I heard that there are two types of software totally. 1- system software (like, OSs) and 2- Applications (like video file player) but what about the drivers.
Since the work of system software is to operate and control the hardware and the driver almost also does the same thing so I'm in doubt.
Are the device drivers a type of system software? Or they are just applications?

closed as too broad by Heptite, Kevin Panko, Moses, random Apr 12 '14 at 3:44

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  • Drivers are firmware really! It's technically software IMO but, you can't run it by itself, so it's not an application... So, it's not soft, it's not hard, it's just firm (what an odd thing to write!!)! – Dave Apr 8 '14 at 14:13

A driver is software which allows the OS to communicate with a piece of hardware. Without it, the "system' will not work properly. Therefore, drivers are technically system software.


What is a driver?

What is a driver?

Device driver

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There are many types of software. An operating system is one, an application is another, a compiler is third, a programming language (like java) is yet another.

Software can be defined in that it is a program that loads into main memory from some storage device and is executed there. The OS kernel is just the first program to do so. (Ignoring the bios for the moment).

Firmware is a piece of software that is loaded directly into something that is not main memory. For instance, the firmware update you do on an ssd is loaded into some flash ram on the drive itself. Technically, the bios update is also firmware as it loads into the flash ram on the Motherboard. The thing is, when you start the system, it loads a copy of the bios into main memory so that it can do some basic things with the hardware before the "main" OS is ready to load. UEFI is a more advanced version of the older bios's and it can do more things (includes a simple shell even).

So, to get to your question about device drivers, yes they are a part of the OS. But, and here's the complicated part, many drivers also include applications bundled with them. The AMD video drivers include other applications such as the control panel for the graphics, video codecs and middleware to allow the use of the GPU as a co-processor. HP printer "drivers" tend to include 10MB of actual driver, and a few hundred megabytes of "useful applications".

To make matters even more complicated, what's a driver? It's a piece of software that allows the OS to communicate and control a particular piece of real or virtual hardware. The old model is that a piece of hardware, say a printer, had all the electronics and firmware it needed to do the printing- the driver was just there so that the OS could communicate about what to print and get the status of the printer. As time went on, computers got faster, and the printer guys realized that you could dump all the processing to the PC, rather than including expensive processors on the printers. So they made a software driver that shifted all the document processing to the PC, and the printer just took the finished output for printing. Same thing for software raid; the raid driver uses the main ram and cpu to do all the calculations, rather than dedicated hardware on a separate card.

To sum up. There are many different types of software, and as these can be categorized by purpose, you can consider drivers to be in a class of their own.

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