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Hardware Support

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OPERATING SYSTEMS
ASSIGNMENT #1
HARDWARE (OPERATING SYSTEM RESEARCHED: LINUX)

A common boast among Linux kernel developers is that Linux supports more devices than any other operating system in history. Indeed, device drivers account for more than half of the code in the Linux kernel. However, many devices exist that are still unsupported by Linux, and one of the best ways for a developer to get his or her code into the Linux kernel is by writing a driver for one of these. Writing a driver is also one of the most common tasks initially assigned to those hired by a company to do Linux kernel development. For these reasons, students find it particularly interesting to write a device driver as a project. Unfortunately, since our development environment involves VMs hosted on a remote server and because we are constrained to work within a ten-week quarter, it is difficult to find real devices for which students can easily write drivers. Moreover, providing devices to students might be financially infeasible, even if an appropriate device could be found. We have thus found it easiest for students to write a driver for a virtual device. Specifically, we have them implement a RAM disk driver, which allocates a large block of memory and presents it in the form of a block device
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Supported Hardware
Ubuntu does not impose hardware requirements beyond the requirements of the Linux kernel and the GNU tool-sets. Therefore, any architecture or platform to which the Linux kernel, libc, gcc, etc. have been ported, and for which an Ubuntu port exists, can run Ubuntu.
Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for AMD64, this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.
Supported Architectures
Ubuntu 12.04 supports three major architectures and several variations of each architecture known as “flavors”. One other architecture (IBM/Motorola PowerPC) has an unofficial port. Architecture | Ubuntu Designation | Subarchitecture | Flavor | Intel x86-based | i386 | | | AMD64 & Intel EM64T | amd64 | | | ARM | armel | Marvell Dove | dove | | | Freescale i.MX51 | imx51 | | | TI OMAP | omap | | | Versatile | versatile | IBM/Motorola PowerPC | powerpc | PowerMac | pmac |
CPU, Main Boards, and Video Support
CPU
Both AMD64 and Intel EM64T processors are supported.

Laptops
Laptops are also supported and nowadays most laptops work out of the box. In case a laptop contains specialized or proprietary hardware, some specific functions may not be supported.
Multiple Processors
Multiprocessor support — also called “symmetric multiprocessing” or SMP — is available for this architecture. The standard Ubuntu 12.04 kernel image has been compiled with SMP-alternatives support. This means that the kernel will detect the number of processors (or processor cores) and will automatically deactivate SMP on uniprocessor systems.
Graphics Card Support
You should be using a VGA-compatible display interface for the console terminal. Nearly every modern display card is compatible with VGA. Ancient standards such CGA, MDA, or HGA should also work, assuming you do not require X11 support. Note that X11 is not used during the installation process described in this document.
Ubuntu's support for graphical interfaces is determined by the underlying support found in X.Org's X11 system. Most AGP, PCI and PCIe video cards work under X.Org.
Network Connectivity Hardware
Almost any network interface card (NIC) supported by the Linux kernel should also be supported by the installation system; modular drivers should normally be loaded automatically. This includes most PCI and PCMCIA cards. ISDN is supported, but not during the installation.

