As far as the kernel is concerned, irLAN is for peer to peer networking, IrCOMM is for com and lpt support, while the other kernel options are for speeding up connections, like caching LSAP info, or fast RR (receiver ready) where you keep sending data even if you haven't received the acknowledgement.
As for the device drivers, there is are SIR (slow speed infrared 0->115kb/s)
and FIR (Fast speed infrared will go to 4Mbit/s or even up to 16Mbit/s). For
FIR, there is a list of chipsets to choose from and pretty much the only way to
find out is to check the Win98 driver, or try all of them one for one. The
SMC IrCC is rather popular.
Another option is to buy a dongle that plugs into the serial port in order to add SIR support to an older PC.
If you have FIR support, it will look like a network interface, but for it to work you will need to disable the serial port associated to it first: setserial /dev/ttyS2 port 0, as FIR is backward compatible with SIR, and you can't have the irda0 network device up at the same time than the tty serial port.
As far as status of completeness of the project, the kernel part is mostly done,
but there is still work needed in userland. For instance, ifconfig/route/netstat
are unaware of Ir network devices. The kernel side can be improved a bit by
having a kernel thread for Irmanager instead of a user tool which comes with irda-utils.
The setup that you get with irda-utils looks a bit like the pcmcia setup.
As for non IrDA infrared transfers, like remote controls for TVs. Lirc is
a linux package that will sample those signals and resend them through your
infrared serial port.
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