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Old 01-27-2009, 04:26 PM   #1
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Question Hardware drivers in linux >>> are they needed???

After a windows installation, you need to install your hardware drivers. But linux doesn't require this thing (as far as i know, and i really know little of linux!). Is this because linux treats devices like files? Or does linux come with the driver of every possible hardware??

Old 01-27-2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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Basically, Linux comes with default drivers that work with most hardware. They are configured for the specific hardware during installation. There are some OEMs that write drivers for their hardware to work with Linux, and there are a few devices that are still not very Linux-friendly.

Old 01-27-2009, 04:44 PM   #3
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A lot of drivers do come with the kernel and will be loaded when the hardware is found during the installation. They will then be loaded automatically with each boot of the system as well.

Some hardware is problematic and special work is needed to load the correct driver or in some cases the driver must be gotten from the hardware manufacturer.

And there are some cases where there is no linux driver available.
Old 01-27-2009, 04:44 PM   #4
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Each distro chooses which drivers to enable (and what version) with the distros they send. So, for say the latest Ubuntu, you may have less trouble with a wireless card than Debian Etch. But, if you wanted, you could upgrade Etch or even install Lenny for pretty much the same set of drivers, or possibly even more recent versions.

So, to directly answer your question, yes, you do need drivers for Linux, but they are handled differently from Windows. In the case of Windows, the manufacturer writes it, and either gets MS to include it in their installer, or they include a disk with the device. With Linux, there are a number of groups that write the device drivers from specifications (or example code) from the manufacturers. And they do a damned good job of it, too. There are some situations where you may need to use the manufacturers driver disk, e.g. for a brand stinking new wireless where the Linux community hasn't gotten the specs (or can't get them) or simply haven't been able to get the driver written due to time constraints, but for the most part, the drivers you need come with Linux or you can upgrade and get them.

Hope this helps at least a little.
Old 01-27-2009, 06:27 PM   #5
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Always check for linux compatibility before buying hardware! Use google or sites like LQ's own HCL (hardware compatibility list). That's why such lists exist!

USB devices, TV cards, printers all have their own sites to keep up to date with what works.

General rule of thumb - most standard stuff that all PCs have- sound, video, ethernet will be supported. If your hardware is newer than your linux distro you may have problems.

I wouldn't buy a notebook without confirming linux support. Check especially for working wireless, where some big manufacturers have not been helpful in assisting development of open source drivers.
Old 01-27-2009, 06:33 PM   #6
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You can deffinitely still be hit by driver issues, main areas I notice it are some raid cards and some network cards (mainly RealTek tho supposidly they are getting alot better now?), however atleast all you have to do is find a driver, place it on a USB stick and most distributions will be happy to just use it... nothing like having to chase down a USB FDD to install a Raid Card (Windows)... thank god atleast for WinLite.


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