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Usb MIDI interfaces

It's been a while since I wrote the original Nano HOWTO on usbmidi and a lot has changed (for the better) in the land of usb midi interfaces and linux. The whole thing is now much easier to install and has better support for more interfaces. Issues solved since I last wrote about this topic:

  • supported devices: both the Midisport 1x1 and 2x2 are supported by the new firmware
  • midi input: you can now have MIDI inputs connected while the firmware is being loaded (it used to hang the interface)
  • configuration: a newer version of the hotplug package enabled to create an RPM that needs fewer configuration file tweaks


  1. Midiman Uno
  2. Midiman USB Midisport 1x1
  3. Midiman USB Midisport 2x2
  4. Midiman USB Midisport 4x4
    does not work with this firmware yet
  5. Midiman USB Midisport 8x8
    does not work with this firmware yet
  6. Midiman Oxygen8
    does not work with this firmware yet
  7. Midiman Quattro
    the midi interface of the Quattro does not need a firmware download. However it needs a new version of alsa that supports the Midiman usb protocol (rc5 or newer).

Software and firmware

IMPORTANT: if you are upgrading from a Planet CCRMA version of ezusbmidi earlier than 2002_11_17-,1 you need to do two things:

a) remove the configuration lines that you added previously to /etc/hotplug/usb.usermap. They are no longer necessary as the new version of hotplug can parse separate usermap files (that feature is used by the new ezusbmidi rpm). To do that edit /etc/hotplug/usb.usermap and remove all lines that start with ``ezusbmidi'' before upgrading to the new ezusbmidi.

b) erase the older ezusbmidi package manually (``rpm -e ezusbmidi'') before installing the new one - this is necessary because the version numbering scheme changed to match Pedro Lopez-Cabanilla's rpms.

The Midisport interfaces do nothing until some firmware is loaded into them. As shipped they connect to the USB subsystem but they do not have anything MIDI related in them, as listed by lsusb. There is GPL firmware available for the Midisport interfaces in the Linux Hotplug Project (this used to be hosted at this page) that we will use to make them functional under Linux. We are not going to use the oss raw driver that is included in the ezusbmidi package, just the firmware images that are part of it.

We will also need software to download the firmware to the Midisport interface. Planet CCRMA used to have a separate package called fxload for that. Currently we use the latest version of the hotplug package, which already includes the fxload utility.

To install the latest version of hotplug and hotplug-gtk type (this may also install or upgrade the usbutils package, depending on which version of RedHat you are running):

yum install hotplug hotplug-gtk

To add the firmware and configuration files for the Midisport interfaces type:

yum install ezusbmidi

ManPages: fxload, hotplug


hotplug [i386: fc10 fc11 fc12 c5 | x86_64: fc10 fc11 fc12 c5]
hotplug-gtk [i386: fc10 fc11 fc12 c5 | x86_64: fc10 fc11 fc12 c5]


There is almost nothing to configure if you are using the Planet CCRMA version of hotplug and ezusbmidi.

  1. add usb-midi and audio to the /etc/hotplug/blacklist file So that the OSS audio and usb-midi modules are not automatically loaded when the device reconnects after the firmware download. Add ``usb-midi'' and ``audio'' in separate lines at the end of the list of blacklisted modules in that file.

  2. make sure you have configuration ``space'' for the soundcard Make sure that in your /etc/modules.conf the Options line for snd has card_limit=3 if you have one soundcard, or 4 if you have two (the current alsa version in Planet CCRMA uses two devices for the Midisport). Otherwise the snd-usb-audio and snd-usb-midi modules will not be able to be loaded on demand.

So, su root, do a ``tail -f /var/log/messages'' to see what happens and insert the Midisport 1x1 or 2x2 to a working USB interface. If all LEDs eventually blink once, then turn off and the USB LED blinks very fast then you should be in bussiness.

If you do a ``cat /proc/asound/cards'' you should see two cards in addition to your normal audio card entry (or entries). The first card is a ``dummy'' usb audio card with no devices, the second card is the usb midi device and should contain one or two midi devices, depending on which interface box you have. Do a ``cat /proc/asound/devices'' to see what you have. If you have a VERY new cvs version of alsa (not yet in Planet CCRMA), only one extra card will show with the MIDI devices.

So, if you have one audio card you should try starting pd with:
pd -mididev 3
For some reason numbering of devices in pd is 1 based. If you open the ``Testing Audio and Midi'' patch you should be able to check that the interface is working.

I have also tested this setup with Muse.

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© Copyright 2001...2019 Fernando Lopez-Lezcano, CCRMA, Stanford University.
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