Almost everyone is familiar with Microsoft Windows, as it is installed on the computers of many home-based users. While it is certainly the most popular, Windows isn't the only operating system available. There are several other choices, including Mac OS X, Solaris and Linux.
The Linux operating system comes in many different variations. Some of the most popular versions include Debian, Fedora and Redhat among others. Just like any other operating system, Linux comes with a number of device drivers. This means that there may be a time when hardware devices on your computer stop working properly and require driver updates. Although a device could experience problems for various reasons, an outdated or dysfunctional driver is usually the culprit.
Where to Begin Updating Linux Device Drivers
In order to update the drivers for your Linux hardware, you must find out what type of device it is. Once you have these details, go online and head to the manufacturer's website. Although mainly used in the network setting, Linux is becoming more popular as a desktop system, making it easier to find device drivers. Most hardware device manufacturers allow you to download device drivers from the support section of their websites. Regardless of the manufacturer, it is important to download drivers that are specific to the Linux operating system. If you download and install Windows drivers, your hardware will not work on your Linux system.
Because Linux is an open-source system, many of its device drivers are available in open-source variations. The open-source nature allows any developer to create device drivers and freely distribute them. These drivers can typically be downloaded from various open-source communities online. With proprietary software and hardware components, you are required to download the device drivers from the manufacturer.
How to Install Linux Device Drivers
Device drivers for the Linux operating system are usually distributed as source code in zip archives. This calls for you to unzip the compressed archive to access the appropriate files. In order to accomplish this, you must use a compatible unzip application and manually compile the source code. While Linux is generally more complex, this task can be easily completed by basic computer users.
Ensuring Compatibility Before a New Purchase
If you plan to add a new hardware device to your Linux computer, it is important to make sure it is compatible with the operating system before making a purchase. This can be done in two ways: you can either check with the manufacturer or visit the KeyLabs website. KeyLabs is an organization that tests numerous applications and devices to determine their compatibility with various systems, Linux included. This company has tested so many hardware devices that gathering information from KeyLabs is often easier than getting it from the manufacturer's website.
Even though Linux is becoming more accepted as a desktop system, finding the right device drivers can still be a tedious undertaking. This is especially true if you are trying to integrate hardware devices that were previously used on an older Linux system. As you would expect, the process is much easier when dealing with new hardware devices, as they typically come included with installation discs that contain the appropriate drivers.