A device driver is essentially a particular form of software application that is designed to enable interaction with hardware devices. In the absence of the required device driver, the corresponding hardware device fails to work.
A device driver typically communicates with the hardware by means of the communications subsystem or computer bus to which the hardware is connected. All device drivers are operating system-specific and hardware-dependent. A device driver functions as a translator between the hardware device and the programs or operating systems that use it. A device driver sometimes may also be called a software driver.
There are device drivers for almost every device analogous with a computer. Device drivers can be majorly classified into two categories, i.e., Kernel Device Drivers and User device drivers.
Kernel device drivers are comprehensive device drivers that load with the operating system into the memory as part of the operating system; not the entire driver but a pointer to that effect so that the device driver can be implored as soon as it is required. The drivers have a bearing on BIOS, motherboard, processor, and similar hardware form part of Kernel Software.
While on the other hand, User Mode Device Drivers are the ones usually stimulated by users during their session on a computer. Typically, drivers for most of the Plug and Play devices fall into this category. User Device Drivers can be written to disk so that they don’t act inflexible on the resources.
Further, device drivers are classified into the following types-
Sometimes, device drivers can be generic, or OEM related. Suppose the device driver comes with the operating software, it most probably would be a generic device driver. Typically a generic device driver is one that can be used with different brands of a particular device type. For example, Windows 10 has a number of generic drivers that work without having to install any other software manually.
Sporadically, the generic drivers don’t help. Hence, the original equipment manufacturers create their own device drivers. These are OEM device drivers and have to be installed separately after installing the operating system.
Drivers which are used for virtual devices are called Virtual Device Drivers. Oftentimes, we use some software to emulate hardware and the software used to run such virtual hardware is a virtual device driver. For instance, if you are using a VPN, it may create a virtual network card for connecting securely to the Internet while it is not a real physical card, but one set up by VPN software. That card also needs a device driver, and the same VPN software will install the virtual device drivers
Consequently, you can see there are different types of device drivers, and it is a tad bit difficult to use just one or two categories to explain them. To recapitulate, the device driver types were explained: kernel and user mode driver; generic and OEM device drivers, and virtual device drivers.
Let us be of the view that device drivers are like translators between a program we are using and a device that program wants to utilize somehow and the software and the hardware part were created by different people or companies and speak two completely different languages, so a translator (the driver) allows them to communicate.
Simply put, a software program can provide information to a driver to explain what it wants a piece of hardware to do, information the device driver understands and then can fulfill with the hardware. Considering that there is a nearly endless supply of software and hardware out there this is a pretty good deal.
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