IN THIS CHAPTER
Adding and using scanners
Using external drives
Adding internal drives
Using PCMCIA cards
Adding PCI cards
Support for a tremendous variety of hardware is a key issue for any desktop computer system. As computer hardware becomes more and more of an end-user commodity, where desktop computer users feel more and more comfortable adding cards and external peripherals to their computer systems, the extent to which an operating system supports all of this new hardware has increasingly higher visibility. An increasing number of devices that are designed as external plug-and-play devices using interfaces like USB and FireWire are available at the local Best Buy, CompUSA, or Stop-n-Go. People expect to buy these things, take them home, plug them in, and find that "they just work." And rightly so.
All hardware requires pieces of kernel software called device drivers in order to be accessed and correctly used by the operating system. This is true for the Microsoft Windows kernel (yes, it has one), the Mac OS X kernel, and the Linux kernel. The fact that CDs labeled "Windows Drivers" fall out of the boxes containing almost every piece of modern hardware might make you think that you'll have a problem using this hardware with Linux. After all, there is no companion coaster labeled "Linux Drivers." What gives?
Luckily, the answer is that the device drivers for most hardware are already available as part of the Linux ...