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19.4 Bluetooth

Written by Pav Lucistnik.

19.4.1 Introduction

Bluetooth is a wireless technology for creating personal networks operating in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band, with a range of 10 meters. Networks are usually formed ad-hoc from portable devices such as cellular phones, handhelds and laptops. Unlike the other popular wireless technology, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth offers higher level service profiles, e.g. FTP-like file servers, file pushing, voice transport, serial line emulation, and more.

The Bluetooth stack in FreeBSD is implemented using the Netgraph framework (see netgraph(4)). A broad variety of Bluetooth USB dongles is supported by the ng_ubt(4) driver. The Broadcom BCM2033 chip based Bluetooth devices are supported via the ubtbcmfw(4) and ng_ubt(4) drivers. The 3Com Bluetooth PC Card 3CRWB60-A is supported by the ng_bt3c(4) driver. Serial and UART based Bluetooth devices are supported via sio(4), ng_h4(4) and hcseriald(8). This chapter describes the use of the USB Bluetooth dongle. Bluetooth support is available in FreeBSD 5.0 and newer systems.

19.4.2 Plugging in the Device

By default Bluetooth device drivers are available as kernel modules. Before attaching a device, you will need to load the driver into the kernel.

# kldload ng_ubt

If the Bluetooth device is present in the system during system startup, load the module from /boot/loader.conf.


Plug in your USB dongle. The output similar to the following will appear on the console (or in syslog).

ubt0: vendor 0x0a12 product 0x0001, rev 1.10/5.25, addr 2
ubt0: Interface 0 endpoints: interrupt=0x81, bulk-in=0x82, bulk-out=0x2
ubt0: Interface 1 (alt.config 5) endpoints: isoc-in=0x83, isoc-out=0x3,
      wMaxPacketSize=49, nframes=6, buffer size=294

Copy /usr/share/examples/netgraph/bluetooth/rc.bluetooth into some convenient place, like /etc/rc.bluetooth. This script is used to start and stop the Bluetooth stack. It is a good idea to stop the stack before unplugging the device, but it is not (usually) fatal. When starting the stack, you will receive output similar to the following:

# /etc/rc.bluetooth start ubt0
BD_ADDR: 00:02:72:00:d4:1a
Features: 0xff 0xff 0xf 00 00 00 00 00
<3-Slot> <5-Slot> <Encryption> <Slot offset>
<Timing accuracy> <Switch> <Hold mode> <Sniff mode>
<Park mode> <RSSI> <Channel quality> <SCO link>
<HV2 packets> <HV3 packets> <u-law log> <A-law log> <CVSD>
<Paging scheme> <Power control> <Transparent SCO data>
Max. ACL packet size: 192 bytes
Number of ACL packets: 8
Max. SCO packet size: 64 bytes
Number of SCO packets: 8

19.4.3 Host Controller Interface (HCI)

Host Controller Interface (HCI) provides a command interface to the baseband controller and link manager, and access to hardware status and control registers. This interface provides a uniform method of accessing the Bluetooth baseband capabilities. HCI layer on the Host exchanges data and commands with the HCI firmware on the Bluetooth hardware. The Host Controller Transport Layer (i.e. physical bus) driver provides both HCI layers with the ability to exchange information with each other.

A single Netgraph node of type hci is created for a single Bluetooth device. The HCI node is normally connected to the Bluetooth device driver node (downstream) and the L2CAP node (upstream). All HCI operations must be performed on the HCI node and not on the device driver node. Default name for the HCI node is ``devicehci''. For more details refer to the ng_hci(4) man page.

One of the most common tasks is discovery of Bluetooth devices in RF proximity. This operation is called inquiry. Inquiry and other HCI realated operations are done with the hccontrol(8) utility. The example below shows how to find out which Bluetooth devices are in range. You should receive the list of devices in a few seconds. Note that a remote device will only answer the inquiry if it put into discoverable mode.

