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I have recently started to learn Linux, and Debian is the most likeable to me. I installed it on a notebook, and found that some firmware is missing (which is in line with what I read in the Installation Guide). I have the following questions:

  • to find out which firmware files are required, try grep 'Firmware.*requested' /var/log/kern.log or journalctl -k | grep 'Firmware.*requested'. That will only give you the filenames, you then need to find out which package(s) have those files and install them. Mostly there will be an obvious relationship between either the device name (or the name of the kernel driver it uses - btw, the linux kernel doesn't care about brand names, it uses generic drivers for known hardware types. chipsets, not brands) and the package name, and/or the firmware filename and the package name. – cas Aug 9 '17 at 1:32
  • I tried these (with sudo) but they did not give any output. Does this mean that everything is OK? I doubt that because ip a does not show my WiFi adapter. – z32a7ul Aug 9 '17 at 18:51
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I would go with the official firmware from the distribution if it works for you.

Besides that particular version that comes with Debian being more tested, there is not guarantees the firmware supplied by the manufacturer will be compatible with the kernel maybe unless the manufacturer says to use that particular version with distribution or kernel xxx, and even then.

There may be some specific versions of firmware that may even not work with the default drivers/daemons, being newer or older than the versions used by default.

For instance, to understand the problem, there are floating around several versions of the firmware for realtek wifi chipsets, with several compatible versions of kernel drivers, and several versions of the hostapd daemon, that have to match specific versions closely together, and often have to be compiled, to try to overcome bugs of the chipset.

So, unless you know what you are doing, I would suggest (again) going with the firmware drivers that come with the distribution.

  • Thanks, it's good to know that I don't need to include all those drivers in my installer package. – z32a7ul Aug 9 '17 at 18:06
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What you write and how you write it suggests that there may be one or two gaps in your knowledge.

Do you know about REPOSITORIES and how to use them? Firmware is available from Repository BUT you need to change your sources list to get at it.

Debian by default only supplies "free" stuff. Firmware is proprietary i.e. "not free" but it can still be accessed.

Look at https://linuxpanda.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/things-to-do-after-installing-debian-stretch/ particularly the section "Update the Source List". DO NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW THE REST OF THIS SITE UNLESS/UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU MIGHT BE ADDING.

Look at https://wiki.debian.org/DebianRepository

One useful thing for you to add would be synaptic > (AS ROOT) apt install synaptic.

Firmware is mostly needed for video and wifi. Generally, people work on the basis of "Does it seem to work?" and "If it ain't broke don't try to fix it".

The need for firmware can normally be found by identifying the hardware first and then seeing if that hardware NEEDS firmware. Some things just work. Hardware can be discovered by using, in a Terminal, either the command > lspci or the command > lsusb.

  • Thanks, this repository was new info to me. So, if I downloaded all the 3 installer DVD's, then I have the same packages as if I downloaded everything from /debian/pool/main (from any mirror). Is that correct? And if both the installation DVD's and the Firmware are of version 9.1.0 for AMD64 then they have to be compatible, right? I'm still trying the instructions in the Linux Panda article. – z32a7ul Aug 9 '17 at 18:09

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