DKMS: Dell Improves Driver Installation

Sep 24, 2007

Version DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support), a framework that facilitates the installation of Linux drivers, has just been released. Besides bugfixes the new release includes a method for creating Debian driver packages.

Dell developed DKMS in order to deliver updated hardware drivers to its Linux customers without replacing the entire kernel. The framework provides a standardized update process that facilitates support.

DKMS keeps its own source code tree on a system outside of the kernel sources. It includes commands for building, installing and removing modules. In addition to this, it can create RPM and even Debian packages as of the latest version.

The current version solves release problems using the "--rpm_safe_upgrade" option. Driver floppy generation for Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 has been reworked, but is still problematic according to Dell's Linux strategist Matt Domsch. In his company blog Domsch describes the advantages of DKMS based on a current example: the framework supports simple integration of drivers for Dell's hardware. Dell had to remaster the distribution CDs for Ubuntu 7.04; now Dell uses DKMS for SLES, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu.

More details are available on the DKMS project page. Tarballs, RPMs and Debian packages are available for downloading. DKMS, which is licensed under the GPLv2, is also available from the Ubuntu Gutsy (universe) and Fedora 7 (testing) repositories.

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