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Clearance For New Linux Wireless Driver 113

Posted by kdawson
from the room-turned-out-to-be-clean dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Software Freedom Law Center has given legal clearance to OpenHAL, a wireless component for Linux, based on their pro-bono review of the code. This announcement dispels allegations of infringement on Atheros' proprietary HAL software. 'We believe that this outcome will clear the way for eventual acceptance of a new wireless driver into the Linux kernel,' said John Linville, the Linux kernel maintainer for wireless networking."
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Clearance For New Linux Wireless Driver

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  • Excellent! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now if only we could get something decent for Broadcom hardware....
    • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blhack (921171) * on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:56PM (#20061293)

      Now if only we could get something decent for Broadcom hardware....
      we do have something decent for Broadcom hardware. Link [berlios.de]
      • by lilomar (1072448)
        that is not "decent".
        "acceptable substitute when nothing better is available" is stretching it a bit in fact.
        • by MoxFulder (159829)
          Yeah, what isn't decent about bcm43xx? Works great for me... and is very near to becoming feature-complete with respect to the Windoze drivers.
          • by arth1 (260657)

            Yeah, what isn't decent about bcm43xx? Works great for me...

            Exactly. Works great for you. It only works for some BCM43xx chipsets, that's what's not decent about it.
      • Re:Excellent! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:34PM (#20061861)
        Actually, it sucks arse.
        I have three different Broadcom chipsets supposedly handled by the drivers. One of them works well. The other two barely at all, with lots of dropouts and other problems. This on several different distros too. I invariably end up using ndiswrapper for stability and reliability.
        • by arth1 (260657)
          Amen to this. bcm43xx should not have been made available with the kernel, cause it's nowhere near production readiness for more than a few specific systems. The BCM4386 rev2 I have in my laptop simply won't play nice with bcm43xx no matter what. I can never get a connection to stay up for more than a few minutes, and I never get full 54g speed.
          On the other hand, ndiswrapper works reliably, using the Windows drivers from the laptop manufacturer's web site.
        • I've seen the same thing with the REAL drivers in Windows itself, so it's not just the reverse engineered replacement that drops things randomly sometimes.
      • by arth1 (260657)
        The bcm43xx "drivers" aren't complete drivers, and require you to obtain proprietary drivers which fwcutter cuts out a piece of, and calls when running.
        That's not native drivers any more than using ndiswrapper is, and legally on much thinner ice than calling the entire driver through a wrapper.

        And, considering that bcm43xx causes problems for a lot of users (never getting full g speed, line dropping intermittently or even freezes), I can't honestly recommend it except for experimenting by those who live som
        • by Anaerin (905998)

          The bcm43xx "drivers" aren't complete drivers, and require you to obtain proprietary drivers which fwcutter cuts out a piece of, and calls when running.

          You mean like IVTV does, then (Which has made it into the kernel doing just this?)

          fwcutter is based on reverse engineering, else it wouldn't know which parts to cut

          Says whom? Perhaps (highly unlikely but possible) they ran a (Pseudo-Code):

          For i = 1 To Length(File)
          Return = Firmware_Load(SubString(File,i,Length(File)))
          If Return Then
          Exit For
          End If
          Next
          FirmwareStart = i
          For i = FirmwareStart To (Length(File) - FirmwareStart
          Return = Firmware_Load(SubString(File,FirmwareStart,i)
          If Return Then
          Exit For
          End If
          Next
          FirmwareEnd = i

          I know, totally ridiculous, but possible...

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          silly mods...
          You are wrong.
          1) fwcutter just cuts out the firmware. Most wlan drivers today need firmware. It is completely different from using ndiswrapper. firmware doesn`t run on your cpu, a windows otoh does. The reason they made fwcutter is that the license on the firmware probably doesn't allow redistribution (or, that there is really no license info available). So in contrast to what you are posing, the drivers are native.

          2) Latest versions start to become much better on the few chipsets I own. Some a
    • by bazald (886779)

      Now if only we could rid ourselves of Broadcom hardware....
      There. I corrected that for you.
      • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by visualight (468005) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:14PM (#20062411) Homepage
        My impression of Broadcom hardware is 100% based on my experience using their products on Linux, and imo Broadcom is the suck.

        I've noticed that when an application or gadget doesn't work well on MS Windows, people blame the application or the gadget, not Windows. But those same people blame Linux for every application/gadgets shortcomings.