Wireless Network Cards
Wireless networking is in general supported as well and a growing number of wireless adapters are supported by the official Linux kernel, although many of them do require firmware to be loaded. If firmware is needed, the installer will prompt you to load firmware.
Wireless NICs that are not supported by the official Linux kernel can generally be made to work under Debian GNU/Linux, but are not supported during the installation.
Support for encrypted wireless during installation is currently limited to WEP. If your access point uses stronger encryption, it cannot be used during the installation process.
If there is a problem with wireless and there is no other NIC you can use during the installation, it is still possible to install Debian GNU/Linux using a full CD-ROM or DVD image. Select the option to not configure a network and install using only the packages available from the CD/DVD. You can then install the driver and firmware you need after the installation is completed (after the reboot) and configure your network manually.
In some cases the driver you need may not be available as a Debian package. You will then have to look if there is source code available in the internet and compile the driver yourself. How to do this is outside the scope of this manual. If no Linux driver is available, your last resort is to use the ndiswrapper package, which allows you to use a Windows driver.
Braille Displays
Support for braille displays is determined by the underlying support found in brltty. Most displays work under brltty, connected via either a serial port, USB or bluetooth. Details on supported braille devices can be found on the brltty website. Ubuntu 12.04 ships with brltty version 4.1.
Hardware Speech Synthesis
Support for hardware speech synthesis devices is determined by the underlying support found in speakup. speakup only supports integrated boards and external devices connected to a serial port (no USB or serial-to-USB adapters are supported). Details on supported hardware speech synthesis devices can be found on the speakup website. Ubuntu 12.04 ships withspeakup version 3.1.4.
Peripherals and Other Hardware
Linux supports a large variety of hardware devices such as mice, printers, scanners, PCMCIA and USB devices. However, most of these devices are not required while installing the system.
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Devices Requiring Firmware
Besides the availability of a device driver, some hardware also requires so-called firmware or microcode to be loaded into the device before it can become operational. This is most common for network interface cards (especially wireless NICs), but for example some USB devices and even some hard disk controllers also require firmware.
In most cases firmware is non-free according to the criteria used by the Debian GNU/Linux project and thus cannot be included in the main distribution or in the installation system. If the device driver itself is included in the distribution and if Debian GNU/Linux legally can distribute the firmware, it will often be available as a separate package from the non-free section of the archive.
However, this does not mean that such hardware cannot be used during an installation. Starting with Debian GNU/Linux 5.0,debian-installer supports loading firmware files or packages containing firmware from a removable medium, such as a floppy disk or USB stick.
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Purchasing Hardware Specifically for GNU/Linux
There are several vendors, who ship systems with Debian or other distributions of GNU/Linux pre-installed. You might pay more for the privilege, but it does buy a level of peace of mind, since you can be sure that the hardware is well-supported by GNU/Linux.
If you do have to buy a machine with Windows bundled, carefully read the software license that comes with Windows; you may be able to reject the license and obtain a rebate from your vendor. Searching the Internet for “windows refund” may get you some useful information to help with that.
Whether or not you are purchasing a system with Linux bundled, or even a used system, it is still important to check that your hardware is supported by the Linux kernel. Check if your hardware is listed in the references found above. Let your salesperson (if any) know that you're shopping for a Linux system. Support Linux-friendly hardware vendors.
Avoid Proprietary or Closed Hardware
Some hardware manufacturers simply won't tell us how to write drivers for their hardware. Others won't allow us access to the documentation without a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent us from releasing the Linux source code.
Since we haven't been granted access to the documentation on these devices, they simply won't work under Linux. You can help by asking the manufacturers of such hardware to release the documentation. If enough people ask, they will realize that the free software community is an important market.
Windows-specific Hardware
A disturbing trend is the proliferation of Windows-specific modems and printers. In some cases these are specially designed to be operated by the Microsoft Windows operating system and bear the legend “WinModem” or “Made especially for Windows-based computers”. This is generally done by removing the embedded processors of the hardware and shifting the work they do over to a Windows driver that is run by your computer's main CPU. This strategy makes the hardware less expensive, but the savings are often not passed on to the user and this hardware may even be more expensive than equivalent devices that retain their embedded intelligence.
