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Re: drivers in linux

Andrew Sackville-West wrote:
no not really. and there is no need for one. upon booting, the linux kernel digs
through all the hardware it can find on the system and attempts to
automatically load the appropriate "drivers" (typically called
modules). If it can't find a module for a particular piece of
hardware, it will continue its boot process quite happily. Later in
the boot process a special hardware detection system called udev comes
into play and it does the same thing -- looks at the hardware and
attempts to load modules for it. A well configured kernel will have
already done all this and udev won't do much upon booting. Later, if
you plug in a usb device, for example, udev will notice it and
automatically load the drivers for you :).
For the vast majority of *supported* hardware, there is no need to
install drivers. They come with the kernel and install themselves. It
will be frustrating and confusing at first, but later, when you get
the hang of it, you'll marvel at how you did windows before. For a few
bits of *supported* hardware, you will find that the drivers are not
in the kernel or its modules. In that case you'll have to find,
download and install the modules. Its not hard. Ask here and we'll
SO, for your network card. Put the card in, boot the system, watch the
messages scroll by. if you see anything starting "ethx" where x is
some number, usually 0, then you've got a network card detected by the
kernel and probably running. You can confirm this many ways. I usually
ping www.google.com as its the best check of whether its working or
If the boot messages went by too fast, you can see them again with the
"dmesg" command. It will scroll them all by again really fast. so try
"dmesg | less" which will give you a pager to view it with. type "q"
to exit. you can scan for messages about "eth" as above.
more ways to see your network card: the command "lspci" (as in "list
pci bus") will show you all the devices on the pci bus and what the
kernel thinks they are. If the network card is there, it will be
obvious. okay, have fun. the best way to do this is to just do it.

Thanks to Andrew for this. I have posted a modified version on the NewbieDOC FAQ wiki: http://newbiedoc.berlios.de/wiki/FAQs#How_do_drivers_work_in_Debian.3F


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