USB passthrough for QEMU gets error “qemu: could not add USB device”

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Problem :

When trying to run arch linux with a usb passthrough using qemu on my macbook pro retina 2015, running osx Yosemite 10.10., using the command:

sudo qemu-system-i386 -cpu core2duo -cdrom
archlinux-2015.11.01-dual.iso -boot order=d -m 1G -usbdevice

I keep getting the error:

qemu: could not add USB device ‘host:0x13fe:0x5500’

While, in system information, the USB device has the vendor id “0x13fe” and the product id “0x5500”.

I get the same vendor and product id using the codeblock (in bash)

`system_profiler SPUSBDataType     | awk '
      /Product ID:/{p=$3}
      /Vendor ID:/{v=$3}
      /Manufacturer:/{sub(/.*: /,""); m=$0}
      /Location ID:/{sub(/.*: /,""); printf("%s:%s %s (%s)n", v, p, $0, m);}

On the qemu documentation, it says the correct form to pass through a USB is


So I believe I’m doing it correctly.

I’m running qemu

Am I doing something wrong here?

Solution :

I’m not sure why you are getting that error, but you’d barely want to use -usbdevice anyway, since it can only attach a device in “full-speed” mode (12M), even if it is a “high-speed” (480M) device on the host side:

enter image description here

It may not even work at all if you are attaching a “superspeed” (5000M) device (xHCI enabled on the host side):

enter image description here

So instead, you would want the more modern and generic -device usb-host approach, with an emulated host controller of your choice (e.g. -device nec-usb-xhci):

enter image description here

It should also work for “high-speed” (480M) devices:

enter image description here

as well as “full-speed” (12M) devices:

enter image description here

Possbile choices of emulated host controller are:

[tom@localhost ~]$ qemu-system-x86_64 -device help |& grep usb.*hci
name "ich9-usb-ehci1", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-ehci2", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci1", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci2", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci3", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci4", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci5", bus PCI
name "ich9-usb-uhci6", bus PCI
name "nec-usb-xhci", bus PCI
name "piix3-usb-uhci", bus PCI
name "piix4-usb-uhci", bus PCI
name "usb-ehci", bus PCI
name "vt82c686b-usb-uhci", bus PCI

[tom@localhost ~]$ qemu-system-x86_64 -device help |& grep ohci
name "pci-ohci", bus PCI, desc "Apple USB Controller"
name "sysbus-ohci", bus System, desc "OHCI USB Controller"

nec-usb-xhci should work best and fine in most cases.

Btw, there are also ways other than vendorid+productid to specify which device you want to attach with -device usb-host. For example, hostbus+hostaddr:

enter image description here

Or, hostbus+hostport:

enter image description here

Which are handy when there are multiple devices of the same model in the system.


Most likely it’s because ‘-usbdevice host’ is for Linux only and can’t be use on osx.

  Pass through the host device identified by bus.addr (Linux only). 
  Pass through the host device identified by vendor_id:product_id (Linux only). 

I had the same problem on my laptop. You can use -hdb /dev/sdb instead of -usb -usbdevice ... as following:

sudo qemu-system-i386 ubuntu16.img --enable-kvm -monitor stdio -m 2048 -hdb /dev/sdb -vga cirrus -vnc :0

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