% hccontrol -n ubt0hci inquiry
Inquiry result, num_responses=1
Inquiry result #0
       BD_ADDR: 00:80:37:29:19:a4
       Page Scan Rep. Mode: 0x1
       Page Scan Period Mode: 00
       Page Scan Mode: 00
       Class: 52:02:04
       Clock offset: 0x78ef
Inquiry complete. Status: No error [00]

BD_ADDR is unique address of a Bluetooth device, similar to MAC addresses of a network card. This address is needed for further communication with a device. It is possible to assign human readable name to a BD_ADDR. The /etc/bluetooth/hosts file contains information regarding the known Bluetooth hosts. The following example shows how to obtain human readable name that was assigned to the remote device.

% hccontrol -n ubt0hci remote_name_request 00:80:37:29:19:a4
BD_ADDR: 00:80:37:29:19:a4
Name: Pav's T39

If you perform an inquiry on a remote Bluetooth device, it will find your computer as `` (ubt0)''. The name assigned to the local device can be changed at any time.

The Bluetooth system provides a point-to-point connection (only two Bluetooth units involved), or a point-to-multipoint connection. In the point-to-multipoint connection the connection is shared among several Bluetooth devices. The following example shows how to obtain the list of active baseband connections for the local device.

% hccontrol -n ubt0hci read_connection_list
Remote BD_ADDR    Handle Type Mode Role Encrypt Pending Queue State
00:80:37:29:19:a4     41  ACL    0 MAST    NONE       0     0 OPEN

A connection handle is useful when termination of the baseband connection is required. Note, that it is normally not required to do it by hand. The stack will automatically terminate inactive baseband connections.

# hccontrol -n ubt0hci disconnect 41
Connection handle: 41
Reason: Connection terminated by local host [0x16]

Refer to hccontrol help for a complete listing of available HCI commands. Most of the HCI commands do not require superuser privileges.

19.4.4 Logical Link Control and Adaptation Protocol (L2CAP)

Logical Link Control and Adaptation Protocol (L2CAP) provides connection-oriented and connectionless data services to upper layer protocols with protocol multiplexing capability and segmentation and reassembly operation. L2CAP permits higher level protocols and applications to transmit and receive L2CAP data packets up to 64 kilobytes in length.

L2CAP is based around the concept of channels. Channel is a logical connection on top of baseband connection. Each channel is bound to a single protocol in a many-to-one fashion. Multiple channels can be bound to the same protocol, but a channel cannot be bound to multiple protocols. Each L2CAP packet received on a channel is directed to the appropriate higher level protocol. Multiple channels can share the same baseband connection.

A single Netgraph node of type l2cap is created for a single Bluetooth device. The L2CAP node is normally connected to the Bluetooth HCI node (downstream) and Bluetooth sockets nodes (upstream). Default name for the L2CAP node is ``devicel2cap''. For more details refer to the ng_l2cap(4) man page.

A useful command is l2ping(8), which can be used to ping other devices. Some Bluetooth implementations might not return all of the data sent to them, so 0 bytes in the following example is normal.

# l2ping -a 00:80:37:29:19:a4
0 bytes from 0:80:37:29:19:a4 seq_no=0 time=48.633 ms result=0
0 bytes from 0:80:37:29:19:a4 seq_no=1 time=37.551 ms result=0
0 bytes from 0:80:37:29:19:a4 seq_no=2 time=28.324 ms result=0
0 bytes from 0:80:37:29:19:a4 seq_no=3 time=46.150 ms result=0

The l2control(8) utility is used to perform various operations on L2CAP nodes. This example shows how to obtain the list of logical connections (channels) and the list of baseband connections for the local device.

% l2control -a 00:02:72:00:d4:1a read_channel_list
L2CAP channels:
00:07:e0:00:0b:ca    66/   64     3   132/  672 OPEN
% l2control -a 00:02:72:00:d4:1a read_connection_list
L2CAP connections:
Remote BD_ADDR    Handle Flags Pending State
00:07:e0:00:0b:ca     41 O           0 OPEN

Another diagnostic tool is btsockstat(1). It does a job similar to as netstat(1) does, but for Bluetooth network-related data structures. The example below shows the same logical connection as l2control(8) above.

