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i want to write a device driver but not able to find the header file can someone please help me find them?Also if someone can point out some important site links that would be really appreciated

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4 Answers 4

up vote 57 down vote accepted

You should be able to install the kernel header files for the currently running kernel by running the following in a terminal:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r)

In general, the kernel header packages are named linux-header-* where "*" indicates the version & variant (generic, server, etc.).

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hey thanks but could you tell me what does generic, server, etc means i want to write (kernel driver) – coder Nov 6 '11 at 3:39
This won't install the headers for future updates automatically and you'll have to re-run this command every time. Therefore, it's recommended to install the metapackage instead, as described in another answer. – gertvdijk Jun 25 '13 at 21:13
Note: this doesn't put them in the GCC include path, you still need -I. – Ciro Santilli 六四事件 法轮功 包卓轩 Aug 8 at 7:34

You can just type:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic

if you are on a Desktop installation. The apt-get will solve the dependencies and install the correct version of kernel headers.

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and Ubuntu will also update them when a new version comes out – Csq May 5 '13 at 7:38
Or linux-headers-virtual if your running a VM in an Openstack instance... – BSchlinker Sep 18 '13 at 6:41
In Debian Wheezy I get the error message "Package linux-headers-generic is not available, but is referred to by another package. [...] E: Package 'linux-headers-generic' has no installation candidate" – IQAndreas Apr 27 at 3:10
@IQAndreas the linux-headers-generic package is ubuntu specific. On Debian you should use sudo apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r) – Alexandre Teles Apr 28 at 16:00

Or if you have aptitude installed: sudo aptitude install linux-headers-$(uname -r)

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Essentially the same thing. – IAnsari Sep 28 at 11:38

This should cover another problem when: the running kernel is obsolete, meaning it's not in the repository anymore neither its headers. So the best thing to do is to update the kernel to last version in the repository.

linux-generic is a meta package to keep current version of the kernel & its headers:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linux-generic

Note: Depending on your Ubuntu edition, See if you need linux-lowlatency (Ubuntu Studio), linux-signed-generic or linux-virtual.

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