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Linux Device Drivers Demystified
September 23, 1999
People new to Linux often hear that it has excellent support for all kinds of cards and that the device drivers are stable and fast. Sometimes, though, setting up devices under Linux is often not all plug-and-play. Below we try to demystify Linux device drivers, with the aim of smoothing device selection during installs.
Everything is a file
Skip this section if you aren't interested in the inside technical details.
Many modern operating systems have a method for installing special files to make hardware work. On the Apple Mac, for instance, the drivers for the hardware devices are usually special files that go in the System Extensions folder. Linux also has special files that it uses to control the hardware.
Linux device drivers work through special kernel code that directly accesses the hardware. To make the services that the card or other device offers available to normal user programs, the kernel uses the special files in
One end of the file in