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Open Source Wireless Networking Linux

Broadcom Releases Source Code For Drivers 350

Posted by timothy
from the they-sure-get-my-goodwill dept.
I'm Not There (1956) writes "Broadcom, the world's largest manufacturer of Wi-Fi transceivers, open sources its Linux device drivers. This is a big win for Linux users, as there are a lot of users that face Wi-Fi problems when they use Linux on their laptops. With these device drivers now open source, distributions can ship them out-of-the-box, and that means no Linux Wi-Fi problems for new devices and upcoming distributions at all."
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Broadcom Releases Source Code For Drivers

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  • This is fantastic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Demanufacture (113381) <Demanufacture@spac[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:43PM (#33526512)

    Congratulations Broadcom, you have just made at least one geek very happy.

    While you're at it, any chance of releasing the source for your video decoders? I promise that you will own the HTPC market if you do.

    • by dubbreak (623656)

      Congratulations Broadcom, you have just made at least one geek very happy.

      It would be more if they had done this years ago. I have many not so fond memories of trying to configure broadcom cards under linux. I can partially blame the status of my hair on broadcom wireless cards.

      Broadcom, you owe me sleep retroactively and some thicker hair!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by grub (11606)

        I can partially blame the status of my hair on broadcom wireless cards.

        Broadcom wireless cards made you get a Brazilian wax? Weird.

        ...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Well yeah. Getting a Brazilian was listed as an important step on the forum I was using to get my wireless card working. And I got it working so the wax job must have helped, right?
    • Re:This is fantastic (Score:5, Informative)

      by BobNET (119675) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:05PM (#33526784)

      While you're at it, any chance of releasing the source for your video decoders?

      You mean like this [broadcom.com], or something else?

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:44PM (#33526522) Journal
    Broadcom wirelss. Cause of a 100 page thread [ubuntuforums.org] on the Ubuntu forums (and innumerable posts elsewhere) by people trying to get those bloody cards working under Linux.

    So speaking as one of the many sufferers, how long before I can just slap Linux on an old Acer laptop and expect the wireless to just work?
    • by Rashkae (59673)

      Probably too late for Ubuntu 10.10, but I would expect these to be included with 11.04

      • by djdanlib (732853)

        This seems like the kind of major win that would be worth delaying Ubuntu 10.10 for.

        • by scrib (1277042)

          Even if it doesn't delay it, they could opt to ship with a "probably works" driver. A driver that might not work for all machines or that might break under certain conditions is far better than the current "no driver" situation. If it worked just well enough to connect and download an update, that would be great!

    • by melikamp (631205)
      Hehe I am not a hardware kind of guy, but I've known of Broadcom chipsets for years and years, thanks to what seemed like a tireless effort to make their cards incompatible with Linux. This is a tremendous good news for the free software community. I think that we are at a place now where we should take a dysfunctional open-source driver over an apparently (!) perfect closed-sourced blob, since the latter is COMPLETELY useless in production due to the security considerations.
      • by tepples (727027)

        we should take a dysfunctional open-source driver over an apparently (!) perfect closed-sourced blob, since the latter is COMPLETELY useless in production due to the security considerations.

        If this is true, it's only because Linux has no way to sandbox network drivers. Would a microkernel work better at this?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by melikamp (631205)
          A great question. From the security standpoint, a working microkernel would make it possible to run some binary blobs safely, but, and this is really interesting, not a network driver. Never. Such a driver does not need to escalate anything. By definition, it already has the ultimate access to one piece of hardware that allows it to see all raw network traffic and connect in perfect secrecy to any host on the net. Secrecy from the OS, of course, not from a forensic tool down the wire, but the latter one can
    • by miknix (1047580) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:01PM (#33526724) Homepage

      $ lspci
      (...)
      03:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN (rev 02)

      $ lsmod | grep b43
      b43 153329 0
      rng_core 3158 1 b43
      mac80211 128164 1 b43
      ssb 33383 1 b43

      My broadcom BCM5311 has been working just fine using the b43 drivers included in Linux; they are there for quite some time..
      Good news for everyone though. This means new broadcom hardware support and improvement of current GPLd drivers.

      • by andrewd18 (989408)
        From the B43 development website [linuxwireless.org]:

        not working yet * IEEE 802.11n

        That's all 802.11n devices. You know, those things that have been on the market for like 2 or 3 years? From TFA:

        Broadcom would like to announce the initial release of a fully-open Linux driver for it's latest generation of 11n chipsets.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by miknix (1047580)

          I don't usually reply to trolls but..

          From the B43 development website [linuxwireless.org]:

          not working yet * IEEE 802.11n

          That's all 802.11n devices. You know, those things that have been on the market for like 2 or 3 years? From TFA:

          IEEE 802.11n is obviously backwards compatible with 802.11b/g, meaning that 802.11n chipsets should work with 802.11b/g protocols in b43.

