This topic has been discussed extensively on both
LIRC and Linux-IrDA
mailing lists. Just check the according links to the
mailing list archives for more information. Also
Werner Heuser has gathered very useful information
on this topic in part
II of his Linux InfraRed-HOWTO.
Everybody agrees that real support for consumer IR
applications can only be developed using chipsets
that support CIR (consumer IR). Below is a list of
chipsets known to meet this condition.
As I said on the main page it also works with
dongles connected to the serial port but this
requires some tweaking of the IrDA physical layer
protocol. So you can expect limitations to that
approach. From my experience transmitting of IR
signals is more likely to work than receiving and
actually there seems to exist software that uses
this method (OmniRemote,
Software for IrDA Devices).
Update: Actually Milan Pikula has written a
driver that uses SIR to emulate CIR. In fact if this
really works it should be easy to adjust his driver
to use the Tekram IRMate IR-210. The code
to initialize the dongle is already available.
Recent mails to the Linux-IrDA list also showed that
the ACTiSYS ACT-IR200L
serial dongle will be able to at least send consumer
IR signals as it uses the CS8130 Multi-Standard Infrared Transceiver from
Cirrus Logic. I hope that someone will write a LIRC
compatible driver soon.
Please note that for technical reasons it's not
possible to use USB IrDA dongles with LIRC.