Manpage of SCSIDEV


Section: Maintenance Commands (8)
Updated: September 2000
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scsidev - populate /dev/scsi with device names that are independent of reconfiguration.  


scsidev [ -f ] [ -n ] [ -d ] [ -l ] [ -L ] [ -m ] [ -c ] [ -r ] [ -s ] [ -v ] [ -q ] [ -h ]  


scsidev is a utility that is used to guarantee that the same device node can be used for the same scsi device, no matter what other scsi devices are added or removed from the scsi chain. The need for this tool arose because device numbers are assigned dynamicly at boot time, and if a new disk were added to the system (or if some disk didn't spin up), then fixed device nodes would cause the wrong filesystems to be mounted, checked, etc. This can also result in security holes, as some device nodes may have permissions that allow general users access to the raw device, and if the mappings were to change, users would be able to access different devices.

scsidev is designed to be used once each time the system boots. It will scan all of the detected devices on the system, and determine a immutable name that will represent the device. It first checks to see if a node by this name already exists - if this is the case, then it checks to see if the major/minor numbers are correct. If a change in the minor number is required, then a new device is created with the correct major/minor numbers, and in addition, any ownership and permissions for the old device are applied to the new device.

Once this process is complete, then scsidev will scan all of the entries in the /dev/scsi directory, and see if any of them are for devices nodes which were added for devices that are not active. These devices are modified to have a minor number of 255 as a security precaution, since these might have permissions that would allow people to access devices that they should not be able to access. This is the default behaviour and is considered ideal for most cases, as it preserves the ownership and permissions of the files and is secure (unless you have partitions or devices that need to be protected and have minor == 255, such as sdp15).

The so called sanitizing can be influenced by the options -f -d -n.

When you rescan the bus by using the script or manually by using commands like

echo "scsi add-single-device C B T U" >/proc/scsi/scsi
(C = Controller (host) no., B = Bus (Channel), T = Target (SCSI ID), U = Unit (SCSI LUN)) after the system is booted, then you will have to rerun scsidev so that the device nodes for the newly detected devices are properly updated.

The device nodes that scsidev creates look something like "sdh4-334c0i0l0p1". In this case, the various components of the name represent physical attributes about the device or the host adapter to which it is connected. To begin with, the "h4" indicates that it is connected to an Adaptec 1542. The "-334" is a means of identifying which 1542 the device is attached to (since linux supports more than one 1542 in the system at the same time) and (in this case) corresponds to the IO Port number (hex) of the controller (this is the host adapter id number). The "c0" represents the channel number (since some host adapters can drive multiple scsi busses). The "i0l0" indicates that this device is scsi ID 0, with lun 0. Finally the "p1" indicated partition number 1.  


Flush everything from /dev/scsi prior to scanning the detected devices. All non-default ownership/permissions that may have been set will be lost.
Sanitize by deletion. Device nodes of non-available SCSI devices will be deleted instead of setting minor to 255. All non-default ownership/permissions that may have been set will be lost.
Don't touch device nodes for non-existing SCSI devices. This might have security implications and is therefore not recommended.
Symbolic link mode. Instead of creating nodes, symbolic links are created which point to the older /dev/sda1 types of device nodes. The usage of this switch is not recommended.
Use symbolic names for the aliases assigned through the /etc/scsi.alias settings (see below). The usage of this switch is not recommended.
-m mode
Specifies the mode (permissions) for new entries that need to be created.
-c maxmiss
Normally, if scsidev fails to open a generic scsi device, it finishes its scan for devices. With this option, it goes on until maxmiss missing devices were found.
scsidev does first probe the generic and then -- if appropriate -- the other highlevel devices (st, sd, sr). For removable devices (sd, sr, osst), this will fail, if no medium is inserted, so scsidev can not ensure, that the device actually corresponds to the one reported by the sg interface. After the first device scan, the situation is clear and scsidev will do the right guesses. So using -r in bootup scripts is safe. After you removed devices from your SCSI config, it isn't safe any longer.
Tells scsidev to print out the device serial numbers of all detected devices on the system. This string can be useful for forming aliases.
Verbosity. Mainly used for debugging purposes. Use multiple times for more verbosity.
Be Quiet. Only produce output, if there are errors.
Output short usage summary and copyright info and exit.


It was intended that scsidev be useful without any configuration at all. There are times when it is much more convenient to have symbolic names for various devices. These symbolic names should track devices as they get moved from controller to another, or even if the SCSI id number is changed. The general idea is that there is a configuration file /etc/scsi.alias which lists the aliases that scsidev will attempt to create. Each line represents a separate alias, and consists of a series of tokens. Here are a couple of example entries:
serial_number="DX908FK", devtype=disk, alias=fourgig
manufacturer=WANGTEK, devtype=tape, alias=qictape
id=2, devtype=generic, alias=cdwriter
The minimum requirements are that each line have a alias and a devtype field. The alias will be used to build the pathnames, and the devtype must be one of disk, tape, osst, cdrom or generic. The additional qualifiers are optional, and you must specify a sufficient number of them such that the alias will match only one device. The allowable qualifiers are:
Specifies the name of the manufacturer. This is the same string that is printed at boot time, and is also available through /proc/scsi.
Specifies the model number of the device. This is the same string that is printed at boot time, and is also available through /proc/scsi.
Specifies the revision string of the device. This is the same string that is printed at boot time, and is also available through /proc/scsi.
Specifies the serial number of the device. Not all devices implement this, but for those that do it provides a convenient mechanism to uniquely identify a device no matter where it is found on the scsi chain.
Specifies the scsi id number for the device.
Specifies the lun for the device. Most devices have a lun of 0, and it is only special devices such as cd changers that implement multiple lun devices.
Specifies which channel (i.e. which bus) for host adapters that drive multiple channels.
Specifies the partition number for disk drives. If unspecified, the alias will match all partitions on the disk.
Specifies the host adapter id number (0x334 part of sdh4-334c0i0l0p1 for example).
Specifies the unique number that each host adpater driver returns. Generally this number is always 0 except for cases where the driver supports more than one device of a given type on the system.
Specifies the host adapter driver name. (Only the given chars need to match, so you may omit the version number.)

Note that the specifiers which take string arguments can be quoted if the string contains whitespace.  


 ... was written by Eric Youngdale <>
 ... was enhanced by Kurt Garloff <>


Probably there are ...

The BIOS and LILO do not have the knowledge about the SCSI devices at boot time, so you still have to ensure, your kernel can be loaded when you insert a new disk.  


This program is free software. You can use it under the terms of the GNU GPL (General Public License) Version 2 (or any later version, at your option). Note, that the GNU GPL implies, that there is NO WARRANTY at all. Full text of the GPL can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL file.  


scsidev is available from
and will also be put on standard anonymous ftp servers.
The old version is available from




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Time: 22:18:24 GMT, March 03, 2024