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2.6. Passing Command Line Arguments to a Module

Modules can take command line arguments, but not with the argc/argv you might be used to.

To allow arguments to be passed to your module, declare the variables that will take the values of the command line arguments as global and then use the MODULE_PARM() macro, (defined in linux/module.h) to set the mechanism up. At runtime, insmod will fill the variables with any command line arguments that are given, like ./insmod mymodule.ko myvariable=5. The variable declarations and macros should be placed at the beginning of the module for clarity. The example code should clear up my admittedly lousy explanation.

The MODULE_PARM() macro takes 2 arguments: the name of the variable and its type. The supported variable types are "b": single byte, "h": short int, "i": integer, "l": long int and "s": string, and the integer types can be signed as usual or unsigned. Strings should be declared as "char *" and insmod will allocate memory for them. You should always try to give the variables an initial default value. This is kernel code, and you should program defensively. For example:

int myint = 3;
char *mystr;

MODULE_PARM(myint, "i");
MODULE_PARM(mystr, "s");

Arrays are supported too. An integer value preceding the type in MODULE_PARM will indicate an array of some maximum length. Two numbers separated by a '-' will give the minimum and maximum number of values. For example, an array of shorts with at least 2 and no more than 4 values could be declared as:

int myshortArray[4];
MODULE_PARM (myintArray, "3-9i");

A good use for this is to have the module variable's default values set, like an port or IO address. If the variables contain the default values, then perform autodetection (explained elsewhere). Otherwise, keep the current value. This will be made clear later on.

Lastly, there's a macro function, MODULE_PARM_DESC(), that is used to document arguments that the module can take. It takes two parameters: a variable name and a free form string describing that variable.

Example 2-7. hello-5.c

 *  hello-5.c - Demonstrates command line argument passing to a module.
#include <linux/module.h>
#include <linux/moduleparam.h>
#include <linux/kernel.h>
#include <linux/init.h>
#include <linux/stat.h>

MODULE_AUTHOR("Peter Jay Salzman");

static short int myshort = 1;
static int myint = 420;
static long int mylong = 9999;
static char *mystring = "blah";
static int myintArray[2] = { -1, -1 };
static int arr_argc = 0;

 * module_param(foo, int, 0000)
 * The first param is the parameters name
 * The second param is it's data type
 * The final argument is the permissions bits, 
 * for exposing parameters in sysfs (if non-zero) at a later stage.

module_param(myshort, short, S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR | S_IRGRP | S_IWGRP);
MODULE_PARM_DESC(myshort, "A short integer");
module_param(myint, int, S_IRUSR | S_IWUSR | S_IRGRP | S_IROTH);
MODULE_PARM_DESC(myint, "An integer");
module_param(mylong, long, S_IRUSR);
MODULE_PARM_DESC(mylong, "A long integer");
module_param(mystring, charp, 0000);
MODULE_PARM_DESC(mystring, "A character string");

 * module_param_array(name, type, num, perm);
 * The first param is the parameter's (in this case the array's) name
 * The second param is the data type of the elements of the array
 * The third argument is a pointer to the variable that will store the number 
 * of elements of the array initialized by the user at module loading time
 * The fourth argument is the permission bits
module_param_array(myintArray, int, &arr_argc, 0000);
MODULE_PARM_DESC(myintArray, "An array of integers");

static int __init hello_5_init(void)
	int i;
	printk(KERN_INFO "Hello, world 5\n=============\n");
	printk(KERN_INFO "myshort is a short integer: %hd\n", myshort);
	printk(KERN_INFO "myint is an integer: %d\n", myint);
	printk(KERN_INFO "mylong is a long integer: %ld\n", mylong);
	printk(KERN_INFO "mystring is a string: %s\n", mystring);
	for (i = 0; i < (sizeof myintArray / sizeof (int)); i++)
		printk(KERN_INFO "myintArray[%d] = %d\n", i, myintArray[i]);
	printk(KERN_INFO "got %d arguments for myintArray.\n", arr_argc);
	return 0;

static void __exit hello_5_exit(void)
	printk(KERN_INFO "Goodbye, world 5\n");


I would recommend playing around with this code:

satan# insmod hello-5.ko mystring="bebop" mybyte=255 myintArray=-1
mybyte is an 8 bit integer: 255
myshort is a short integer: 1
myint is an integer: 20
mylong is a long integer: 9999
mystring is a string: bebop
myintArray is -1 and 420

satan# rmmod hello-5
Goodbye, world 5

satan# insmod hello-5.ko mystring="supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" \
> mybyte=256 myintArray=-1,-1
mybyte is an 8 bit integer: 0
myshort is a short integer: 1
myint is an integer: 20
mylong is a long integer: 9999
mystring is a string: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
myintArray is -1 and -1

satan# rmmod hello-5
Goodbye, world 5

satan# insmod hello-5.ko mylong=hello
hello-5.o: invalid argument syntax for mylong: 'h'

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