Chapter 2. Understanding Device Drivers

This chapter provides you with a general introduction to device drivers and takes you through the structural elements of a device driver.

Using WinDriver, you do not need to familiarize yourself with the internal workings of driver development. As explained in Chapter 1 of the manual, WinDriver enables you to communicate with your hardware and develop a driver for your device from the user mode, using only WinDriver's simple APIs, without any need for driver or kernel development knowledge.

2.1. Device Driver Overview

Device drivers are the software segments that provides an interface between the operating system and the specific hardware devices — such as terminals, disks, tape drives, video cards, and network media. The device driver brings the device into and out of service, sets hardware parameters in the device, transmits data from the kernel to the device, receives data from the device and passes it back to the kernel, and handles device errors.

A driver acts like a translator between the device and programs that use the device. Each device has its own set of specialized commands that only its driver knows. In contrast, most programs access devices by using generic commands. The driver, therefore, accepts generic commands from a program and then translates them into specialized commands for the device.