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Concepts hardware

tagline: From openSUSE

Support for hardware under Linux

Support for hardware under Linux based operating systems (and so openSUSE) varies. Some manufacturers provide drivers for their hardware, some do not. In many cases free-software enthusiasts have created Linux drivers for hardware. Because some manufacturers have proprietary (and not free) drivers for their hardware, an "out of the box openSUSE" may, or may not, initially include those drivers, and hence may not have initial support for all hardware. One may need to spend some time setting up their hardware. And one may not have to. It simply depends. For example, one's graphics, audio, wifi may work immediately. It may not work. Typically a Linux beginner needs to give their graphics, Internet, and audio their top priorities in setting up their hardware.

If one is purchasing new hardware, it is often useful to check for Linux compatibility prior to purchasing.

Hardware drivers under Linux

Drivers in Linux are often implemented as "kernel modules" which may be loaded during Linux boot, or may be dynamically loaded and unloaded during a Linux session. Many drivers/modules are provided as part of the kernel packaging, and others have to be provided separately. Typically openSUSE does not come with proprietary hardware drivers, and hence such proprietary drivers need to be provided by the manufacturer or by other 3rd party. Instead, openSUSE is typically packaged with openSource free software drivers that work with most hardware.

Some links providing more detail on setting up some different graphic drivers with openSUSE are:

Hard Drives: terminology, partition table

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In Linux, hard drives are known by different names than what they are in MS-Windows. In openSUSE Linux (prior to openSUSE-10.3) an EIDE/IDE hard drive is known as “hd” and are alphabetized starting with “a” (ie hda, hdb, hdc ... etc ). A scsi/sata drive is typically known as “sd” and are also alphabetized starting with an “a” (ie sda, sdb, sdc ... etc). Various partitions are numbered, staring with the number 1 (ie hda1, hdb1, hdb2, hdb3, hdc1, sda1, sda2). A floppy disk will be known as fd.

Commencing with openSUSE-10.3, through the use of the libata application, EIDE/IDE hard drives also share the sda, sdb ... etc naming convention.

The partitioning of the hard drives in Linux follows the PC standard and is not Linux-specific (that is, the partitioning is the same as in Windows). Every hard drive must have one partition table. There can be 0 - 4 entries in that table. Out of the maximum four entries, 0 - 4 can be primary partition descriptions, and 0 - 1 can be extended partition descriptions. The extended partition holds several logical partitions, its number can be from 1 to 4; the logical partition numbering begins with five. Here is how typically a hard drive is partitioned when there is one hard drive in the PC, used both for Windows and Linux:

Name Filesystem type Size Used for Mountpoint Notes
hda1 NTFS 32 GB Windows OS /windows/C Has been squeezed
hda2 NTFS 8 GB Windows Restore Do not mount Has been moved
hda3 - 80 GB Hold all Linux files - Extended part-n
hda5 ext3 12 GB Linux OS / Logical part-n
hda6 swap 1 GB Extension of RAM - Logical part-n
hda7 ext3 or reiserfs 67 GB Users' files /home Logical part-n


A more advanced version of partitioning (this time using the openSUSE-10.3 (and later openSUSE version) libata naming convention):

Name Filesystem type Size Used for Mountpoint Notes
sda1 NTFS 32 GB Windows OS /windows/C Has been squeezed
sda2 NTFS 8 GB Windows Restore Do not mount Has been moved
sda3 - 80 GB Hold all Linux files - Extended part-n
sda5 reiserfs 14 GB Linux OS / Logical part-n
sda6 reiserfs 5 GB User-installed programs /usr/local Logical part-n
sda7 swap 2 GB Swapping - Logical part-n
sda8 ext3 or reiserfs 20 GB Users' files /home Logical part-n
sda9 ext3 or reiserfs 35 GB Users' data /data Logical part-n
sda10 reiserfs 4 GB Encrypted data /enc (no mounting by default) Logical part-n

Again, as reflected above, starting from openSUSE-10.3 to the current openSUSE version, the EIDE/IDE hard drives may be referred to as sdx, as opposed to hdx.

See also