Virtual Bluetooth® keyboard and mouse

Update (2012-06-27) - see bottom of page

What is this about?

The hidclient program makes a Bluetooth® technology equipped computer appear as a Bluetooth® keyboard and mouse device to other machines. Input events (like keystrokes and mouse movements) of the locally attached input devices will be forwarded to another machine via the Bluetooth® link.
For the counterpart (which might be a Linux PC, a Win PC, a PDA...) there is no technical difference to "real" Bluetooth® input devices.

What will I need?

  • A Linux PC (or laptop, possibly a PDA would do...?) that runs the Bluez Software.
    Most distributions should supply this.
  • A Bluetooth® dongle (USB-Stick...) for this machine
  • Another device that is able to handle Bluetooth® input devices: A PC, PDA or similar (not necessarily running Linux!)
  • The bluez header files (for compiling the sources)
  • The hidclient source code (see below).

How to?

  • Dowload and uncompress hidclient files:
    tar -xjf hidclient-20060725.tar.bz2
  • Compile program, copy other files to the correct places:
    cp hidclient /usr/local/bin
    cp hid-sdp-record.bin /etc/bluetooth/
  • Make sure that no HID daemon is running:
    killall hidd
    Both hidclient and hidd regularly use the same "port" (PSM), thus you need to stop hidd first. It is not the specification that requires the imperative usage of the same port number, but there are devices that refuse to communicate over non-standard PSM. There also was a version of a Windows-stack that would not work with alternative PSM numbers.
  • Change to a text console (optional) by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 (...F6)
    On those text-only consoles stray input events will do the least harm: While running hidclient the Linux machine will also receive the mouse and keyboard events while forwarding them.
  • Start hidclient
    You should get a list of event-devices that hidclient will accept input events from, along with a notice that hidclient waits for an incoming connection.
  • Activate a "device search" on the other machine - it should detect the virtual keyboard. Use the regular mechanism for connection the remote machine to the hidclient PC - this should also give a "connection" message on the hidclient machine.
  • Press keys, move the mouse: This should yield reaction on the remote machine.
  • To disconnect (from the hidclient side) press the "Pause" key on the keyboard (might be labelled "Interrupt" instead). This is the means for cleanly shutting down the connection.
    To stop hidclient at the same time you can also use the key combination LeftCtrl+LeftAlt+Pause.

Where to get the necessary files?


What am I allowed to do with this program?

Well, you may use it, read the source code, give the files to other people, change it - basically anything provided you stay within the limits of the GNU General Public License version 2 (or any later version, at your choice).
This program is "free software" (both as in speech and in beer), you do not need to pay any royalties for using it. Keep with the GPL.

Update (2012-07-28)

hidclient is verified to work on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS / amd64. There have been a few updates and feature additions:

  • Command-line parameter "-l" to list input devices
  • -e<NUM> to ONLY bind to device Number NUM (see -l List)
  • -x will "mute" the device(s) for X11 so you can start hidclient while having a X11 session.
  • -fFIFONAME will read data from a FIFO instead of event devices.
New source file can be found in tar archive. Slightly different installation instructions: Unpack archive. Compile hidclient.c with
gcc -o hidclient -O2 -lbluetooth -Wall hidclient.c
You don't need to copy anything into /etc/bluetooth. Might be a good idea to edit /etc/bluetooth/main.conf and set "DisabledPlugins=input" there, and "Class=0x000540" - that helps identifying the device as a "keyboard". Now run
sudo ./hidclient -l
to list the available input devices. If you have for example two usb mice and want to export only one (while working locally on the other), select the ID number from the first column. Start hidclient with
sudo ./hidclient -e4 -x
where 4 is the number of your mouse. Hidclient will wait for bluetooth connections. The mouse should stop working on the local PC, so it will not interfere with your normal computer usage while it is connected to another device.
With the -x parameter, you can ignore the "openvt" mentioned above.

The word trademark Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of the Bluetooth SIG.

© 2007 anselm martin hoffmeister - kontakt