% btsockstat
Active L2CAP sockets
PCB      Recv-Q Send-Q Local address/PSM       Foreign address   CID   State
c2afe900      0      0 00:02:72:00:d4:1a/3     00:07:e0:00:0b:ca 66    OPEN
Active RFCOMM sessions
L2PCB    PCB      Flag MTU   Out-Q DLCs State
c2afe900 c2b53380 1    127   0     Yes  OPEN
Active RFCOMM sockets
PCB      Recv-Q Send-Q Local address     Foreign address   Chan DLCI State
c2e8bc80      0    250 00:02:72:00:d4:1a 00:07:e0:00:0b:ca 3    6    OPEN

19.4.5 RFCOMM Protocol

The RFCOMM protocol provides emulation of serial ports over the L2CAP protocol. The protocol is based on the ETSI standard TS 07.10. RFCOMM is a simple transport protocol, with additional provisions for emulating the 9 circuits of RS-232 (EIATIA-232-E) serial ports. The RFCOMM protocol supports up to 60 simultaneous connections (RFCOMM channels) between two Bluetooth devices.

For the purposes of RFCOMM, a complete communication path involves two applications running on different devices (the communication endpoints) with a communication segment between them. RFCOMM is intended to cover applications that make use of the serial ports of the devices in which they reside. The communication segment is a Bluetooth link from one device to another (direct connect).

RFCOMM is only concerned with the connection between the devices in the direct connect case, or between the device and a modem in the network case. RFCOMM can support other configurations, such as modules that communicate via Bluetooth wireless technology on one side and provide a wired interface on the other side.

In FreeBSD the RFCOMM protocol is implemented at the Bluetooth sockets layer.

19.4.6 Pairing of Devices

By default, Bluetooth communication is not authenticated, and any device can talk to any other device. A Bluetooth device (for example, cellular phone) may choose to require authentication to provide a particular service (for example, Dial-Up service). Bluetooth authentication is normally done with PIN codes. A PIN code is an ASCII string up to 16 characters in length. User is required to enter the same PIN code on both devices. Once user has entered the PIN code, both devices will generate a link key. After that the link key can be stored either in the devices themselves or in a persistent storage. Next time both devices will use previously generated link key. The described above procedure is called pairing. Note that if the link key is lost by any device then pairing must be repeated.

The hcsecd(8) daemon is responsible for handling of all Bluetooth authentication requests. The default configuration file is /etc/bluetooth/hcsecd.conf. An example section for a cellular phone with the PIN code arbitrarily set to ``1234'' is shown below.

device {
        bdaddr  00:80:37:29:19:a4;
        name    "Pav's T39";
        key     nokey;
        pin     "1234";

There is no limitation on PIN codes (except length). Some devices (for example Bluetooth headsets) may have a fixed PIN code built in. The -d switch forces the hcsecd(8) daemon to stay in the foreground, so it is easy to see what is happening. Set the remote device to receive pairing and initiate the Bluetooth connection to the remote device. The remote device should say that pairing was accepted, and request the PIN code. Enter the same PIN code as you have in hcsecd.conf. Now your PC and the remote device are paired. Alternatively, you can initiate pairing on the remote device. Below in the sample hcsecd output.

hcsecd[16484]: Got Link_Key_Request event from 'ubt0hci', remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4
hcsecd[16484]: Found matching entry, remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4, name 'Pav's T39', link key doesn't exist
hcsecd[16484]: Sending Link_Key_Negative_Reply to 'ubt0hci' for remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4
hcsecd[16484]: Got PIN_Code_Request event from 'ubt0hci', remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4
hcsecd[16484]: Found matching entry, remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4, name 'Pav's T39', PIN code exists
hcsecd[16484]: Sending PIN_Code_Reply to 'ubt0hci' for remote bdaddr 0:80:37:29:19:a4

19.4.7 Service Discovery Protocol (SDP)

The Service Discovery Protocol (SDP) provides the means for client applications to discover the existence of services provided by server applications as well as the attributes of those services. The attributes of a service include the type or class of service offered and the mechanism or protocol information needed to utilize the service.

