I am developing a remote monitoring device using a Raspberry Pi. In order to provide me with alerts it has 3G dongle in it. However, due to power supply instability the dongle will sometimes change device number. So, for instance, when it boots the 3G dongle might show as (using lsusb):

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 12d1:1464 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd

But after a number of hours have passed the device number will increase to, say:

Bus 001 Device 007: ID 12d1:1464 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd

So my question is what is the limit on the device number? Can it keep increasing to 999 or even beyond or is there a lower limit, such as 256 or 128? With this information I can code in a check on the device number and force a reboot if it gets close to the limit.

2 Answers 2


USB uses 7bit addressing so you will be able to address 127 devices. Of course the bigger issue is power when using USB devices, if there isn't enough power they won't work.

  • Thanks, Optichip - I suspected it wouldn't go to 128. As to the power problem I am monitoring it, but so far no problem other than this one. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 14:45

Linux device numbering on a USB bus maintains information on "next device number to be assigned". This is naturally updated each time a new device is connected.

As long as the device number of the currently connected device is less than 127, the new "next device number" will just be the current device number plus one. At "current device number" 127, the "next device number" is reset to 1.

Device allocation also checks whether the number proposed to be assigned is already in use, and if so, will revert to checking for successive device numbers until a free one is found.

So, all in all, there is a device number limit, but upon reaching it, the numbering will gracefully roll over.

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