The Linux kernel backports project aims at backporting Linux upstream device drivers for usage on older kernels. Support is provided for using backports in package form, where a tarball is provided with subsystems/drivers from future kernels, and also with direct kernel integration support, where you can use backports to directly integrate subsystems/drivers from future kernels on older kernel trees. The point of the project is to provide a central mechanism for backporting device drivers for any subsystem and enable both users and developers to always focus on upstream Linux kernel development. The backports project shall never include proprietary drivers and by design does not allow usage of itself with proprietary drivers. Every backports release has been test compiled for usage against all supported kernels, the oldest one is (currently) 3.0. Note that Linux kernel releases can become deprecated. You are encouraged to use supported stable kernels as listed on kernel.org.
Both daily snapshots based on linux-next, and stable releases based Linux's stable releases are provided. Always use the latest stable available release unless you need a feature / fix only currently available on the linux-next based release. A backports-3.x release means device drivers from the Linux v3.x release have been taken, backported and made available for you to use on any kernel version prior to the release version.
Currently backported subsystems
Device drivers are available for the following subsystems:
* Ethernet * Wireless * Bluetooth * NFC * ieee802154 * Media * Regulator
Whether or not a device driver is available from a subsytem will depend on whether or not a developer decided to backport it and if the device driver is backported down to the kernel you are on. If you see the driver on make menuconfig it means you can use it. An alternative is to look at the git tree dependencies file. Note that the dependencies does not exist on a final release, it only exists on the development git tree and the one linked here is the one on the master branch -- you should look at the release branches for their respective dependencies file if using an older release. Someone is welcome to come up with a fancy page that provides the device driver <--> kernel dependency map page. If a device driver is available on make menuconfig but is not listed on the dependencies file it means it is available for usage on all supported kernel.
Users should just install what they know they need, if not sure don't enable a driver. Typically Linux distributions would use the backports project and build modules for you and you'd have a backports package available for your distribution.
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