SDP involves communication between a SDP server and a SDP client. The server maintains a list of service records that describe the characteristics of services associated with the server. Each service record contains information about a single service. A client may retrieve information from a service record maintained by the SDP server by issuing a SDP request. If the client, or an application associated with the client, decides to use a service, it must open a separate connection to the service provider in order to utilize the service. SDP provides a mechanism for discovering services and their attributes, but it does not provide a mechanism for utilizing those services.

Normally, a SDP client searches for services based on some desired characteristics of the services. However, there are times when it is desirable to discover which types of services are described by an SDP server's service records without any a priori information about the services. This process of looking for any offered services is called browsing.

The Bluetooth SDP server sdpd(8) and command line client sdpcontrol(8) are included in the standard FreeBSD installation. The following example shows how to perform a SDP browse query.

% sdpcontrol -a 00:01:03:fc:6e:ec browse
Record Handle: 00000000
Service Class ID List:
        Service Discovery Server (0x1000)
Protocol Descriptor List:
        L2CAP (0x0100)
                Protocol specific parameter #1: u/int/uuid16 1
                Protocol specific parameter #2: u/int/uuid16 1

Record Handle: 0x00000001
Service Class ID List:
        Browse Group Descriptor (0x1001)

Record Handle: 0x00000002
Service Class ID List:
        LAN Access Using PPP (0x1102)
Protocol Descriptor List:
        L2CAP (0x0100)
        RFCOMM (0x0003)
                Protocol specific parameter #1: u/int8/bool 1
Bluetooth Profile Descriptor List:
        LAN Access Using PPP (0x1102) ver. 1.0

... and so on. Note that each service has a list of attributes (RFCOMM channel for example). Depending on the service you might need to make a note of some of the attributes. Some Bluetooth implementations do not support service browsing and may return an empty list. In this case it is possible to search for the specific service. The example below shows how to search for the OBEX Object Push (OPUSH) service.

% sdpcontrol -a 00:01:03:fc:6e:ec search OPUSH

Offering services on FreeBSD to Bluetooth clients is done with the sdpd(8) server.

# sdpd

The local server application that wants to provide Bluetooth service to the remote clients will register service with the local SDP daemon. The example of such application is rfcomm_pppd(8). Once started it will register Bluetooth LAN service with the local SDP daemon.

The list of services registered with the local SDP server can be obtained by issuing SDP browse query via local control channel.

# sdpcontrol -l browse

19.4.8 Dial-Up Networking (DUN) and Network Access with PPP (LAN) Profiles

The Dial-Up Networking (DUN) profile is mostly used with modems and cellular phones. The scenarios covered by this profile are the following:

  • use of a cellular phone or modem by a computer as a wireless modem for connecting to a dial-up internet access server, or using other dial-up services;

  • use of a cellular phone or modem by a computer to receive data calls.

Network Access with PPP (LAN) profile can be used in the following situations:

  • LAN access for a single Bluetooth device;

  • LAN access for multiple Bluetooth devices;

  • PC to PC (using PPP networking over serial cable emulation).

In FreeBSD both profiles are implemented with ppp(8) and rfcomm_pppd(8) - a wrapper that converts RFCOMM Bluetooth connection into something PPP can operate with. Before any profile can be used, a new PPP label in the /etc/ppp/ppp.conf must be created. Consult rfcomm_pppd(8) manual page for examples.

In the following example rfcomm_pppd(8) will be used to open RFCOMM connection to remote device with BD_ADDR 00:80:37:29:19:a4 on DUN RFCOMM channel. The actual RFCOMM channel number will be obtained from the remote device via SDP. It is possible to specify RFCOMM channel by hand, and in this case rfcomm_pppd(8) will not perform SDP query. Use sdpcontrol(8) to find out RFCOMM channel on the remote device.

