Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
Device Driver Basics > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

Device Driver Basics

Most people understand that the "hardware" part of their computer is the real physical parts, like the keyboard, mouse, modem, hard drive and so on. They understand that the "software" is computer bits stored on the hard drive, CD-ROM, or other storage media. But most people are a little hazy about exactly what a "driver" is.

In this article, I'm going to reveal in plain English what a driver is, why we need drivers, and exactly where the drivers are hiding. To give you a basic understanding, I'm going to go back, way back, to the early days of computers.

The Early Days

The year is 1981 and the world is in the midst of a severe resession. IBM's main frame business has slowed and the company is losing money. Up until now they had been laughing at the array of microcomputers on the market: Atari, Commodore, sinclair. Toys really, mostly used to play computer games.

The problem was, these "toys" were selling like hot cakes. IBM had to get into that market and get into it fast. They didn't have time to design and build a computer complete enough to compete in the market, so they built an "open system". They used commonly available electronic components and they published every design detail (including the code), and they even provided plug in slots so that others could build components for their computer.

And people did provide components for the IBM PC. They provided video cards, memory expansion cards, input-output port cards, game port cards, hard disk interface cards, and much more. How were all these various devices able to interface with the PC's operating system? That's where a "driver" comes in.

A hardware device is constructed with various electronic components using various control signals, but the software interface to the operating system is standardized. A device's interface to the operating system must follow the interface specification. A driver is a piece of software that translates the hardware's control signals to signals that the operating system expects, and translates signals from the operating system to the hardware's control signals.

When the computer is started up, it would look in the "system" directory for files with the extension ".drv" and load them into memory. Specific files like autoexec.bat, config.sys, and win.ini were used to inform the operating system about drivers. Hardware would be configured through these files, or through jumpers located on the device itself.

The driver specification evolved along with the PC. Today when a PC starts, it executes the program ntdetect.com which queries the hardware components and builds the registery key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINEHARDWARESYSTEMCurrentControlSet. This key exists only in memory and is created each time the computer boots. If all the drivers are loaded successfully, a copy of the key is saved as ControlSet00X.

Under the registery key CurrentControlSet, the subkey "Enum" contains a subkey for each harware device on the computer. Each device key contains fields for Hardware ID, Driver ID, Device Parameters, and other configuration data. The 32-bit drivers are files with the extension ".sys" and can be found in the folder C:/winnt/system32.

Driver Signing

Microsoft has been the brunt of much criticism because of the poor reliability of the Windows Operating System. I feel that much of this criticism is justified. On the other hand, as I described in part 1 of this article, the PC was designed by IBM as an "open" system. Anyone can sell a hardware device (or software) for the PC. Should Microsoft be held responsible for the quality from a third-party?

As I described in Part 1 of this article, the operating system doesn't interface directly to a hardware device. There is a piece of software called a "driver" that translates the hardware's control signals to signals that the operating system expects, and translates signals from operating system to the hardware's control signals. Obviously, the hardware manufacturer provides the driver.

Because the driver works between the operating system and the hardware, a bug in the driver can cause a serious problem. Many of the problems with Windows have come from bugs in third-party drivers that Microsoft had nothing to do with. For this reason, Microsoft created a Hardware Quality Lab to test drivers. A hardware manufacturer can submit their driver for testing, and if it is passes rigorous compatibility testing, it receives Microsoft's digital signature.

You may have received a message during the installation of a hardware device warning that the driver was not signed. Why would a hardware manufacturer fail to have their driver certified by Microsoft? The computer hardware market is very competitive and the manufacturer might want to bring a new product to market before thorough testing can be completed. Or maybe they don't want to or can't afford to pay Microsoft for certification. The question is, should you click on the "Continue" button to install the unsigned driver?

In my experience, I have never been able to trace a problem to an unsigned driver. If it's your home computer and you performed a back-up recently, go ahead and install the unsigned driver. If it's a computer on a corporate network, you may want to back-out of the installation and see if you can locate a signed driver first. Many times a manufacturer will release a product with an unsigned driver, then later provide a signed driver as a free download from their website.

If you decide to go ahead and install an unsigned driver, you can always update the driver later. If your computer works with the unsigned driver, I would not update the driver. When it comes to updating drivers (or the computers BIOS) I go by the old saying, "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

To update a driver, select Start | Settings | Control Panel and double-click on the "System Properties" Utility. In the "System Properties" Utility, select the "Hardware" tab and click on the "Device Manager" button. In the "Device Manager" window, right-click on the device in the list and select "Properties" in the popup menu. In the "Properties" dialog box, select the driver tab and click on the "Update Driver..." button.

In the "Properties" dialog box driver tab, you may have noticed the "Roll Back Driver" button. If your computer has problems with the new drive, you can click on the "Roll Back Driver" button to roll back to the previous the driver. Driver roll back saves only one previous driver, so if you update a driver, then update it again, the original driver is gone. If the computer has problems with the new driver, always roll back to the original driver before trying a different one. That way you'll always have the original driver to roll back to.

Copyright(C) Bucaro TecHelp.

Permission is granted for the below article to forward, reprint, distribute, use for ezine, newsletter, website, offer as free bonus or part of a product for sale as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright, and the resource box below is included.

