There are so many intricacies involved in using Linux as a daily driver desktop operating system. You need to determine if the drivers for the hardware you want to use are available, if the software you want to use is available, and if Linux is compatible with all of the different security controls you might need to manage, with things like Active Directory. reigns supreme in the corporate world.
However, there is something else that we often forget: the firmware. Firmware is the software for the hardware, configurations, and options that software can interact with in the form of drivers to enable you to use it. Are firmware updates that important? How do I get firmware updates in Linux? Why should vendors make their firmware available for Linux? These are all questions answered in this article about what LVFS is and how to use it.
What is LVFS?
LVFS, or Linux Vendor Firmware Service, is a software stack that allows hardware vendors to add their firmware to the website and cause Linux machines that use that hardware to get firmware updates. Sounds simple enough, right?
True, but the implications are more complex than a website running cronjobs and a daemon running on local systems. For years, Linux users would not have access to very basic firmware features that can enable new features and fix bugs. With LVFS, Linux users get access to features like Displayport over USB C and fixes for the Thunderbolt controller on their new Lenovo ThinkPads.
Beyond that, LVFS shows which vendors are most committed to ensuring their hardware runs well on Linux. If you look at the list of supported devices, you will notice that major vendors like Lenovo and Dell are actively adding new devices to the list and have contributed firmware updates for older devices. I personally don’t have any devices on the list, but I do know that the intersection of ThinkPad users and Linux users is pretty high, which means they come as close as possible to a first-class experience.
In addition, it creates a more complete product life cycle for suppliers. Dell can add firmware updates for all laptops and desktops under its Project Sputnik line, and Lenovo can do the same for its entire ThinkPad and ThinkStation line loaded with Linux. Everything is a win-win, both for users and for suppliers.
How to use LVFS?
There is a system daemon called
fwupd, or FirmWare UPdate Daemon, available in most major repositories. It can even be preinstalled on your system, which makes things easier.
If it’s not installed, you should be able to find the package name in the form
fwupd. If it wasn’t installed on my Fedora system, the command for it would be:
You can replace it with the package manager for your current system.
Once installed, you will need to start the service in systemd. To do this, run the following command:
You can also allow it to start automatically when you power on your system by running this command:
From there you can run the following command to see all your command options related to
You will find that the command that you most often want to use to update your firmware is:
My system does not have a compatible device, but if it does,
fwupd would work its magic and grab the updates.
Now that you know what LVFS is and how to use it, you should be more confident in building a new PC for your Linux system. You can also learn how to clean up your Linux system.
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