# rfcomm_pppd -a 00:80:37:29:19:a4 -c -C dun -l rfcomm-dialup

In order to provide Network Access with PPP (LAN) service the sdpd(8) server must be running. A new entry for LAN clients must be created in the /etc/ppp/ppp.conf file. Consult rfcomm_pppd(8) manual page for examples. Finally, start RFCOMM PPP server on valid RFCOMM channel number. The RFCOMM PPP server will automatically register Bluetooth LAN service with the local SDP daemon. The example below shows how to start RFCOMM PPP server.

# rfcomm_pppd -s -C 7 -l rfcomm-server

19.4.9 OBEX Object Push (OPUSH) Profile

OBEX is a widely used protocol for simple file transfers between mobile devices. Its main use is in infrared communication, where it is used for generic file transfers between notebooks or Palm handhelds, and for sending business cards or calendar entries between cellular phones and other devices with PIM applications.

The OBEX server and client are implemented as a third-party package obexapp, which is available as comms/obexapp port.

OBEX client is used to push and/or pull objects from the OBEX server. An object can, for example, be a business card or an appointment. The OBEX client can obtain RFCOMM channel number from the remote device via SDP. This can be done by specifying service name instead of RFCOMM channel number. Supported service names are: IrMC, FTRN and OPUSH. It is possible to specify RFCOMM channel as a number. Below is an example of an OBEX session, where device information object is pulled from the cellular phone, and a new object (business card) is pushed into the phone's directory.

% obexapp -a 00:80:37:29:19:a4 -C IrMC
obex> get
get: remote file> telecom/devinfo.txt
get: local file> devinfo-t39.txt
Success, response: OK, Success (0x20)
obex> put
put: local file> new.vcf
put: remote file> new.vcf
Success, response: OK, Success (0x20)
obex> di
Success, response: OK, Success (0x20)

In order to provide OBEX Object Push service, sdpd(8) server must be running. A root folder, where all incoming objects will be stored, must be created. The default path to the root folder is /var/spool/obex. Finally, start OBEX server on valid RFCOMM channel number. The OBEX server will automatically register OBEX Object Push service with the local SDP daemon. The example below shows how to start OBEX server.

# obexapp -s -C 10

19.4.10 Serial Port (SP) Profile

The Serial Port (SP) profile allows Bluetooth device to perform RS232 (or similar) serial cable emulation. The scenario covered by this profile deals with legacy applications using Bluetooth as a cable replacement, through a virtual serial port abstraction.

The rfcomm_sppd(1) utility implements the Serial Port profile. Pseudo tty is used as a virtual serial port abstraction. The example below shows how to connect to a remote device Serial Port service. Note that you do not have to specify RFCOMM channel - rfcomm_sppd(1) can obtain it from the remote device via SDP. If you would like to override this, specify RFCOMM channel in the command line.

# rfcomm_sppd -a 00:07:E0:00:0B:CA -t /dev/ttyp6
rfcomm_sppd[94692]: Starting on /dev/ttyp6...

Once connected pseudo tty can be used as serial port.

# cu -l ttyp6

19.4.11 Troubleshooting A remote device cannot connect

Some older Bluetooth devices do not support role switching. By default, when FreeBSD is accepting a new connection, it tries to perform role switch and become a master. Devices, which do not support this will not be able to connect. Note the role switching is performed when a new connection is being established, so it is not possible to ask the remote device if it does support role switching. There is a HCI option to disable role switching on the local side.

# hccontrol -n ubt0hci write_node_role_switch 0 Something is going wrong, can I see what exactly is happening?

Yes, you can. Use the hcidump-1.5 third-party package that can be downloaded from here. The hcidump utility is similar to tcpdump(1). It can used to display the content of the Bluetooth packets on the terminal and to dump the Bluetooth packets to a file.





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