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The Backports Project aims to backport current Linux upstream device drivers for use with older kernels. The objective (1) is to provide a central mechanism for backporting the device drivers of any subsystem, thereby enabling (2) both users and developers to always focus on upstream Linux kernel development.

The project shall never include proprietary drivers, and is designed to disallow its use with proprietary drivers.

Every backports release has been test compiled for usage against all supported kernels. The oldest release is (currently) 3.0.

Linux kernel releases can become deprecated. You are encouraged to use supported stable kernels as listed on


Backports provides users with a choice of two workflows:

  1. kernel integration mode (documentation)
    • future kernel source tree and older kernel source tree must be present on the same machine at the same time
    • backports suite integrates the subsystems/drivers of the future kernel directly into the older kernel
  2. package releases mode (documentation)
    • future kernel source tree and older kernel source tree do not need to be present on the same machine at the same time
    • on machine hosting future kernel source tree, backport package is generated
    • on machine hosting older kernel, backport package is built out-of-tree against older kernel
    • backport package is loosely akin to a patch file

Backported Subsystems

Device drivers are available for the following subsystems:

  • Ethernet
  • Wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • ieee802154
  • Media
  • Regulator

Backported Drivers

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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