How to use the gnupg card with an akasa smart card reader?

David Mohr damailings at
Fri Aug 27 20:04:22 CEST 2010

On 08/27/2010 04:36 AM, Chris Knadle wrote:
> On Thursday 26 August 2010 16:52:24 David Mohr wrote:
>> Hi,
>> I recently bought a gnupg smart card (kudos to the organizers of
>> Froscon). I own an internal smart card reader made by akasa (AK-ICR-05).
>> Unfortunately it doesn't work with gnupg out of the box, and I have no
>> idea how to get it going.
>> I contacted the manufacturer and of course they don't have Linux support
>> but they were able to tell me that it uses an RTS5161 chipset. I wasn't
>> able to find anything using google about it...
>> lsusb -v says:
>> ---SNIP---
>> Bus 001 Device 002: ID 0bda:0161 Realtek Semiconductor Corp. Mass
> ...
> What version of gnupg are you using, and what Linux version/distro are you 
> running?

I'm running gnupg 1.4.10 on Debian sid.

> In the meantime... someone was able to get this device /almost/ working:
> Note that this was done using a Linux kernel version 2.6.31 on Ubuntu 9.10

I had found that report but thought the guy was using a different reader
afterall since it was identified as MSI StarReader.

But your pointer caused me to try it again, and I found out that I
didn't have pcscd installed! Without this, pcsc_scan seems to be pretty
useless. I'm sure there is a reason not to have a dependency on there in
Debian, but it would have been pretty helpful in my case :-). I must
have overlooked that package since it was mentioned on the linked
ubuntuforum post.

Now I get some sensible output:

% gpg --card-status
gpg: detected reader `MSI StarReader SMART [Smart Card Reader Interface]
(20070818000000000) 00 00'

> Apparently this same RTS5161 chip is also in some IR remote control devices.
> I did some digging to try to figure out when the device was supported by 
> GNU/Linux, which seems to happen on Debian/Ubuntu via the 'usbutils' package.
> As best I can tell, device 0bda:0161 was added to Greg Kroah-Hartman's git 
> usbutils repository (at URL git:// in commit 
> f7c66c505dc470c841792f19901ef901308168a7 by David Brownwell on Jun 5, 2008.
> So since it's been in the usb.ids since June, 2008, any relatively recent 
> usbutils package that's newer than that should at least support the chip... at 
> least in theory.

Thanks for doing some digging. Sometimes another little hint is all
that's required! :-)

I'll post again sometimes soon to see if the card _actually_ worked.


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