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Computer parts need a driver because they do not use standard commands. (Ex.: ATI and Nvidia graphic cards do the same jobs, but not the same way). Different operating systems also need different drivers, a driver written for Linux can not be used by Microsoft Windows (there are some exceptions to this, for example, Linux can use Windows Wi-Fi (NDIS) drivers using Ndiswrapper).
Many parts of a computer need drivers, but the most popular are:
Some other parts do not need drivers (or the driver is built-in to the operating system) because they use a kind of standard; the operating system recognizes those parts and knows how to use those parts.
(not complete list)
- CD and DVD drive (including player and burner); however, for SCSI drives the controller card's driver may be needed as well.
- Mouse and keyboard
- Non-3D video cards
- PC speaker (the speaker inside the computer case that beeps)
- Floppy drive
- Most hard drives
- USB flash drives
- Some USB webcams
- Most USB sound cards
- USB hubs (devices that turn one USB port into two or more)
- and more
Using the wrong device driver can prevent hardware from working correctly. For example, a HP printer will not work with a computer that only has a Canon driver. Keeping drivers up-to-date avoids problems when using new programs (such as Windows Vista) with the piece of hardware.