You should avoid Windows-specific hardware for two reasons. The first is that the manufacturers do not generally make the resources available to write a Linux driver. Generally, the hardware and software interface to the device is proprietary, and documentation is not available without a non-disclosure agreement, if it is available at all. This precludes it being used for free software, since free software writers disclose the source code of their programs. The second reason is that when devices like these have had their embedded processors removed, the operating system must perform the work of the embedded processors, often at real-time priority, and thus the CPU is not available to run your programs while it is driving these devices. Since the typical Windows user does not multi-process as intensively as a Linux user, the manufacturers hope that the Windows user simply won't notice the burden this hardware places on their CPU. However, any multi-processing operating system, even Windows 2000 or XP, suffers from degraded performance when peripheral manufacturers skimp on the embedded processing power of their hardware.
You can help improve this situation by encouraging these manufacturers to release the documentation and other resources necessary for us to program their hardware, but the best strategy is simply to avoid this sort of hardware until it is listed as working in the Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO.
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Installation Media
This section will help you determine which different media types you can use to install Ubuntu. For example, if you have a floppy disk drive on your machine, it can be used to install Ubuntu. There is a whole chapter devoted to media, which lists the advantages and disadvantages of each media type. You may want to refer back to this page once you reach that section.
CD-ROM/DVD-ROM
Whenever you see “CD-ROM” in this manual, it applies to both CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs, because both technologies are really the same from the operating system's point of view, except for some very old nonstandard CD-ROM drives which are neither SCSI nor IDE/ATAPI.
CD-ROM based installation is supported for some architectures. On machines which support bootable CD-ROMs, you should be able to do a completely floppy-less installation. Even if your system doesn't support booting from a CD-ROM, you can use the CD-ROM in conjunction with the other techniques to install your system, once you've booted up by other means; SCSI, SATA and IDE/ATAPI CD-ROMs are supported.
USB CD-ROM drives are also supported, as are FireWire devices that are supported by the ohci1394 and sbp2 drivers.
Hard Disk
Booting the installation system directly from a hard disk is another option for many architectures. This will require some other operating system to load the installer onto the hard disk.
USB Memory Stick
Many Ubuntu boxes need their floppy and/or CD-ROM drives only for setting up the system and for rescue purposes. If you operate some servers, you will probably already have thought about omitting those drives and using an USB memory stick for installing and (when necessary) for recovering the system. This is also useful for small systems which have no room for unnecessary drives.
Network
The network can be used during the installation to retrieve files needed for the installation. Whether the network is used or not depends on the installation method you choose and your answers to certain questions that will be asked during the installation. The installation system supports most types of network connections (including PPPoE, but not ISDN or PPP), via either HTTP or FTP. After the installation is completed, you can also configure your system to use ISDN and PPP.
You can also boot the installation system over the network.
Diskless installation, using network booting from a local area network and NFS-mounting of all local filesystems, is another option.
Un*x or GNU system
If you are running another Unix-like system, you could use it to install Ubuntu without using the debian-installer described in the rest of this manual. This kind of install may be useful for users with otherwise unsupported hardware or on hosts which can't afford downtime.
Supported Storage Systems
The Ubuntu boot disks contain a kernel which is built to maximize the number of systems it runs on. Unfortunately, this makes for a larger kernel, which includes many drivers that won't be used for your machine
Support for the widest possible range of devices is desirable in general, to ensure that Ubuntu can be installed on the widest array of hardware.
Generally, the Ubuntu installation system includes support for floppies, IDE (also known as PATA) drives, IDE floppies, parallel port IDE devices, SATA and SCSI controllers and drives, USB, and FireWire. The supported file systems include FAT, Win-32 FAT extensions (VFAT) and NTFS.
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Memory and Disk Space Requirements
You must have at least 56MB of memory and 500MB of hard disk space to perform a normal installation. Note that these are fairly minimal numbers.
Installation on systems with less memory or disk space available may be possible but is only advised for experienced users.
Installation images that support the graphical installer require more memory than images that support only the textual installer and should not be used on systems with less than 56MB of memory. If there is a choice between booting the regular and the graphical installer, the former should be selected.

References http://help.ubuntu.com/12.04/installation-guide/amd64/boot-installer.htmlhttp://help.ubuntu.com/12.04/installation-guide/amd64/install-methods.html http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO/
http://help.ubuntu.com/12.04/installation-guide…...

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