Use a general purpose input/output interface on Linux computers and laptops.


© Lead Image © Fernando Gregory Milan,

© Lead Image © Fernando Gregory Milan,

Article from Issue 258/2022

The general purpose input/output interface is not just for small-board computers anymore: You can use GPIO on your Linux desktop or laptop, too, through the USB port.

I am impressed and intrigued by the GPIO (general purpose input/output) capability of the Raspberry Pi. The GPIO makes it easy for a Raspberry Pi user to control real-world electronic gadgets like lights and servomotors.

Wouldn't it be great if you could do the same thing with an everyday Linux PC? You can. The Future Technology Devices International Ltd. (FTDI) FT232H device [1] provides GPIO capabilities (as well as various serial protocols) to regular, non-Raspberry Pi Linux desktops and laptops through a USB port. You can buy the FT232H device from Adafruit for $15.

In a previous issue of this magazine, I developed a simple application for the Pi that used the GPIO [2]. In this article, I rewrite my Raspberry Pi application to run on Intel desktop and laptop systems with the help of the FTDI FT232H device. This simple example will give you a taste for how you can use the FT232H to bring GPIO capabilities to a standard, Intel-based Linux computer.


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