ALL suggestions after this weekend and report the results.
As for the Radioshack driver I found this link and will try it as well

http://cr.am/framed.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsupport.radioshack.com %2Fsoft.htm&ref=driverguide

Monday report: I found what I need using linux - see jpg 84069