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1725 posts

Uber Geek


# 242975 22-Nov-2018 09:36
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How do device drivers work in Linux (particularly Linux Mint / Ubuntu, but I guess it's the same under other distros)? What I mean is, are you reliant on the device manufacturer making Linux drivers available and if they don't then you're stuck?

 

I'm thinking of getting an Intel NUC and I see that Intel make drivers available for Windows (graphic drivers, wifi drivers, etc). But Intel doesn't seem to make Linux drivers available.


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628 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  # 2131559 22-Nov-2018 09:48
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I have a NUC (bought about a year ago) and the only module I needed that wasn't in vanilla Ubuntu was for my TV tuner card (and even that will be in the 4.17 kernel, currently running 4.15).


6827 posts

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  # 2131561 22-Nov-2018 09:50
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Hi, Driver manager will sort this all for you, as an example below is what it shows on my machine.

 

 

Cyril


 
 
 
 




1725 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2131571 22-Nov-2018 09:56
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So either the kernel maintainers or others create the drivers when there isn't anything from the device manufacturer?


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  # 2131575 22-Nov-2018 10:06
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Hi, as I understand it the three drivers shown as NVIDA-xxx are vendor provided, I could be wrong

 

 

 

Cyril


284 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 2131637 22-Nov-2018 10:43
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MurrayM:

 

How do device drivers work in Linux (particularly Linux Mint / Ubuntu, but I guess it's the same under other distros)? What I mean is, are you reliant on the device manufacturer making Linux drivers available and if they don't then you're stuck?

 

I'm thinking of getting an Intel NUC and I see that Intel make drivers available for Windows (graphic drivers, wifi drivers, etc). But Intel doesn't seem to make Linux drivers available.

 

 

 

 

Intel usually have their drivers in the mainline kernel. You won't need to go looking and download them off the Intel site or anything. They usually have pretty good support for their NICs, GFX and CPU.




1725 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2131644 22-Nov-2018 11:02
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Varkk:

 

Intel usually have their drivers in the mainline kernel. You won't need to go looking and download them off the Intel site or anything. They usually have pretty good support for their NICs, GFX and CPU.

 

 

Great! Thanks for explaining that, I'm still really new to the whole Linux world.


1402 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2131998 22-Nov-2018 16:33
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On my very mainstream Asus motherboard Intel Pentium system with HD graphics everything works beautifully with Ubuntu.  However, some things work just that little bit better on Windows 10.  For example the sound on Windows 10 is just a little louder than on Ubuntu.  DVD playback with VLC - the colours just look a tiny bit better.  Now the sound issue, the volume I get when using Ubuntu is loud enough but only just!

 

When I fresh install Windows 10 I get a heap of updates for all sorts of things from the Logitech keyboard, the Viewsonic monitor, audio.   On my particular system Ubuntu runs very sweetly but Windows 10 just that little bit better.  I never thought I'd say that, but it is what it is.


 
 
 
 


459 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 2132312 22-Nov-2018 22:42
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amiga500:

 

On my very mainstream Asus motherboard Intel Pentium system with HD graphics everything works beautifully with Ubuntu.  However, some things work just that little bit better on Windows 10.  For example the sound on Windows 10 is just a little louder than on Ubuntu.  DVD playback with VLC - the colours just look a tiny bit better.  Now the sound issue, the volume I get when using Ubuntu is loud enough but only just!

 

 

That sounds like you have not found a volume control somewhere in Linux and your volume is limited by whatever that control is currently set to.  Have you used the "alsamixer" command from the command line to set all the volumes?

 

 

 

More generally, in Linux the driver support can be problematic, depending on what sort of devices you are talking about.  Motherboard devices are generally pretty well supported in the standard kernels.

 

Devices like Nvidia video cards require Nvidia provided drivers for full support, and Nvidia has dropped support for their older devices now.  So if you have an Nvidia device that requires their 304 version drivers, it will not work in the kernels being released now as Nvidia will not be updating their drivers to match the changes in the kernel code.

 

Some things like TV tuner devices are much less well supported and you always need to search to see what has support and what does not.  Some manufacturers do provide Linux support, but it can be done in a way that will never be acceptable for becoming part of the kernel driver support, so you may need to install a manufacturer provided driver, and that can mean that you will have to re-install that driver (usually involving recompiling it) every time the kernel is updated.  And once the device is no longer sold, the manufacturer may not keep their driver up to date with the latest kernel changes and the driver may stop working.  My TBS TV tuners (TBS6909 and TBS6209) require compiling and installing of their version of the video4linux kernel subsystem, but they are so good that I do not mind the extra effort.  And TBS do keep on supporting their older hardware with driver updates for a long time.

 

Another example of problematic driver support I have is my laptop's keyboard.  Its LED backlights have no official support at all in Linux.  Fortunately, someone has figured out how they work and written some code to run them through their USB port, and that now works well (actually, better than in Windows as the backlight is turned on during boot, instead of having to wait until I log in under Windows).  But I had to find that code, compile it, and write the files needed to run it automatically at boot time.  And then there is the Ethernet port on my laptop.  The support for that was initially only available by patching the standard Ethernet driver for that chipset so that it recognised the new device ID number.  It took over a year before that fix made its way into the kernel and I could stop having to compile the patched driver with every kernel update.  It actually took so long I got fed up with having to do that, and learned how to automate that compile and install process using the DKMS system that does that sort of thing for the kernel.

 

For some things though, Linux has much better driver support than Windows.  Driver support generally never goes away in Linux kernels - once it is available in the kernel, it will keep on being available.  In Windows, I have met serveral old devices that used to work with XP and now have no drivers available for any supported Windows version.  But if they had a kernel driver in Linux when Windows was XP, then they still have drivers and they still work.  So an ancient printer may be useless now in Windows but usable in Linux.


1402 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2132600 23-Nov-2018 12:24
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fe31nz:

 

 

That sounds like you have not found a volume control somewhere in Linux and your volume is limited by whatever that control is currently set to.  Have you used the "alsamixer" command from the command line to set all the volumes?

 

Thanks for that tip.  Up until now I have only used the volume controls seen on the desktop or on websites such as Youtube.  I will definitely look into alsamixer and how it works.

 

Update:  I used Synaptic to install the gui version of alsamixer & the sound issue is no more!

 

 

 

 


961 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 2132698 23-Nov-2018 13:35
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I have the same problem. I'll check out that solution later tonight. Thanks!


631 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 2132720 23-Nov-2018 14:12
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MurrayM:

 

So either the kernel maintainers or others create the drivers when there isn't anything from the device manufacturer?

 

In most cases when the hardware is reasonably mainstream, someone in the kernel (or other) maintainers will aim to support that hardware regardless of what the device manufacturer does. Quite often the vendor contributes their own source code to the kernel. There are usually no problems with Intel hardware.

 

Intel has a page on Linux support for the NUC here:

 

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000005499/mini-pcs.html





#include <standard.disclaimer>




1725 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2135114 27-Nov-2018 10:58
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alexx:

 

Intel has a page on Linux support for the NUC here:

 

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000005499/mini-pcs.html

 

 

Thanks for that. At the moment they only mention their 7th gen models, I assume that the 8th gen is too new at the moment.

 

I've had some feedback from people on reddit and they confirm that it works fine.


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