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Lab::Measurement::Backends - Back end packages (hardware drivers) for Lab::Measurement


version 3.901

National Instruments NI-VISA back-end

The National Instruments NI-VISA library and the associated GPIB drivers are widely used and proven code for accessing lab devices, and our clear recommendation for controlling lab devices under Microsoft Windows. For the respective downloads, please follow the provided links. Linux support is available, however, installation can be complicated, and there is no support for USB-GPIB adaptors under Linux. A lot of tips and tricks can be found at the NI Linux User Forum. In general, National Instruments offers excellent documentation. We especially recommend the NI-VISA User Manual, the NI-VISA Programmer Reference Manual these references of VISA resource names and VISA error codes.

For using the NI VISA library, you will have to also install our separate Perl package Lab::VISA providing the Perl language bindings. Detailed installation instructions are provided in that package.

Linux-GPIB back-end

The Linux-GPIB project aims at providing free and open-source hardware drivers and a GPIB library with an API compatible to the NI drivers (without VISA). The package code is considered stable and feature-complete; new releases occur mainly as response to changes in the kernel driver interface.

Installing Linux-GPIB

Note that on Gentoo Linux-GPIB is packaged. On distros where this is not the case, you can use the following steps. For more details, consult Linux-GPIB's INSTALL file. This guide was tested on Debian 11 with Linux-GPIB versions 4.3.4.

  • Install the kernel headers, gcc and make. On Debian you can run this command:

     root # apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential
  • Download the Linux-GPIB sources and build with the usual procedure:

     user $ tar -xf linux-gpib-4.3.4.tar.gz

    Inside of this download folder you will find two more archives, the kernel drivers as well as the user drivers. Untar those as well and navigate inside of the kernel forlder first.

     user $ tar -xf linux-gpib-kernel-4.3.4.tar.gz
     user $ tar -xf linux-gpib-user-4.3.4.tar.gz
     user $ cd linux-gpib-kernel-4.3.4
     user $ ./configure
     user $ make

    install the library and kernel drivers as root:

     root # make install

    now navigate to the linux-gpib-user-4.3.4 directory.

     user $ cd .. && cd linux-gpib-user-4.3.4
     user $ ./configure --sysconfdir=/etc
     user $ make
     root # make install

    Setting --sysconfdir=/etc will ensure that proper udev rules are installed into /etc/udev/rules.d/ which are required to automatically configure NI-USB-GPIB adapters. Also, the rules will give users in the gpib group have proper permission to use the gpib boards.

    By default the shared lib is installed into /usr/local/lib/. If this is not part of the system's shared library search path, add /usr/local/lib to /et/ and run ldconfig as root.

  • Stay inside of the linux-gpib-user-4.3.4 directory and install the Perl bindings:

     root # cpanm ./language/perl

    if you are using plenv or don't use the standard Perl installation be sure to execute the cpanm command with the user profile and NOT as the root user:

     user $ cpanm ./language/perl
  • Add your user to the gpib group.

     root # adduser user gpib

    to create a new user group use

     root # groupadd gpib
  • Troubleshooting

    In case you are getting an error message like

     user $ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

    check if the kernel headers are installed properly. Try running

     user $ sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)

    again, consider adding your kernel version manually. The latest kernel can be found under /lib/modules. Furthermore, running

     user $ sudo ldconfig

    and a reboot can work some magic.

Example Configuration for the GPIB-USB-HS controller

NI's GPIB-USB-HS is supported out of the box by Linux-GPIB without any additional proprietary firmware.

You need a configuration file /etc/gpib.conf:

 interface {
        minor = 0       /* board index, minor = 0 uses /dev/gpib0, minor = 1 uses /dev/gpib1, etc. */
        board_type = "ni_usb_b" /* type of interface board being used */
        pad = 0 /* primary address of interface             */
        sad = 0 /* secondary address of interface           */
        timeout = T3s   /* timeout for commands */

        eos = 0x0a      /* EOS Byte, 0xa is newline and 0xd is carriage return */
        set-reos = yes  /* Terminate read if EOS */
        set-bin = no    /* Compare EOS 8-bit */
        set-xeos = no   /* Assert EOI whenever EOS byte is sent */
        set-eot = yes   /* Assert EOI with last byte on writes */

 /* settings for boards that lack plug-n-play capability */
        base = 0        /* Base io ADDRESS                  */
        irq  = 0        /* Interrupt request level */
        dma  = 0        /* DMA channel (zero disables)      */

        master = yes    /* interface board is system controller */

Now, you can use the interactive ibtest and ibterm programs to test the installation.

Zurich Instruments LabOne

Lab::Measurement provides initial support for devices from Zurich Instruments. These can be used on both Linux and Windows. This requires that the LabOne API, provided by the vendor, is installed on the measurement PC. Moreover, you need the Perl module Lab::Zhinst, which provides the Perl bindings to the LabOne API. The Lab::Zhinst documentation covers all steps of the installation.


This software is copyright (c) 2023 by the Lab::Measurement team; in detail:

  Copyright 2016       Simon Reinhardt
            2017       Andreas K. Huettel, Simon Reinhardt
            2021       Fabian Weinelt, Simon Reinhardt

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.