        There are more Desktops running Linux everyday though and one day vendors will start to realize that when their hardware "doesn't work" on Linux *a lot* of people will see that as a reflection of their product, not the Linux Kernel.

        For myself, I don't even address driver stability in conversation anymore, I just go straight to "vendor x makes crap hardware".

        • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pintpusher (854001) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @04:41PM (#20062755) Journal
          you know that's pretty insightful, IMO. I didn't really realize this was how I felt until you just said it. When I was a windows only guy, I blamed the hardware, or worse, just assumed it couldn't be done (despite knowing better). I never was at the point where a _blamed_ linux, just understood that it hadn't caught up with the hardware yet. Now that linux has caught up with all my hardware and almost all the hardware I've encountered out in the world, I more and more blame the hardware for failures on my linux machines. I've come to trust the code to work.
        • by Sancho (17056)
          I really can't believe that you got modded Insightful.

          Although hardware and driver design can be tightly coupled, the quality of one does not imply anything about the quality of the other. For example, I've always considered Nvidia to make pretty good hardware. For a really long time, they did not provide a Linux driver. By your logic, it would seem, "Nvidia made crap hardware." Right up until someone decided to flip a switch and loose their driver upon the Linux community. By your reasoning, flipping
          • WWWWWWhhhhooooosshh.

            "But it's not a hardware problem."

            No kidding. Did anything in my comment imply that I do not understand this? My comment was about market forces, consumer pressure on Vendors to perform when it comes to support what I argue (in the same comment) is an operating system that is becoming more mainstream everyday. This is a trend that Linux does not share with BSD, Win95, Amiga, and the Commodore Vic20.

            In other words I'm suggesting that IF it is reasonable for a consumer to expect his web
            • by Sancho (17056)

              No kidding. Did anything in my comment imply that I do not understand this?

              Yes. I think it was the part where you said:

              I just go straight to "vendor x makes crap hardware".

              I read your entire post the first time. You certainly made clear that you know what the problem is, right up until the last statement. My Nvidia analogy should have indicated that I understood that--i.e. flipping a switch magically made the hardware not crap anymore. The problem is that you seem to put forth information which may be a false conclusion based on poor analysis. You'll say "X makes crap hardware" when it's not necessarily the hardware that's at

              • Dude.

                "I just go straight to..." is obviously skipping a step. Nothing vague, no indication that I"m unaware of the step I skipped.

                "you favorite OS.." carries an implication of niche, which I have emphatically denied. It is not "favorite os", it is an O/S that *was* niche, but now is *not*. I'll frame my own rhetoric, thanks.

                If someone using Windows bitched about his dongle not working and he blamed the manufacturer for sell him junk, you would not be harping on him (I assert).

                I AM ARGUING THAT LINUX HAS
                • by Sancho (17056)

                  If someone using Windows bitched about his dongle not working and he blamed the manufacturer for sell him junk, you would not be harping on him (I assert).

                  It may be true for a lot of people, because Windows is such a dominant OS. I, however, acknowledge the difference.

                  Back when I still ran Windows, I had the displeasure of owning an ATI All-in-Wonder graphics card. Periodic reinstalls were a chore, because the drivers were quite unstable. Install them in the wrong order, and pieces of your card wouldn't work (video capture, perhaps, or syncing with audio.) Install them before certain codecs were installed in Windows and the driver seemingly failed to und

        • by sh3l1 (981741)

          For myself, I don't even address driver stability in conversation anymore, I just go straight to "vendor x makes crap hardware".


          x = "NETGEAR"
          • Funny you mention them...I no longer buy or recommend Netgear because there was always some little corner of functionality which did not work, to put it simply. From getting the time sych from a server that quit providing it to not actually forwarding ports to not actually being able to use 802.11g channels higher than 9, every NG product I've owned had functionality which was later found to be misprogrammed in the firmware -and typically never fixed. So, is that a hardware issue or a software issue?
        • by Movi (1005625)
          But i have to add: there is some hardware that works better with Linux than windows (due to buggy driver software for Windows). Prime examples are printers : i shudder everytime i have to install another "set" of HP Printer drivers :(. Also, my cx28xx card (unless one can use it with DScaler 3) and my Logitech MX1000 mouse (evdev rocks)
    • by rbanffy (584143)
      I am running a HP DV6205us with Broadcom wireless and Ubuntu Feisty with the Gutsy kernel (2.6.22-8). My wireless interface works flawlessly. Under the Feisty kernel it appears to work, but refuses to connect.

