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Old 03-23-2010, 09:38 AM   #1
BorisTheSpider
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Why does Linux install drivers I don't need?


This may be a question that does not belong here. I looked at all the forum headers a few times over.

Does any here know why some Linux distros install drivers for hardware that is not present on a given computer? Why would Linux install an ATI Readeon driver on a box that has an nVidia graphics chip? Why does Linux install Broadcom wireless drivers on a box that had an Intel wireless card?

It just seems kinda goofy. Anybody?
 
Old 03-23-2010, 10:20 AM   #2
smoker
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Because some people complain when their particular graphics card or network card doesn't work "out of the box". So modules for as many devices as possible are made available. The drivers just take up space because they only get loaded if they're needed.

If your graphics card breaks and you get a different one it's nice to have support without hunting a driver down.
 
Old 03-23-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
jefro
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It is how "distro's" are made. They are generic versions meant to support a wide array of machines.

You can build your system if you want to exactly your computer (more or less actually) with a few documented methods. People on this forum tend to favor Linux from scratch. A build it all form letter. I might suggest Gentoo which sort of gives you a head start.
 
Old 03-23-2010, 05:00 PM   #4
frieza
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if that seems too daunting a task you could at the very minimum go to www.kernel.org, snatch a full copy of the latest kernel and compile your own kernel with only drivers you need for your machine, careful though to retain an old copy of a working kernel available when doing this in case something goes wrong
 
Old 03-23-2010, 05:36 PM   #5
pafinator11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
This may be a question that does not belong here. I looked at all the forum headers a few times over.

Does any here know why some Linux distros install drivers for hardware that is not present on a given computer? Why would Linux install an ATI Readeon driver on a box that has an nVidia graphics chip? Why does Linux install Broadcom wireless drivers on a box that had an Intel wireless card?

It just seems kinda goofy. Anybody?
Nearly all operating systems do this. What operating system are you coming from?
 
Old 03-24-2010, 09:54 AM   #6
BorisTheSpider
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I used to use windoze, but I haven't use it since Fedora 9. I was under the assumption that windoze could detect hardware during the install and update process, and install only what is required.

I know Linux detects hardware very well. I'm aware that kernels are written to work with many devices. It just seems odd to me that if I want to install the latest kernel released by my distro (2.6.32.9.70), I must install an ATI graphics driver as a dependency, when my box does not have an ATI graphics chip. It has an nVidia chip.

While I am sure the ATI module would never load, it just seems like a waste of [whatever] to install an unneeded driver.
 
Old 03-24-2010, 06:00 PM   #7
pafinator11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
I used to use windoze, but I haven't use it since Fedora 9. I was under the assumption that windoze could detect hardware during the install and update process, and install only what is required.

I know Linux detects hardware very well. I'm aware that kernels are written to work with many devices. It just seems odd to me that if I want to install the latest kernel released by my distro (2.6.32.9.70), I must install an ATI graphics driver as a dependency, when my box does not have an ATI graphics chip. It has an nVidia chip.

While I am sure the ATI module would never load, it just seems like a waste of [whatever] to install an unneeded driver.
Windows has generic drivers for just about everything. It also has more specific drivers for certain things, especially graphics.

If you think about it, for most people, the graphics driver is the last thing you would want to go without. On linux, if the ATI driver wasn't there and you swapped the nvidia card for an ati, you would be stuck at the command line.

Most computers are built with excessive hard drive space at this point.
There's two approaches to this issue...
1. Everything should be as a efficient as possible
2. If the resources are there, why let them go to waste?

Personally I'm in the #2 camp. I would welcome them putting every possible driver on my computer. With a terrabyte of storage, I can gladly accept a gig of drivers for the convenience of just popping in any device and it working.

If you're looking for more efficiency, most distros have a pretty in-depth advanced installer where you can select and deselect packages.
 
Old 03-24-2010, 06:08 PM   #8
Raveolution
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I agree with what's said here but I can see part of Boris's points. If he has a smaller hard drive or is installing Linux on something like a pen drive, this could be a major annoyance, although I am not sure what all gets installed on a pen drive so YMMV.

