Re: Are All Drives Installed .
On Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 02:36:02PM -0700, Arun Mathai wrote:
> I own a Dell e6420
Google says this is a laptop, released in years 2010-2012.
> , and i had installed debian buster (mate).But the
> brightness and wifi drivers and i assume the hdmi drivers were not
> installed. How can i know that all the drivers for my device is installed.
The typo in the Subject: is a bit unfortunate, but we can work with
The first thing you need to know is the difference between driver
A driver is a chunk of code that runs inside the kernel, often loaded
on demand as a kernel module. Most drivers are included in the kernel
packages that you've already installed. Some drivers have to be built
from source code on your system, using headers that match your kernel.
Firmware is a chunk of code that runs inside a device. It's loaded
from a file on your disk, and uploaded into the device at boot time.
The kernel doesn't know or care what the firmware does; the kernel only
needs to know its name.
When it comes to firmware, you can usually run "dmesg | grep -i firmware"
to see what firmware files the kernel wants to load, and which ones it
failed to load, and which ones it succeeded in loading. Given the
firmware filename from the kernel, you can do a package file search
to figure out which non-free package contains that firmware (if any).
Then, once you know what package to install, you simply use
"apt install packagename" to install it.
When you say "(mate)", this tells me you most likely used one of the
semi-official Debian Live installer images. Not the standard netinst
image, and definitely not the unofficial netinst-plus-nonfree-firmware
As such, you've got a system that's 100% Free (as in Libre), and does
not include any non-free firmware or drivers.
Sadly, almost all computers sold today require some non-free firmware
to work properly. *Especially* laptops, and *MOST* especially wireless
network interfaces. Wireless is the *worst* when it comes to Freedom.
In order to get your non-free devices working correctly, there are a
few steps to follow:
0) Make sure you actually have network repository lines for Debian
in your /etc/apt/sources.list. If you did an install without a
working network, you may not have a working sources.list file,
because this part of the installer was written by people who
are completely out of touch with the user base.
1) Add " contrib non-free" to each network repository line in
/etc/apt/sources.list and then run "apt update".
Steps 0 and 1 together would give you a sources.list that looks
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian-security buster/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster-updates main contrib non-free
If your network didn't work during installation, you can just remove
*everything* in the sources.list file and replace it with those
three lines. Don't forget to run "apt update".
2) Identify the hardware. For most built-in devices, you can run
"lspci -nn". Don't forget the -nn option, as this adds the PCI ID
code to the output, and that's the *only* way to be absolutely
sure what the hardware actually is. Vendors love to change the
hardware but keep the model number the same, so you can't count
on model numbers alone.
For USB devices, you would normally use "lsusb".
3) Figure out what firmware and/or drivers are required for that
hardware. This is the hard part. It's something you can Google
for, given the PCI ID and model number and the key word "Debian".
Other people who've dealt with your hardware in the past are
likely to have posted about it *somewhere* on the Internet, and
you can simply dig up their past advice.
Or, you can post the "lspci -nn" or "lsusb" output for the device
here, and it's pretty likely that someone will know how to deal
For your video issues, on a laptop this old, it's possible that you
may only need to add some non-free firmware, and that may fix
everything. Or, if it's an nvidia chipset, you may need to use
a non-free driver instead of the Free driver. Or it could be one of
those "Optimus" horror shows, with both an Intel chipset and an nvidia
chipset, in which case you are screwed.
We won't know until we see the lspci -nn output.
For your wireless interface issues, you could need a whole non-free
driver, or you could simply need firmware. Some of the drivers aren't
even in Debian, and have to be installed from outside sources. Wireless
is the *worst*.