What should I keep in mind to install drivers in Debian?

Drivers are those small programs that we must install on the computer so that the operating system (no matter whether it is Windows, macOS or Linux) is able to recognize and use hardware components. Although long ago it was difficult to get Windows up and running, today almost all drivers can be downloaded from Windows Update. And to update them, there are excellent programs like IObit Driver Booster , which allow us to download and install the new versions of the drivers with a couple of clicks. However, what about drivers in Linux? How can I make the computer components work?

install drivers in Debian

Linux drivers are in the kernel

If something characterizes the Linux Kernel, it is because of the large number of drivers that we can find in it. Most of this is dedicated to controllers. To the point that Linux can work the same both on the older computer, with a 5 1/4 floppy disk reader, even on one with the latest Intel processor and the latest graphics card. This has its advantages and disadvantages, of course. Among the advantages we can highlight the compatibility with all types of hardware , compatibility that will make us forget the tedious task of installing and updating drivers that we have in Windows. As a disadvantage, we must indicate that we will have thousands of drivers in the kernel that we do not need , and that means that, instead of having a Kernel that occupies a few megabytes, we have a monster of more than 110 megabytes (without compiling). And the truth is that that goes against the KISS philosophy so typical of Linux.

Panel Control NVIDIA Debian

By this we mean that one of the main fears when testing a Linux distro, like Debian , is unfounded. It doesn’t matter what computer we have, or what hardware we have connected to the PC. Compatibility problems have been a thing of many years ago, and today we will be able to use Linux without having the slightest problem with the Wi-Fi card, or with the graphics or with anything. And all this without having to install or configure any more drivers. And forgetting about their updates.

Do you need more drivers in Debian? Install the privative ones

Anyway, not everything is rosy. The drivers that are included within the kernel (such as the Nouveau for NVIDIA graphics) usually leave a lot to be desired when it comes to performance. If we are going to use the operating system for normal use, nothing happens. But if we plan to use it to render, to process Machine Learning tasks, or, why not, to play games, then we have a problem.

Some manufacturers, like NVIDIA or AMD, publish proprietary drivers so that the graphic cards can work at full performance in Linux. These drivers are more complete and are optimized to give a performance similar to what we can obtain in Windows. The problem is that, as they are not open source, they cannot be included as standard in the kernel , so we must install them by hand if we need it.