Otherwise the best thing to do is, for instance, remove the ATI drivers, and other drivers which are of no use.

Hopefully if you have an OS like RedHat you can sudo and use "rpm -e <useless driver>" or better yet, "yum remove <useless driver>".

Hope this helps!
 
Old 03-24-2010, 06:34 PM   #9
jefro
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BorisTheSpider. You have a choice. You can build the very fastest possible system from scratch. You can choose all points of the OS if you wish. Your selection of a generic "distro" is the reason for your more than needed drivers.
 
Old 03-25-2010, 09:23 AM   #10
BorisTheSpider
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I appreciate everyone's input, however, it is not about hard drive space or device swap-ablity. I am certainly no Linux builder. I realize that Linux doesn't have different distros for every different computer, but my computer is a laptop. The only way I'd be swapping out my graphics chip is if I was a microelectronics technician who could unsolder a GPU and replace it with another.

If I had a desktop, or a laptop with a removable GPU, and was about to exchange GPUs, procedure dictates that we look on the internet for the driver of our chip. This is a generic procedure, as most Linux users will simply use YUM to find the driver they need.

This brings me back to my original question. Linux can detect the hardware resident on someone's computer, but still installs many "useless" drivers. Why is this?

As I said in a previous post, I am aware that Linux kernels are written to work with a plethora of hardware, but why, when the hardware detection found certain resident hardware, are the "useless" drivers installed.

And why must I install a useless driver as a dependency for a new distro released kernel, on a running system that does not use this useless driver.

You know, we all know these people, the ones at school or the ones at work, that ask those questions that no one else knows (or needs) the answer to. I'm one of those weirdos. The one who weeds through a mountain of speculation to get to the truth. What's the truth?
 
Old 03-25-2010, 10:08 AM   #11
smoker
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A lot of drivers are complied into the kernel. Do you think linux users should be forced to recompile their kernel if they want to add support for a different driver ? Trying to get v4l running in past days was a nightmare. Now v4l (and v4l2) are already included in the kernel with many types of tv card accounted for. Are those drivers useless ? How do you know which one you need ?

Try writing to Linus and asking why the kernel is the way it is.

You are of course free to remove any driver files you want, after the install, but the install has to supply them to be sure of providing support.

Last edited by smoker; 03-25-2010 at 10:10 AM.
 
Old 03-25-2010, 09:06 PM   #12
Hammett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post
This brings me back to my original question. Linux can detect the hardware resident on someone's computer, but still installs many "useless" drivers. Why is this?

As I said in a previous post, I am aware that Linux kernels are written to work with a plethora of hardware, but why, when the hardware detection found certain resident hardware, are the "useless" drivers installed.

And why must I install a useless driver as a dependency for a new distro released kernel, on a running system that does not use this useless driver.
It's a long long time I do not use Fedora, but what I remember when I installed F1, F2 and F3 is that the installer NEVER compiled a kernel suited to what Anaconda detected when i put the 1st CD. What this means is that even though most Linux distros can detect all the hardware you have on you PC/laptop, it does not actually build a kernel for that machine, but installs a very wide and generic kernel from the CD you are installing from. It's the only way that distro will "fit" in most computers, by making a huge kernel with loads of options enabled.

I grew tired of this as well, and then I decided to built an efficient system, suited to my machine only, that's when I installed Gentoo. Gentoo Linux also comes with a very big kernel in the CD, BUT you have to build your kernel for your system in the process of install. That's the big difference between Gentoo and other distros (among other things of course), but that way you get only what you want.

From my point of view you have 3 options:
1.- Leave everything as it is now
2.- Stip Fedora until you get what you want (delete software you don't want, recompile kernel and the such)
3.- Get another distro that can give you more control over what you install on your computer.
 
Old 03-25-2010, 09:22 PM   #13
evo2
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It is a decision made by whoever wrote the installer. Basically it is easiest to simply install drivers for common hardware and then use what is needed. The installer could be written in such a way as to remove unused drivers but generally they are not, for all the reasons discussed above.

Evo2.
 
Old 03-26-2010, 12:16 AM   #14
BorisTheSpider
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Hammett and evo2 have perfectly answered this useless question. Thank you both.
 
  


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