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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Essentials eBook now available in PDF and ePub formats for only $9.99
RHEL 6 Essentials contains 40 chapters and over 250 pages.

Chapter 6. Updating drivers during installation on Intel and AMD systems

In most cases, Red Hat Enterprise Linux already includes drivers for the devices that make up your system. However, if your system contains hardware that has been released very recently, drivers for this hardware might not yet be included. Sometimes, a driver update that provides support for a new device might be available from Red Hat or your hardware vendor on a driver disc that contains rpm packages. Typically, the driver disc is available for download as an ISO image file.
Often, you do not need the new hardware during the installation process. For example, if you use a DVD to install to a local hard drive, the installation will succeed even if drivers for your network card are not available. In situations like this, complete the installation and add support for the piece of hardware afterward — refer to Section 35.1.1, “Driver update rpm packages” for details of adding this support.
In other situations, you might want to add drivers for a device during the installation process to support a particular configuration. For example, you might want to install drivers for a network device or a storage adapter card to give the installer access to the storage devices that your system uses. You can use a driver disc to add this support during installation in one of three ways:
  1. place the ISO image file of the driver disc in a location accessible to the installer:
    1. on a local hard drive
    2. a USB flash drive
  2. create a driver disc by extracting the image file onto:
    1. a CD
    2. a DVD
    Refer to the instructions for making installation discs in Section 2.1, “Making an installation DVD” for more information on burning ISO image files to CD or DVD.
  3. create an initial ramdisk update from the image file and store it on a PXE server. This is an advanced procedure that you should consider only if you cannot perform a driver update with any other method.
If Red Hat, your hardware vendor, or a trusted third party told you that you will require a driver update during the installation process, choose a method to supply the update from the methods described in this chapter and test it before beginning the installation. Conversely, do not perform a driver update during installation unless you are certain that your system requires it. Although installing an unnecessary driver update will not cause harm, the presence of a driver on a system for which it was not intended can complicate support.

6.1. Limitations of driver updates during installation

Unfortunately, some situations persist in which you cannot use a driver update to provide drivers during installation:
Devices already in use
You cannot use a driver update to replace drivers that the installation program has already loaded. Instead, you must complete the installation with the drivers that the installation program loaded and update to the new drivers after installation, or, if you need the new drivers for the installation process, consider performing an initial RAM disk driver update — refer to Section 6.2.3, “Preparing an initial RAM disk update”.
Devices with an equivalent device available
Because all devices of the same type are initialized together, you cannot update drivers for a device if the installation program has loaded drivers for a similar device. For example, consider a system that has two different network adapters, one of which has a driver update available. The installation program will initialize both adapters at the same time, and therefore, you will not be able to use this driver update. Again, complete the installation with the drivers loaded by the installation program and update to the new drivers after installation, or use an initial RAM disk driver update.

 
 
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