Hardware configuration of Red Hat Workstation 6.1 on laptop

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Hello, all:


New to Red Hat and had questions concerning hardware configuration of Red Hat Workstation 6.1 on a laptop.  My familiarity has been in the Windows-world for many years, and I'm adapting to linux quickly... but, there is so much to figure out in the ways of the many command-line tools.  I'm able to follow directions really well, but due to a lack of familiarity with "said-tools", I'm lacking in knowledge.


The grub.conf file is where the majority of the magic happens, and I am unsure of what to do next.  There is a point where patching the kernel is necessary in reference to hardware, and lacking the ability to really "know" what to do is my problem.


My question is:  "Is there a specific set of commands I may use that are in comparison to the routine of installing individual drivers in a Windows environment?"  And, after everything is patched correctly... can the drivers no longer in use be removed easily?


I only make mention of that because of installing the nVidia video-driver, and removing the nouveau driver.  It was a post I read that was straight-forward and to the point.  So, if I could find the hardware driver listed in a particular format... say source... from the manufacturer, I would be able to patch the kernel with the source correctly for my device... right?


This is where I'm at... of sorts.  I'm trying to work around some hardware pitfalls to make sure everything works as it should when I begin running the software I need.  So, if anyone has the time to help out, I'd really appreciate it.  I'm open to any questions concerning my setup to aid in accomplishing this task.


Thanks in advance


The steps to add and remove a third party driver usually come with the driver itself.

Just grab the latest Linux driver from their website. It generally does the right thing now. All you have to do is install it from a text console as root (i.e. run "init 3" and make sure you aren't in a GUI environment.)

It should be a runnable shell archive. I've installed it several dozen times on RHEL5 without any trouble at all.

You shouldn't have to do any noveau funny-business anymore, as I think their installer takes care of that for you now.

The one thing to note is, you probably want the following four packages installed for best results:

("yum -y install gcc make kernel-devel kernel-headers")

If I remember correctly, the driver is compiled/linked by the installer, so you need the above tools installed to complete that successfully.

grub.conf should only very rarely need to be touched to properly install a driver. The nvidia driver requires it only to blacklist the stock Nouveau driver, and I think that is blacklisted now via a modprobe blacklist.

Your understanding is partially correct.


The kernel itself doesn't include all the drivers. Kernel functionality is extended by loading "modules". Modules are pieces of code (such as device drivers and filesystem drivers) which can be loaded and unloaded on demand without rebooting the system.


What we do with the nVidia driver download is compile a kernel module which is the device driver for the graphics card*. As part of the install process for this module, we would also stop the free noveau graphics driver from loading (a process called "blacklisting"), as you can't load two drivers for the same piece of hardware at the same time.


This sounds complex but it's basically just running ./NVIDIA-Linux-blah-blah as root and adding a line to a blacklist file. You can find more info on this in kbase articles DOC-5259 and DOC-44775. Sean P Kane also made a good post about getting nVidia working on RHEL, search for it on Google.


It's also possible to install the driver pre-built from a third-party repository such as elrepo.org. For a Fedora home-use system this is fine, but for your RHEL system I wouldn't advise it for support reasons. Red Hat and nVidia have a partnership where nV will investigate driver issues that RH clients have. In the event that this happens, I imagine nVidia would want you to be running their official driver, not one obtained from a third-party. RH support will also want you to be following their kbase articles and do not support third party repositories.


* - Actually, you compile an open-source module which loads a closed-source binary blob, which is the driver for the graphics card. This closed is so nVidia don't have to show how their driver works and have ATI steal all their secrets. ATI also release their own closed-source binary blob. This is generally considered poor form as far as freedom of software goes.

Sorry for the delayed acknowledgement -


I really appreciate everyones input.


So far, I've taken care of hardware drivers and such on my own, with the aid of many kbase articles and research.  The understanding of how everything comes together has been like kicking water uphill, but it's getting better.


Understanding how linux works has been my focus for the last couple of months.  Sure, some flavors work a little differently... but, I've really come to understand the driver portion of my original question.


Again, thanks everyone.  It's nice to be able to ask a question and get a response by folks who have an idea of what I'm going through.


Thank you