Firmware and Driver on Linux: A little bit of everything about these 2 concepts

Firmware and Driver on Linux: A little bit of everything about these 2 concepts

Firmware and Driver on Linux: A little bit of everything about these 2 concepts

Today we will address the subject of the concepts of «Firmware» and «Driver», since they are 2 important concepts because they directly influence the good performance all Operating system in a Device determined.

And then we will delve a little into how both can be managed, the «Firmwares» and «Drivers» about GNU / Linux.

Firmware and Driver on Linux: Commands to know the GNU / Linux Operating System

Since, in this post we will not go into detail about what command commands are useful or relevant to know the technical specifications of Hardware and Software of a computeras usual we will leave the links of some related previous posts so that, if necessary, anyone can easily access them and deepen this point:

A computer equipment consists of physical devices called globally hardware, and logical components called software. There are tools that allow identifying both parts, either to know the characteristics of the equipment and to measure its performance and / or diagnose possible failures. When there is a need to request support in solving problems, such as installing or updating a firmware or driver, it is important to be able to provide (collect) all the information that is possible and necessary about the hardware and software that make up the equipment. Commands to know the system (identify hardware and some software configurations)

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Commands to know the system (identify hardware and some software configurations)

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Firmware and Driver: Concepts, Similarities and Differences, and More.

Firmware and Driver: Concepts, Similarities and Differences, and More.

What is a Firmware?

According to the website «», for an "Firmware" It is described as:

"The firmware, whose name refers to the firm programming, is part of the hardware, since it is integrated into the electronics, but it is also considered as part of the software as it is developed under a programming language. Arguably, the firmware functions as the nexus between the instructions coming to the device from the outside and its various electronic parts." (Expand info)

While, the web «» expresses the following:

"The Firmware then consists of a number of instructions that interact with the computer, finding these in the Read Only Memory (generally a ROM Memory is used) that allows to control and diagnose the operation at the Electrical Circuit level of a device or its interaction with the team." (Expand info)

What is a Driver?

According to the website «», for an "Driver" It is described as:

"One of the software components, which works in conjunction with the operating system and the peripheral driver, to provide a functional interface. The Driver (controller / manager) of a device is a kind of application specially designed so that the user can control all the programs installed on his computer, in addition to that, it is in charge of making a hardware work correctly, so it is considers one of the most important pieces within those dedicated to moderate the operation of the equipment." (Expand info)

While, the web «» expresses the following:

"A Controller (or, its equivalent in English, Driver) is a software tool that allows an Operating System to make full use of what is contained in the Hardware of the equipment, being not only what is a Peripheral (that is, , a Keyboard, a Printer or a Mouse, without distinguishing if it is an Input Peripheral or an Output Peripheral) but also to all the System Devices that are fixed, such as a Video Card, Sound Card or similar." (Expand info)

Similarities and differences

From the above we can extract the following similarities and differences

  1. Both are software tools or utilities that are used to operate a device (internal or external piece of hardware).
  2. We will always find the firmware already installed on each device and on its own memory module, while a driver is installed and always works on the Hard Drive and Operating System that will operate the device.
  3. A firmware represents the lowest level of software with which it can interact with a hardware, while a Driver represents higher levels of work.
  4. Both are really very important and necessary, since a correct and well-installed Driver guarantees a correct operation of a device on a computer or control equipment, while the firmware ensures the basic and initial configuration, its correct start-up and putting it online. of each device.
  5. A Firmware is usually very complicated to update, while a Driver is usually easy to install and update, both manually and automatically.

Management of Firmwares and Drivers on GNU / Linux

Once the information from make, model, manufacturer and technical specifications on a device, via documentation, applications or terminal commands. It would only be missing in the case of "Drivers", knowing which package contains the correct driver. It is worth noting that many packets of "Drivers" they carry the word by name "Firmware".

Also, for example, in GNU / Linux Distros based on Debian / Ubuntu, you can know which packages contain certain drivers using the command "Apt" or "apt", as seen below:

sudo apt list *firmware*
sudo apt list *driver*
sudo apt search marcaproducto*
sudo aptitude search nombrefabricante* | grep nombrefabricante

While, for the management of "Firmwares" the easiest option is to use the application called "Firmware Update" or simply "LVFS". This application also known by its full name, "Linux Vendor Firmware Service", It is basically:

"A CLI and GUI tool that works through a service (daemon) that connects to the "Linux Vendor Firmware Service" website and is capable of detecting, downloading and updating the necessary firmware for recognized devices."

For our practical case, I have installed it on my Operating system used, called MilagrOS (Respin based on MX Linux) following the following actions and command commands:

  • Installing the Star Labs PPA Repository: Adding the following URL to the file «sources.list»

«deb bionic main»

  • And then executing the following command commands:
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 17A20BAF70BEC3904545ACFF8F21C26C794386E3
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 499E6345B743746B
sudo apt update
sudo apt install fwupd fwupd-gui
  • Run the application via the Applications Menu under the name «Firmware Update»

Firmware and Driver: Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS)

For more information on its use by graphical interface or terminal command you can visit its Official website, and their sites GitHub y LaunchPad.

Generic image for article conclusions


We hope this "useful little post" on the concepts of «Firmware y Drivers», which are usually two important points within the Informatics, since they directly influence the good performance all Operating system over a Device determined; is of great interest and utility, for the entire «Comunidad de Software Libre y Código Abierto» and of great contribution to the diffusion of the wonderful, gigantic and growing ecosystem of applications of «GNU/Linux».

For now, if you liked this publicación, Do not stop share it with others, on your favorite websites, channels, groups or communities of social networks or messaging systems, preferably free, open and / or more secure as TelegramSignalMastodon or another of Fediverse, preferably.

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