      Hope that helps.
      • by ericrost (1049312)
        Is that amd64? I have a dv9200 series with broadcom and an amd64, and even with the ndiswrapper it has to be both soft and hard disabled/reenabled before it will connect to WPA encrypted (read encryption that can't be broken in 30 seconds by a script kiddie) networks.
        • by kwark (512736)
          And for more anecdotal stuff: the Broadcom in my tx1120 only works with ndiswrapper but luckily it works well (Debian unstable/amd64, with a driver acquired from Dell :).

          But the worst part is that I saw this problem coming well before I bought the laptop, but since wireless is on a mini pci-e bus I thought I could simply replace it with a (hopefully) better supported card. But an Intel 3945ABG card doesn't seem to work on this machine, even worse is that HP's helpdesk just sucks (your time and energy) if y
        • by rbanffy (584143)
          Core Duo here. 2.6.22.-8 works flawlessly with WPA - I am using it right now.

          $ cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep 'model name'
          model name : Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2250 @ 1.73GHz
          model name : Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2250 @ 1.73GHz

          $ uname -srv
          Linux 2.6.22-8-generic #1 SMP Thu Jul 12 15:59:45 GMT 2007

          $ lsmod | grep bcm43xx
          bcm43xx 127336 0
          ieee80211softmac 31360 1 bcm43xx
          ieee80211 35656 2 bcm43xx,ieee80211softmac
          • by ericrost (1049312)
            Maybe I'll give bcm43xx another try. It "worked" at the initial release of feisty, but I got horrible packet loss and the speed was unusable. Network-manager has a problem or two with the ndiswrapper, like I said in my OP, I have to both soft and hard disable and reenable the wireless on the initial boot and coming back from hibernate to connect to a WPA network (it'll default to any unencrypted network it can find before I do that, but won't finish a connection to my home network).

            At the very least, some o
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoxFulder (159829)
      If you care about having high-quality open-source drivers for your wireless card, it's a no-brainer... go with Ralink or Realtek-based cards, since those companies have gone out of their way to provide specs and help write drivers. Or even Atheros or Intel, which have also worked hard to satisfy the open-source communities, though both have kept a proprietary core out of regulatory compliance worries (that's what OpenHAL is about, replacing the proprietary core of the Atheros drivers).

      But *definitely* don'
      • by Sledgy (133446)
        I've been very impressed with madwifi's atheros support. I am running a number of cards based on their chipsets for various purposes.

        They also have a large list of supported hardware on their site http://madwifi.org/wiki/Compatibility [madwifi.org]
      • by deragon (112986)
        Correction, the open source Realtek driver (r818x) is broken. I cannot get my Realtek to work with it. Nor does it work with the latest version of the Windows driver and multiple versions of ndiswrapper. The r818x driver is on Ubuntu's blacklist (/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist) because of its sad state. Seams that the open source driver is not supported anymore. I strongly recommend people not to purchase Realtek based cards.
        • by MoxFulder (159829)

          Correction, the open source Realtek driver (r818x) is broken. I cannot get my Realtek to work with it. Nor does it work with the latest version of the Windows driver and multiple versions of ndiswrapper. The r818x driver is on Ubuntu's blacklist (/etc/modprobe.d/blacklist) because of its sad state. Seams that the open source driver is not supported anymore. I strongly recommend people not to purchase Realtek based cards.

          That is true, the r818x driver is most certainly broken. Though it is *NOT* for lack of specs and information from Realtek, which actually provided a lot of support. It is mainly that the maintainer of the Realtek drivers stopped working on them and nobody picked it up again until very recently. There is now active development ongoing at: http://rtl-wifi.sf.net/ [sf.net]

          See their History page for more info on the drivers: http://rtl-wifi.sourceforge.net/wiki/History [sourceforge.net]

  • Go SFLC! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lost+Found (844289) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:58PM (#20061317)
    I was really sad to hear that Eben Moglen was leaving the FSF. I knew about SFLC, but always wondered if they would do much. On the contrary, it seems like SFLC has actually been active and done some great things in its short time as an organization. The conservancy is a great idea too!
  • by Trigun (685027) <[xc.hta.eripmelive] [ta] [live]> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:02PM (#20061381)
    When you have to clear your code with lawyers. The best part of it is that if it were a closed source blob, this step wouldn't really be necessary.
  • oblig (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    OpenHAL: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.
  • some history (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:07PM (#20061441) Journal
    back in the 80s, kodak developed an instant film,and to make sure it was not infringing the polaroid patent suite, kodak paid for opinions from 3 seperate law firms

