I am an embedded GNU/Linux learner. I understand with the new Kernel, driver support for most added hardware is coming through Device Tree Structure (DTS).

But I have found out that there are still some hardware, e.g. Realtek RTL8188CU(S) chipset that claim to have built in kernel support. According to my understanding the new kernel is free from hardware drivers. Therefore no hardware chip will have built-in support from the kernel.

I believe any hardware driver introduced to the system must be introduced through the device tree structure which is a different compilation process. If that is the case, why are some WiFi SoCs and Bluetooth SoCs etc in the market have built-in support in the linux kernel and some claim they don't.

How is this possible? I believe I have a wrong understanding somewhere. Please help.

P.S - Do all of the hardware SoCs (these new USB hardware etc) come with a " executable driver software" which introduces a Device Tree Structure to the linux kernel? if that is the case, wont any hardware be supported provided we have a good datasheet from which we could write driver support which is open source?

For support you may view the following post that claims that the new Raspberry Pi kernel supports a perticular WiFi adapter. It even says the old kernel which allowed all drivers to be in , does not support the same. I am even confused here.

I will so much appreciate any related extra knowledge shred on this matter.

  • 1
    What gave you the idea that “the new kernel is free from hardware drivers”? The device tree describes what hardware is present. It doesn't contain drivers. – Gilles Apr 25 '15 at 13:08
  • I thought since editing the kernel is risky and a complex task, an easy option was to pass drivers to the system during boot time using the concept of device tree overlays. I precisely thought this was the reason devicec tree support was introduced into linux. I read that Linus was not happy with the way kernel was getting bigger and bigger with other driver code (specially from ARM) and therefore Linus intrduced device tree concept to Linux. If you can, please correct my misunderstanding. – Dina Apr 25 '15 at 14:23
  • even after the intrduction of DTBs. do all drivers need to be included into the kernel anyway? – Dina Apr 26 '15 at 5:30

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