About The Author

Stephen Bucaro

To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

TechCrunch

Ultimate Software is acquiring PeopleDoc for $300 million
TechCrunch
While PeopleDoc is significantly smaller than Ultimate Software, it's a notable acquisition for the startup. Ultimate Software says that it plans to spend $75 million in cash when the acquisition closes. PeopleDoc shareholders will receive another $50 ...
Ultimate Software enters $300M deal to acquire Paris-based startupSouth Florida Business Journal
Ultimate Software Group (ULTI) to Acquire PeopleDocStreetInsider.com

all 9 news articles »

CNET

RealNetworks gives away facial recognition software to make schools safer
CNET
Pellegrini is giving a demonstration of the former music giant's latest venture, facial recognition software designed to make children on school campuses safer. RealNetworks' program, called SAFR, was released Tuesday for free download on the company's ...
This company is giving away face recognition software to K-12 schoolsMIT Technology Review

all 6 news articles »

Engadget

Google's Course Kit injects Docs and Drive into educator software
Engadget
In essence, this should let teachers and students use Google Docs seamlessly with their existing software setup. The former can leave comments on assignments exactly as they would a Google Document, and even suggests commonly-used notes so they ...

and more »

TechCrunch

Nuraphones get active noise cancelling via software update ...
TechCrunch
I like the Nuraphones a lot. In fact, I named the sound-adapting headphones one of my favorite things of 2017. Clearly I'm not alone in that enthusiasm, either ...

and more »

Ars Technica

Developer faces prison after admitting admin software was really a RAT
Ars Technica
A Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to federal charges he developed, marketed, and provided technical support for a "remote access trojan," or RAT—that is, software he knew customers used illegally to take control of other people's computers. Colton ...

and more »

Undo gets $14M to scale to meet the software accountability challenge
TechCrunch
Undo, a long time player in the debugging tools space, offering its program execution capture and replay technology to help others diagnose software failures, has closed a $14 million Series B round led by Cambridge Innovation Capital, the Cambridge, ...

and more »

Infosecurity Magazine

Reprise Software Refuses to Patch RLM Issue
Infosecurity Magazine
Reprise Software has refused to patch a vulnerability in its Reprise License Manager (RTM) which has been flagged by SpiderLabs at Trustwave. Discovered by security consultant, Adrian Pruteanu, the issue comes about by running on the non-standard port ...


The Register

Who is the weakest link in software security?
The Register
But what are the practicalities of this? Do developers – ie, those writing the code – need to take more responsibility for software security? If so, then what do they need to step up, without killing their productivity, destroying their morale, and ...


RMS Strengthens Asia-Pacific Capabilities in Version 18 of Modeling Software
Insurance Journal
RMS, the Newark, Calif.-based risk modeling and analytics firm, announced it has strengthened the Asia Pacific capabilities of its Version 18 catastrophe risk management software. The Asia Pacific model suit is being expanded to include new peril ...

Google News

How to Choose the Right Accounting Software for Your Business

With any good luck and a good amount of hard... Read More

SQL: Querying Microsoft Great Plains ? Overview for Database Administrator/Developer

Looks like Microsoft Great Plains becomes more... Read More

Cisco Certification: Introduction To ISDN, Part III

Configuring PPP PAP AuthenticationNow we know how the ISDN link... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains: Service Business Customization & Integration Example

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains might be considered as ERP... Read More

The Dreaded Paper Label - Should it be Used?

While paper labeling CDs and DVDs may appear to be... Read More

Alien Intruders!

You probably didn't casually invite, or extend a formal attendance... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains eCommerce: overview for developer

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains was designed back in the... Read More

Great Plains Custom Development: Dexterity, VBA, SQL, Crystal, eConnect ? Overview For Programmer

Microsoft Great Plains is main Microsoft Business Solutions accounting package... Read More

A Time-Saving Programming Tactic that Doesn?t Work

Let's say that you have a software project that's under... Read More

What is Fleet Maintenance Software?

Simply put, fleet maintenance allows companies to monitor and maintain... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains: Large Scale Implementation

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta, Solomon and CRM... Read More

Five Steps to Rapid Development with TierDeveloper 4.0

Follow the steps below to quickly design, generate, and deploy... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains SOP: Sales Order Processing

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains is marketed for mid-size companies... Read More

Software: What Suits Me?

Almost all new and major brand of PCs come with... Read More

Will Adobe Manage to Replace Industry Work Horse Quark Express by Giving Adobe InDesign for Free?

And kill the best layout software in the process of... Read More

Design a Web Album Using Adobe Photoshop- Part 2

So let's begin crunching down these 300 images using Adobe... Read More

C++ Tutorials: 3, Program Flow (If, Else, While, For)

Program Flow is what you think it is. How the... Read More

Introduction To ISDN, Part II

In the previous ISDN article, we looked at how and... Read More

Photoshop Files and Formats

People often ask me: What image file formats will Photoshop... Read More

Causes of ERP Failures

ERP is the acronym of Enterprise Resource Planning. Multi-module ERP... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains Customization Tools Evolution ? Overview for Consultant

When Great Plains Software introduced the first graphical accounting application... Read More

Passwords Used In Microsoft Word Documents

You would like to protect your documents, wouldn't you? Reasons... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains Integration with Legacy Systems ? Overview For Developer

Looks like Microsoft Great Plains becomes more and more popular,... Read More

Microsoft CRM Integration with IBM Lotus Notes Domino ? Machinery Dealership Example

IBM Lotus Notes with Domino email server is traditional document... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains Beverage Production & Distribution ? Implementation & Customization Highlight

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains has many years of successful... Read More