    Polaroid sued, Kodak lost, and the opinions did not help them one little bit

    or, would you bet your mortgage on the law center getting it right ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by itachi0x0 (1118873)
      According to TFA, they did a code audit on both the open and closed source drivers. That's a bit more rigorous than an opinion on a patent, IMO.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KokorHekkus (986906)
        And of course any review must also be judged on the merits of those who stand behind it. In this case the Software Freedom Law Center which has Eben Moglen as chairman (just in case you missed who that guy is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Moglen [wikipedia.org]). I'd probably trust what SFLC says more than what most corporations says.
    • by Moniker42 (1131485) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:43PM (#20061973)
      You can always get experts to agree with you as long as you find the right experts. It reminds me of a scene from "Yes, Prime Minister". Hope I'm not posting too much here but it's a great scene ;)

      Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
      Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
      Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
      Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
      Bernard Woolley: "How?"
      Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
      Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
      Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."
      • Great series,

                made great fun of some very dark topics. Pity the UK public were too stupid to see it as anything more than a comedy. I mean Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown have never run anything more complex than a corner shop and then magically they can run the country? Next you'll be telling me voting makes a difference!
        • I'm from the UK! I think you're being more than a little opinionated there by consigning the whole UK public to the idiot bin for not electing a government based on a satirical tv programme. Then again I think "Spitting Image" might have had a greater role than some realise in bringing down Thatcher. Granted, I'm only 17 and not old enough to have voted then (not even now) but as critical as TV programmes are they can only play a small role in bringing down a government that was elected by a majority of peo
          • I did not elect Bush, I'm a UK citizen not US. Although in truth I'd love to be a citizen of the world with no affiliations to any country.

            Public opinion is formed by the media, very few people are able to think outside the left/right of politics or indeed the good/bad of morals. The tripe served up in the papers and by the TV news is directed at those who have a comprehension age of seven. You think advertisers spend all that money because it only has a minimal effect?

            The Blair/Thatcher governments were
        • > Great series, made great fun of some very dark topics. Pity the UK public were too
          > stupid to see it as anything more than a comedy.

          Err...were we?

          I don't think I know a single person who watched the series who thought it was anything less than a very observant, expertly written & acted satire.

          "Satire (from Latin satura, not from the Greek figure satyr[1]) is a literary genre, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censur
          • So 20+ years ago the UK public were shown just how inept and corrupt their ruling institutions really were and what happened? Has anything changed for the better? Yet the UK public continue to pat themselves on the back for a job well done! They deserve everything that is coming!

            I actually like Major, apparently at his first meeting of his cabinet after the leadership battle his first words were 'Well, who would have believed it?'. Also when the IRA mortar bombed the cabinet office he apparently was ver
            • > So 20+ years ago the UK public were shown just how inept and corrupt their ruling
              > institutions really were and what happened? Has anything changed for the better?

              No, it's become worse. People really weren't prepared for the spin strategy that is New Labour's (particularly Blair's) trademark.

              Ultimately, I agree the population's at fault. Somewhere along the line people became apathetic, and stopped taking an interest in politics other than the minor interests that affected them directly. They div
              • Most of the items we agree on, but a couple of points.

                The problem with Major having an affair was not so much that he had one, but that he showed such appalling taste in who to have one with. Short of the queen mum his choice was about the worst possible. No spin, save confessing to a whole list affairs, would have saved him from public contempt. In a way similar to Clinton a few years later.

                The point on lack of leadership was the lack of commercial leadership. Political leadership very rarely requires
                • > The problem with Major having an affair was not so much that he had one, but that he showed such
                  > appalling taste in who to have one with.

                  No disagreement here. :)

                  > The point on lack of leadership was the lack of commercial leadership. Political leadership very
                  > rarely requires the skills of state leadership.

                  I disagree with the current popular emphasis on the "all-knowing" commercial sector.

