Intel Rolls Out thunderbolt-utils To Manage USB4/Thunderbolt Devices On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 18 July 2023 at 01:12 PM EDT. 10 Comments
In addition to Intel engineers being responsible for much of the Linux kernel driver work around USB4 and Thunderbolt, they have now published thunderbolt-utils as a collection of user-space utilities for managing USB4/Thunderbolt on Linux environments.

Released today was the inaugural "v0.1-rc1" release of thunderbolt-utils for this set of Thunderbolt/USB4 utilities. This includes a new utility named lstbt that is akin to lspci or lsusb but rather than listing PCI or USB devices, respectively, will provide information around the Thunderbolt/USB4 subsystem. This collection of utilities also includes work on providing wrappers for abstracting the configuration of the USB4/Thunderbolt subsystem.

Today's release announcement of thunderbolt-utils goes on to note more of the motivation for this new user-space software project out of Intel:
Thunderbolt/USB4, a relatively newer industry standard with its v2 released past year is now increasingly being adopted.

'lstbt' serves as the first incorporation of a user-space helper library for the subsystem that fulfills the following requirements and provides advantages throughout the Linux community.

1. Better subsystem exposure to the user: The library provides the subsystem's information in a compact and legible format to the user with detailed functionalities available using the verbose option. Apart from serving as a handy library, it exports the information using TBT/USB4 keywords like domains, routers, ports, etc., most of which are unperceived to the users as of now.

2. Better debugging: Since the library extracts valuable information like the routers' functionalities (PM, protocol-tunneling, e.g., PCIe, USB, and DP, various states, negotiated parameters, bandwidth used, NVM, etc.), it will serve as a very vital tool for Linux debuggers throughout the industry.

3. Automation exposure: Automation being increasingly adopted in various industries as a way to aid in debugs, detect faults autonomously, or even create dedicated scripts around the subsystems, the library will be utilized as the primary go-to option for the TBT/USB4 subsystem.

The secondary component of the utilities is providing wrappers for the user to configure the subsystem. This is probably the first prefatory incorporation of such utilities which would help the users who wish to handle the subsystem outside the kernel-space. This subsequently provides the user better controllability over the subsystem which obviously would pave the way for the development of independent software around it, which can provide the users to derive dedicated functionalities over the subsystem. This is in its rudimentary phase as of now.

This follows Intel adding USB4 v2 support to Linux 6.5.

Dell Thunderbolt Dock
A Dell Thunderbolt Dock.

The thunderbolt-utils code will evolve moving forward via its new GitHub project site.
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