Chapter 14. PCMCIA

Table of Contents

14.1. Hardware
14.2. Software
14.3. Configuration
14.4. Utilities
14.5. Troubleshooting
14.6. For More Information


This section covers special aspects of PCMCIA hardware and software as found in laptops. PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association and is used as a collective term for all related hardware and software.

14.1. Hardware

The most important component is the PCMCIA card. There are two types of PCMCIA cards:

PC Cards

These cards have been around since the dawn of PCMCIA. They use a 16-bit bus for the data transmission and are usually quite inexpensive. Some modern PCMCIA bridges have difficulties detecting these cards. Nevertheless, once they are detected, they usually run smoothly and do not cause any problems.

CardBus Cards

This is a more recent standard. They use a 32-bit bus, which makes them faster but also more expensive. They are integrated in the system like PCI cards and also run smoothly.

If the PCMCIA service is active, the command cardctl ident reveals the type of the inserted card. A list of supported cards is available in the file SUPPORTED.CARDS in the directory /usr/share/doc/packages/pcmcia. The latest version of the PCMCIA HOWTO is also located in this directory.

The second important component is the PCMCIA controller or the PC card or CardBus bridge, which establishes the connection between the card and the PCI bus. All common models are supported. The controller type can be determined with the command pcic_probe. If it is a PCI device, the command lspci -vt provides further information.