                  Commercial leadership, like military leadership, can result in a number of very useful transferable leade
      • J K Galbreath says something to this effect in his very amusing advice to a young bearuacrat, excuse spelling errors
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by radarjd (931774)

      back in the 80s, kodak developed an instant film,and to make sure it was not infringing the polaroid patent suite, kodak paid for opinions from 3 seperate law firms. Polaroid sued, Kodak lost, and the opinions did not help them one little bit

      I looked up the case you mentioned, and you're right that Kodak lost the case, however, Kodak's pre-lawsuit opinions likely saved them from damages due to willful infringement. In a patent case, treble damages are awarded for willfull infringement -- that's where the money is. While an infringer will have to cease infringement, and will likely have to purchase a license, only a willful infringer pays treble damages as punishment. By seeking outside opinions, Kodak likely saved themselves treble damages,

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        For those who don't understand the word treble in this context (as it has nothing to do with music) it means triple. I had to look it up to be sure. If you mean triple, why not just say triple? It's a word everyone understands.
        • maybe its a british thing. i'm british and i think as a child i learnt treble long before triple, to mean three times something.
    • Re:some history (Score:5, Informative)

      by darkmeridian (119044) <william.chuang@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:19PM (#20063209) Homepage
      Kodak saved $1.8 BILLION dollars by hiring lawyers to conduct thorough reviews of the technology and patents.

      If you willfully infringe someone's patent, you can get up to three times the damages you incurred. This is to dissuade people from knowingly and intentionally infringing on someone's patent and simply paying actual damages. (This would be a kind of forced royalty.) Having attorneys analyze your product, search for relevant patents, and study both then swear up and down you do not infringe argues against willful infringement.

      Kodak's attorneys were wrong when they said the products didn't infringe, but they conducted a thorough review in good faith. The court found that Polaroid was not entitled to treble damages on these facts because there was no showing of willful infringement.

      Up until 2004, failure to obtain opinion of counsel was a sign that you willfully infringed a patent you knew about. Now the lack of an opinion of counsel is just a sign you willfully infringed.

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=htt p%3A%2F%2Fwww.mmmlaw.com%2Farticles%2Farticle_234. pdf&ei=36WvRun2MYKceaCbyYQG&usg=AFQjCNElqULOs3YimA zIWiRf3e-WS0LrKw&sig2=QptmOxEHX6EUKFrrG3RvYQ [google.com]
    • An opinion of non-infringement from competent counsel is a valid defense to willful patent infringement. If a party is found to have willfully infringed another's patent, the damages against it can be enhanced (i.e. tripled). On the other hand, if the party has a proper non-infringement opinion, the damages might not be tripled. Companies like Kodak only pay for non-infringement opinions to avoid having to pay triple damages and not because the opinions have any substantive value. Everyone understands t
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bigpicture (939772)
      We have to make a distinction between patent and copyright. The Kodak / Polaroid issue was most likely a patent dispute about material processes. Patent disputes over software do not have the same firm legal foundation, and are less likely to end up in court. It was probably the copyright infringement part that got cleared by some sort of prior art search.
    • by greensoap (566467)
      IMNAL, but opinions are not designed to protect you from losing an infringement case. They do, however, usually help for showing that there was not willful infringement. (Willful infringement gets you the 3x damage multiplier.)
  • Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by physicsnick (1031656) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:07PM (#20061445)
    I am the proud owner of a D-Link wireless card, and as much as I love this card, I hate having to use a binary blob to make it work. Ubuntu's the only distribution I've found that works well out of the box with this card because of the streamlined restricted modules.

    Here's hoping this makes it into the kernel soon!
    • I am the proud owner of a D-Link wireless card, and as much as I love this card, I hate having to use a binary blob to make it work.

      Have you considered replacing your poorly-supported hardware? Fully functional hardware is readily available and cheap, there's no reason to futz with hardware from companies that don't really want your business.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 313373_bot (766001)
        I half-agree, half-disagree here :-)

        On one hand, if you are going to buy some piece of hardware, by all means prefer FOSS-friendly products: less trouble for you and a nudge to the market in the right direction. On the other hand, if you already own a fully functional but non FOSS-friendly equipment, why be wasteful? Reverse-engineering and/or demanding FOSS support are legitimate ways to put pressure in the market too.
        • On the other hand, if you already own a fully functional but non FOSS-friendly equipment, why be wasteful?

          How much of your time is it worth to avoid spending $30 on a new wireless card? Are you going to waste other people's time too by complaining on the community support forums that your known-dysfunctional card doesn't work?

