[arch-dev-public] The /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/updates directory - and how great it is

Thomas Bächler thomas at archlinux.org
Mon Apr 21 15:11:55 EDT 2008

The module-init-tools have had this feature for a while and I just 
wanted to tell you about how we can use it:

The modules contained in the updates/ subdirectory in your module 
directory are always preferred over any other modules. Thus, you can put 
updated modules into it which supercede the ones installed by our 
kernel. This is great, I'll just give some examples:

- The compat-wireless package uses it
That's how I know about it. compat-wireless puts a complete new mac80211 
tree with drivers into updates/. This means it is easy to get updated 
wireless drivers without conflicting with the stock kernel and without 
having to rebuild the whole kernel.

- ALSA updates
ALSA has been known to be a bitch. Sometimes the drivers in the stock 
Linux kernel are out of date and an updated driver will help. Now, we 
could provide a PKGBUILD via AUR which installs the latest ALSA drivers 
to updates/ - this would give a user the possibility to use an updated 
alsa without having to rebuild the kernel, conflict with the kernel or 
having to delete files and confuse pacman.

- Random patches to drivers
It has happened that users wanted a particular feature enabled or 
changed in a particular driver. There is the phc undervolt patch and 
there is some toshiba-bluetooth patch still in our kernel. Now I don't 
like forcing patched drivers on people who don't need it, and generally, 
our community likes vanilla kernels more. With the updates/ directory it 
is possible to provide these special cases via PKGBUILDs/AUR - provided 
the change is only in the module(s) in question, one could patch it, 
build it and put it into the updates/ directory. Without having a 
patched kernel, the users could be happy - again, no kernel rebuilding 
or hacky conflicting. (In the above cases, only the acpi-cpufreq resp. 
the toshiba-acpi modules are modified ... nothing is modified in the 
kernel itself).

I already plan to maintain compat-wireless as a binary package. I will 
also put an alsa-driver-updates package into the AUR. And I will try to 
package the modified toshiba-acpi module so I can drop the patch from 
the kernel (I will also put this in AUR then).

I hope this will make life easier for us and for many users in our 
community - it is a much cleaner thing than patching the kernel all the 

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