Device Driver

Device drivers are a set of procedures which allows an operating system to control any hardware devices installed. The driver allows the operating system to use the hardware without knowing how it works, but talks through a standard interface, the registers of a device controller, which abstracts from implementation of the hardware and that it only considers the conceptual. In this way different hardware built by different manufacturers can be used interchangeably.

It follows that a driver is specific in terms of both hardware and driver, both from the point of view of the operating system it is written. You can not use drivers written for one operating system on a different, because the interface is generally different. The driver is usually written by the manufacturer of the hardware device, since it requires a thorough understanding of the hardware to write a working driver. Sometimes, the drivers are written by third parties on the basis of technical documentation issued by the manufacturer, if available.

Kind of drivers

There are drivers of many types, depending on the type of hardware that must drive and especially the operating system on which they run.

In embedded systems, where all software is a unique program compiled and loaded into ROM, the driver is nothing more than a routine program that interfaces with the hardware to drive.
Similarly, with a monolithic kernel operating systems (like Linux), the driver is a module compiled with the kernel. The Linux kernel usually supports tens of thousands of devices natively, usually so most of the hardware is recognized immediately, but if a device is not supported by the latter can not use it. The advantage of this approach is that the available drivers are supervised and tested by the developers of the kernel, and thus provide maximum efficiency and stability.

In operating systems like Microsoft Windows, the driver is a binary file that is dynamically loaded by the kernel. In this case, you can add a new device and the kernel will simply load the appropriate driver file. The advantage of this approach is usually the “almost safe” to be able to use certain hardware as they are the same producers to supply it. The disadvantage may not be the total optimization or stability of a driver, much less that the hardware manufacturer to continue to provide drivers of old devices not more sales for new versions of Windows (as was the case for the new Windows Seven) .

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