          If you're actually going to personally reverse engineer the card and write a FOSS driver, that's great. My guess is that you're not going to do that - instead you're going to spend

          • Well, let's clarify a point or two...

            On the other hand, if you already own a fully functional but non FOSS-friendly equipment, why be wasteful?

            How much of your time is it worth to avoid spending $30 on a new wireless card? Are you going to waste other people's time too by complaining on the community support forums that your known-dysfunctional card doesn't work?

            When I said "wasteful", I wasn't thinking solely in terms of monetary value. Of course, if you make $5/hr then a $30 card costs you 6 hours of wor

            • When I said "wasteful", I wasn't thinking solely in terms of monetary value.

              If you're worried about wasting the old card, give it to a friend who runs Windows. Or sell it on eBay.

              If you're worried about the environmental impact of being involved in the purchase of an "unnecessary" wireless card, then maybe you should chose to put more effort into getting it to work. It doesn't mean that you deserve any more sympathy if your attempt fails. Or sell the old card on eBay, and replace a new card sale that way.

      • Fully functional hardware is readily available and cheap

        Is there a regularly-updated list around, anywhere, of what wireless hardware is well supported under particular distributions, and whether it has drivers in the kernel, or from some additional source, or requires binary blobs?

        The problem I've always had is that whenever I go to a store to buy a WL card, there are always 10 different ones on the shelves, none of which I've ever heard of, and I can never find any of the supposedly-compatible ones around.

        It's not hard to find reports where people will say "oh, yeah, my FOO3549 works perfectly, right out of the box!" but then if you try to go to a store and buy a FOO3549, you'll find out it was discontinued six months ago and replaced with the FOO3649, which uses some totally different, highly proprietary chipset, that there's no support for. (Heck, sometimes they don't even bother to change the model numbers.)

        This isn't entirely the fault of Linux or any of the OSS driver developers, but it is a major fucking pain in the ass to buy Linux-compatible wireless cards, and I have a stack of incompatible ones sitting around as a testament to this. I've basically given up -- finally I realized that wireless internet was more frustration than it's worth, and I bought a 500' spool of CAT-5e plenum cable and started drilling holes throughout my house. At least running cables feels like a solvable problem. (Hint: the easiest way to run Ethernet between floors is to route it through the heating ducts...particularly if your walls are all insulated.)

        But as far as I know, there's no good centralized repository of information concerning the compatibility of different models, or even of which models have which chipsets. It's all scattered around the internet in a dozen different wikis and forums.
    • by meiao (846890)
      I have a DWL G122 USB wireless adapter.
      I tried 2 drivers (first was plain wrong, and ndiswrapper worked for 15 seconds and hung my system) and 2 OSs (FreeBSD and Ubuntu).

      Switched back to Debian, found out that the rt2750 driver would work and it did.
      I just think that the usb connector is faulty and disconnects from time to time (or maybe the driver is not good enough).
  • oh HAL! (Score:4, Funny)

    by fattmatt (1042156) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:08PM (#20061461)
    I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.
  • People and organisations are going to extremely far lengths to do this kind of thing, a lot of the time for no direct monetary gain. The code is out there for people to study, use and improve. Lots of FOSS code is under terms like the BSD licenses which allow incorporation in non-free, secret, undisclosed code. When efforts like this are going on it amazes me that Microsoft's FUD campaigns about FOSS still seem to be taken seriously by the mainstream media (try finding a recent mainstream story about Linux
  • pro-bono

    Collin: I just moved here from Ireland, my father's a musician.

    Lisa: Is he...

    Collin: (laughs) No, he's not Bono.

    Lisa: (blushing) Well I just since since you're Irish...

    Collin: He's NOT Bono!
    • Colin normally has only has one 'L'. Adding an extra 'L' is a common mistake made by native German speakers. Since almost 95 per cent of Americans are of German descent one can appreciate how extensive the difference in language is between those who speak English and those who speak US English.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin [wikipedia.org]
      'Collins' with two 'Ls' is a surname common to Scotland and Ireland. Mr William Collins was a famous Scottish language dictionary publisher (now part of HarperCollins empire) and p
  • Linux? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:52PM (#20062095) Journal
    I wondered how this compared to the Atheros HAL developed for OpenBSD, so I googled. This is what I found on the MadWifi page:

    OpenHAL is an open source implementation of Atheros HAL. It was originally written from Reyk Floeter for OpenBSD, known by the name "ar5k". An effort is underway to port OpenHAL to Linux and make it compatible with MadWifi.
    So, why is this article in the Linux category, when it's talking about the legal status of an OpenBSD driver that will eventually be ported to Linux? Possibly because TFA described it as:

    a wireless network component for Linux
    This leads me to doubt their ability to say anything authoritative about the origin of the code.
    • by ajs (35943)

      So, why is this article in the Linux category, when it's talking about the legal status of an OpenBSD driver that will eventually be ported to Linux?

