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Confusion regarding Xilinx cable drivers


What exactly are the "cable drivers"? Guides such as https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/user_guides/ug344.pdf and https://www.xilinx.com/support/documentation/sw_manuals/xilinx2016_4/ug973-vivado-release-notes-install-license.pdf also don't clearly state what it is.

Are they loadable kernel modules? Device files under /dev? Are they user space utilities? This is not clear to me. Running the install script prints out some information that doesn't really help me either.

For an FPGA beginner like me that can't get this to work, and doesn't even know how the "cable driver" system is intended to work, and with documentation being scarce and sometimes misleading (e.g. referring to readme files that don't exist), this is hard.

What should a functional system that has the "cable drivers" look like?

What (if any) cable driver related prosesses should be running?

What (if any) loadable kernel modules should be present on the system?

What does a successfully detected Digilent FPGA device look like when listing USB devices using lsusb?

For a modern Linux distro, it is even needed at all to install the cable drivers, with a modern kernel? Again, this question only makes sense once I know what the "cable drivers" are. Are they user space or kernel space related?

I've also been told this before:


Did you install the Digilent runtime and utilities by running install.sh in *.gz files.

What exactly is the "Digilent runtime", and how does it relate to the cable drivers?

What install.sh files should I run? There are several available after installing Vivado.

I'm an experienced Linux user, if someone could walk me through this that would be very nice and helpful.

Edited by aeon20

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Hi @aeon20,

I attached a screen shot of the terminal text response to the command lsusb when the arty -A7 is connected to my pc.  I am using a VM with ubuntu 16.04. 




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Hi @aeon20,

To add on to what @jpeyron said, the cable drivers are effectively (as per page 11 in this document you linked) proprietary device drivers that allow the design software (i.e. Vivado Hardware Manager or Xilinx ISE iMPACT) to communicate with a Xilinx USB cable. Digilent boards do not use a Xilinx USB cable (such as a Platform Cable II) directly, but has the equivalent circuitry on the board that also need these device drivers.

The Digilent Runtime and Utilities are  part of Adept (available for download on the right hand side of the Adept 2 Resource Center and listed as "Runtime" and "Utilities", respectively) and from my understanding help facilitate the Xilinx software communicate with Digilent boards.

Thank you,

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