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Old 10-08-2012, 11:41 AM   #1
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Texas, USA
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Kernel Hardware compatibility

Is there any reason that in 2012, there are still some distro releases that boot into black screen due to graphics driver problems or incorrect detection of screen resolutions?

I am fully aware of hdwr vendors reluctance to release drivers and/or specs however, many times, one distro WILL correctly identify proper parameters which indicates to me that someone somewhere has figured out that driver or module. Couple questions:

1. Where do kernel developers go to get these drivers? There must be lists or packages that are freely available. Can't imagine that thousands of drivers ( mainly for graphics, printers, network connectivity, sound) are collected piecemeal, especially by individuals or small teams who roll their owm distro.

2. Since existing hdwr is essentially frozen in time isn't there a database of supported hdwr listed by the kernel that supports it? There are plenty of hdwr compatibility charts listed by computer but they don't tell you which kernel supports it.

3. I don't think all drivers are carried in kernel, so where do most distros carry the additional driver modules?

Purpose of this is b/c hdwr is a moving target and kernel is constantly dropping old hdwr for new, so it would be nice to have a reference to look at which hdwr a particular kernel supports.

Old 10-08-2012, 03:54 PM   #2
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Most video hardware drivers are built as modules, and most modules are available in a default install for the most common cards/chipsets (at least the open source versions). Problems arise when;

A) Hardware is too new for there to be available drivers (Like the newest NVidia cards & Intel HD 4200s, etc).
B) Developers allow regressions to creep in for a driver that have been fixed,
C) A user is trying to get display resolution on an unsupported screen geometry (like 1366x768 that many LCD TVs use), sometimes related to B, in that distros may drop automatic resolution setup support for a previously working chipset/display setup (Ubuntu 12.04, for example), and
D) Hardware that does not play nicely with standards Like EDID (again, TVs are a big culprit).

Kernel Devs get their drivers from the manufacturers or by reverse engineering the hardware. Most distros will carry those drivers that are not installed by default in their respective repositories. So, they're usually an apt-get or yum away, with maybe a little setup besides...

If you want to know what hardware is supported by default in a particular kernel, you have to have a look at. that kernel's kconfig file... But going about that, is not a topic for a thread like this... It would pretty much deserve it's own thread, distro specific.

Last edited by JaseP; 10-08-2012 at 03:55 PM.


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