      You claim to have read TFA, but... don't seem to have.

      The Linux Wireless developers asked the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) to investigate ...

      "Our ultimate goal is to have full support for Atheros devices included in the Linux kernel," said Luis Rodriguez, a Linux Wireless developer. ...

      Yeah, this is about Linux, not BSD, even though the driver was originally developed for BSD.

      Obviously the BSD guys benefit from this review of their legal standing too, but that's not the point of the article.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Thyrteen (1084963)
        Ah, sure! but as soon as OpenBSD starts porting the broadcom driver in CVS, the linux guys all scream foul play! I see how the ball rolls! *holds up flak shield* -- Free sarcasm, no purchase necessary.
        • by ajs (35943)

          Ah, sure! but as soon as OpenBSD starts porting the broadcom driver in CVS, the linux guys all scream foul play!
          You're clearly not responding to what I said, since I made no judgment about anyone's behavior. I was only pointing out that we are, in fact, talking about the Linux driver developers, not the BSD driver developers.
  • Is this a joke?

    ...said John Linville, the Linux kernel maintainer for wireless networking...
    • Is this a joke?

      ...said John Linville, the Linux kernel maintainer for wireless networking...
      No, that is not a joke. You read too much into things, fail.
      • by fbartho (840012)
        hmpf. Henry Kissinger: "Even a paranoid can have enemies."

        plus I just thought it was a funny coincidence.

        --Whoops, did I say that? I meant:

        I don't believe you, you must be one of them!
        Mom!!? DoubleLayer the tinfoil!
  • Does Atheros agree? On paper?

    If not, queue the lawsuits in 5...4...3..2..1

  • by racyrefinedraj (981243) <[evilhecubus] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @05:32PM (#20063369)
    From what I understand (and from what the Madwifi wiki tells [madwifi.org] me), the current HAL is closed source because the Atheros chipset has the technical capabilities to broadcast out of the legal range of spectrum allowed by the FCC and similar bodies. Wouldn't distributing OpenHal be illegal? The SFLC seems to answer a different question in TFA - what about the legal ramifications of distributing a free software HAL in the first place?
    • Whoa whoa! If you're saying Atheros broadcasts too far, what would the FCC say about my two Hormel Chili cans soldered together, artistically painted and decorated, with a confirmed distance of 5.1061 miles. [wifi-shootout.com]
      • by choongiri (840652)

        He said "the legal range of spectrum", i.e. it has the capability (in hardware) to broadcast frequencies that are not permitted, and only the software prevents it from doing so. This has nothing to do with signal range, which is affected by power output and - as you know - antenna design. An open implementation that had frequency or power restrictions implemented in software would be a trivial matter to override. That said, I would be surprised if the fact that it's possible to change the code and recompile

    • From what I understand

      [..]

      the current HAL is closed source because the Atheros chipset has the technical capabilities to broadcast out of the legal range of spectrum allowed by the FCC and similar bodies. Wouldn't distributing OpenHal be illegal?

      I can search the Internet using Google with Firefox for instructions on how to do any number of illegal things. This apparent "ability to be illegal" has never precluded me from having Firefox (Iceweasel) in Debian.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)
      Yup. Just because the SFLC has determined that Atheros will have trouble suing the developers (it's no guarantee that they can't - see previous comments regarding Kodak and legal opinions) doesn't mean that the FCC won't decide to start smacking someone around over this issue.

      After all, the reason consistently stated by Atheros for the closed HAL is that the FCC would nail them if they opened it up. I don't blame them - the FCC could easily put them out of business.
  • Always hated downloading the "restriced" modules & using Automatix2, which OT, I have found can really break Ubuntu. so how would you install the OSS version ? is it in Ubuntu Repositories [non restrcited]? Jeff
  • Last November, SFLC already said basically the same thing [iu.edu]. Does anyone know what is really new here?

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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