Writing Device Drivers

What Is a Device Driver?

A device driver is a kernel module responsible for managing low-level I/O operations for a particular hardware device. Device drivers can also be software-only, emulating a device that exists only in software, such as a RAM disk or a pseudo-terminal.

A device driver contains all the device-specific code necessary to communicate with a device and provides a standard set of interfaces to the rest of the system. This interface protects the kernel from device specifics just as the system call interface protects application programs from platform specifics. Application programs and the rest of the kernel need little (if any) device-specific code to address the device. In this way, device drivers make the system more portable and easier to maintain.