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As described in Section 2.2, some devices require firmware to be loaded. In most cases the device will not work at all if the firmware is not available; sometimes basic functionality is not impaired if it is missing and the firmware is only needed to enable additional features.

If a device driver requests firmware that is not available, debian-installer will display a dialog offering to load the missing firmware. If this option is selected, debian-installer will scan avail- able devices for either loose firmware files or packages containing firmware. If found, the firmware will be copied to the correct location (/lib/firmware) and the driver module will be reloaded.

Note: Which devices are scanned and which file systems are supported depends on the architec- ture, the installation method and the stage of the installation. Especially during the early stages of the installation, loading the firmware is most likely to succeed from a FAT-formatted floppy disk or USB stick.

Note that it is possible to skip loading the firmware if you know the device will also function without it, or if the device is not needed during the installation.

debian-installer only prompts for firmware needed by kernel modules loaded during the instal- lation. Not all drivers are included in debian-installer, in particular radeon is not, so this implies that the capabilities of some devices may be no different at the end of the installation from what they were at the beginning. Consequently, some of your hardware may not be being used to its full poten- tial. If you suspect this is the case, or are just curious, it is not a bad idea to check the output of the dmesg command on the newly booted system and search for “firmware”.

6.4.1. Preparing a medium


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