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First of all, does clean install of an OS delete the drivers installed on the hard disk? If so, will the new OS that is being installed contain drivers necessary for the hardware to perform properly? I assume it depends on the kind of OS that is being install. But if an OS has built-in drivers, they will not be compatible with any hardware, but only with some, right? So generally, this information must be included in the specific distribution of the OS, but how to know if there are so many manufacturers out there?

If users need to reinstall all the drivers on their machines after the new OS has been installed, how do they do that if the system will not work without drivers being installed?

Clearly, I have never done clean install. I do want to learn some basics however, since this information may turn out to be very helpful one day. Besides, I guess the process of clear install has changed over the years as newer versions of OS are designed. When comparing clear install of Windows XP to Windows 8, for example, are there many differences in the process?

Thanks everyone for your replies.

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2 Answers 2

A fully clean OS install will remove all drivers from a computer.

Typically though any PC from an OEM used to be supplied with a CD containing drivers necessary to make the system work. Either that or they will have a recovery disc that contains a preinstalled image of the operating system that will restore the system to the factory state.

Modern systems (Windows 8) will have a recovery partition that is used to restore the system to a factory state and will include drivers. This image can either be burnt to USB flash disk or DVD for later re-installation. A reinstall can then be done from either the factory partition or the USB stick that was created.

If the user wishes to install any OS other than the OEM supplied system then it is up to the user to ensure that all the correct drivers are available.

The operating system has enough generic drivers to get a basic system up and running for all computers but will lack specialized hardware drivers needed to run newer network cards and 3d graphics. You should have basic 2D drivers, enough to display a screen and see it running. On modern systems you should make sure that you have as a minimum any network adapter drivers (Wireless and/or wired) ready to be installed once the operating system is going. After they are installed you will typically be able to connect to the internet to download all other drivers.

The hardware is generic enough that the core of all PC based operating systems (Windows, Linux, etc) has enough drivers to make the computer display a basic screen and drive basic peripherals such as USB2 drives and so on.

So long as you have drivers for specific hardware that you need to use to get other drivers then you are good to go.

Linux will let you use a live CD to test hardware compatibility, Windows you need to make sure you have minimal drivers before you attempt to install.

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First of all, does clean install of an OS delete the drivers installed on the hard disk?

Drivers are essentially files. If the previous filesystem is wiped, they disappear with it.

If so, will the new OS that is being installed contain drivers necessary for the hardware to perform properly?

Yes. Some drivers may not be included. Most consumer-grade stationary and portable computers are supported.

(...) built-in drivers (...) will not be compatible with any hardware, but only with some, right?

Most, yes.

So generally, this information must be included in the specific distribution of the OS, but how to know if there are so many manufacturers out there?

Many drivers are generic. Other drivers (for common chips) are written with support for several manufacturers.

If unsure whether your hardware is supported, open your computer and look for any brand names and model numbers. Note them down, search the web. Generally you will want to browse the "Support" section of the manufacturer's website. This is somewhat painful at start, but you get the hang of it after a while. The important part is to have some patience with these sites. Don't assume anything and try to understand how they feel is the right way for you to find the drivers.

The easiest way is to locate or obtain a new copy of the "Drivers support disc" for your computer.

If users need to reinstall all the drivers on their machines after the new OS has been installed, how do they do that if the system will not work without drivers being installed?

Borrow another computer and download whatever is needed.

I guess the process of clear install has changed over the years as newer versions of OS are designed. When comparing clear install of Windows XP to Windows 8, for example, are there many differences in the process?

Operating systems show a tendency towards a less painful and automated installation process. I can't compare XP to Win8 because I have no experience with Win8.

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