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I was just wondering if Ubuntu actually knows the Proprietary drivers of my laptop. Using a DELL Inspiron 15r 6gb ram i5 intel core processor. If I pick the drivers that it recommends are they actually the right ones?

It's not a serious problem but just was wondering if Ubuntu actually knows this or it just gives you a whatever driver for Intel, and also is this driver actually designed for this chipset? All Answers welcome, well only nice ones.:)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

My understanding is that NVidia and ATI both have a single unified proprietary driver each, named nvidia and fglrx respectively. Those drivers are closed proprietary binary blobs over which Linux developers have no control.

There are also open source replacements of those drivers, named nouveau and radeon.

Intel, being in this case more open-source friendly, opened their driver, so there's just one open source driver, named intel,

All of those drivers support all available graphic chipsets from the given manufacturer (maybe except ancient ones). When a new chipset appears, the support is added to the driver; also the support for very old chipsets is sometimes dropped, which means that if you have an older machine sometimes you want to install an older version of the driver. Apart from that, there are no drivers specifically designed for a particular chipset.

On the other hand, if you don't have, say, an Nvidia card in your system you won't see nvidia driver in the Additional Drivers. So yes, Ubuntu only shows drivers which are designed for your hardware, but no, those drivers are not for designed for one particular chipset only.

Open-source drivers are installed in Ubuntu by default. If Ubuntu detects that there are proprietary drivers available for your hardware, it lists them in the Additional Drivers dialog. You're actually not required to install those drivers, if you don't you will continue to use the open source drivers.

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Another great answer also more in depth thank you Sergey, Like I said silly question but I got all my answers now. Thanks you! :) – user130156 Feb 12 '13 at 3:22

No. There is a possibility that the Recommended one might not work correctly. I am really sorry to actually admit this since it is the recommended. This is because it actually works for more people than for the ones that it fails with.

The cases I have tested are for example the Nvidia drivers and Broadcom wireless drivers but is not limited to this. Point to mention is that they are called "Proprietary" for a reason which increases the chance of this mistakes or problems of detecting and recommending the actual one. Although the percent is small, is not a 100% sure thing.

Now, for an intel driver, there is a huge chance that it will install the correct driver, but I actually do not know of any proprietary driver from Intel (in you case, the WiMax might be but Intel has been for a long time open to the open source world with everything). At least one that I am aware of. All intel drivers are open sourced, work out of the box as far as I am concern and will install automatically.

If you want to know if some driver or hardware part is not working or needs the proprietary driver, simply open Dash and type Software Sources and click on the Software Sources app. Then click on Additional Drivers tab. If there is any proprietary driver needed to install it will appear there.

But like I said before, for Intel, you most likely do not need to worry about anything. For Broadcom, Ati or Nvidia... well.. that's another matter.

Just in case you really want to know what Ubuntu detected, you can run in terminal commands like lshw to list all hardware on your computer, or lspci and lsusb to see all devices like Video, Network, Webcam and sound on your PC.

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Thanks Luis that was very informative, yes I know it was kind of a stupid question but I was just curious if Ubuntu actually "recommends" the right driver or not. You answered my question thank you! and thanks for the terminal commands I'll try them out :) – user130156 Feb 12 '13 at 3:19
no problem buddy, glad to help. Curiosity is the father of invention hehe. – Luis Alvarado Feb 12 '13 at 3:24

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