          Besides, I was just informing people that the Broadcom BCM4311 *802.11b/g* (in case you missed it) works just fine with b43. 802.11n support or not, it doesn't change that fact.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by arth1 (260657)

            IEEE 802.11n is obviously backwards compatible with 802.11b/g, meaning that 802.11n chipsets should work with 802.11b/g protocols in b43.

            Yes and no. This is only the case if the access point has fallback to the 2.4 GHz band, not if it runs exclusively in the 5 GHz band.

            I have two access points with 802.11 a/n, and can't connect to them with a b43 driver. I had to reconnect my old 802.11 b/g access point for that.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:05PM (#33526780) Homepage

      I've never really understood: why don't more hardware companies open the source for their drivers? Is there super-secret special source in the drivers that they're trying to prevent their competitors from learning? Is it an issue of patents?

      It seems to me that drivers are an instance where opening the source should be a no-brainer. It's not like an application, where you're trying to sell the software. People still need to buy your hardware to make use of the drivers, so it's not like your customers will be inclined to stop buying things from you. I would image you could drastically lower the cost of supporting the drivers by opening them, though. You'll probably increase quality at the same time.

      I'm sure I'm missing something, though. Would someone enlighten me?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by networkBoy (774728)

        Often these drivers connect to registers in the hardware that are *not* public knowledge. In the case of WiFi and other "firmware" radios the driver often contains DSP code that would normally be in Si but is now in loadable firmware, thus the manufacturers want to keep that a secret.
        -nB

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Is that DSP code licensed from a third party or some sort of unpatentable trade secret?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ogi_UnixNut (916982)

            I believe one of the reasons is that you must not be able to program your wifi cards radio to work on unauthorized frequencies. This is a FCC requirement. This is one of the reasons that the excellent madwifi driver still needs a binary blob (although the devs have access to the firmware source code, it was by NDA only).

            If you have the ability to modify the firmware, you can make it violate regulations. For example, if you hack the madwifi driver you can make some cards work up to 100mW of power (limit whe

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ScrewMaster (602015) *

              If you had the firmware source code you could all sorts of crazy stuff that would be against regulations.

              Yes. I run Tomato on my WRT54G. It has an option to directly set the desired output power in milliwatts. Don't know how accurate it is, but it does do something. I actually used that feature to reduce the power output. I set it to provide good connectivity throughout the house, yet make it very difficult to get a connection outside.

              Nevertheless, I don't like the idea of the FCC essentially requiring hardware vendors to keep source code proprietary when even the vendor wants to release it. That's not the

      • by FrankSchwab (675585) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:22PM (#33526988) Journal

        My company manufactures devices for PCs. We do NOT open source our drivers; I'll give you my two cents as to why:

        1. Licensing. Our drivers include licensed code from at least two other companies - code that implements algorithms seen as proprietary and valuable by those companies. We don't have the right to publish that code, and couldn't conceivably convince them to do so.
        2. Competitive advantage. We have several competitors in our market. The specs that Marketing puts on our datasheets might be optimistic in some scenarios. If we open-sourced our drivers, our competitors could easily demonstrate that to potential customers - if their drivers were closed, we would not have the equivalent opportunity to prove that their liars were worse than our liars.
        3. Support. If we publish source, we will end up fielding all kinds of questions from all kinds of people about all kinds of aspects of our product. Even if we simply answer "Go away" to all those queries, there's a lot of time spent reading and replying (or simply ignoring) them. Considering that we sell our products to OEMs for a few dollars, there just isn't any margin for end user support.
        4. Security. Say what you will about "security through obscurity", it still has a huge following in the corporate world. Publishing all your source code provides all kinds of opportunities for the scoundrels of the world to take advantage, from the PHB point of view.
        5. Financial. There is no business case to be made to disclose this proprietary information. If I'm not going to make money from something, why should I spend the time/effort to open source it, and perhaps give away information that my competitor could use?

        In Broadcom's case, there are probably others also - for example, publishing source for a Wireless card could allow operating the RF section beyond regulatory limits - transmitting/receiving out of band, transmitting with too much power, etc. This could jeopardize certification (such as FCC certification in the US) or subject the company to unwanted regulatory scrutiny.

        Does this help?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:41PM (#33527176)

          If I had mod points I would have gladded modded you up, though only for your first point. I feel the rest are either washes (you mention bad potential problems without mentioning the potential good ones) or things that are borderline illegal (or should be).

          1. Great point, can't argue this one.
          2. Is the spirit of fraud, if commonplace and within the letter of the law, and should not be tolerated.
          3. Support, if your source is good enough, other people (the community) will actually do your support for you in many cases.
          4. Do I actually need to pick this point apart? While it is correct that many PHB believe it, it isn't actually true.
          5. There are plenty of business cases to be made for doing so. Free (unpaid by you at any rate) coders improving your device, and depending on license, being required to make those improvements available to you for starters.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:47PM (#33527246) Journal

          1. Licensing. Our drivers include licensed code from at least two other companies - code that implements algorithms seen as proprietary and valuable by those companies.

          Release the rest, and provide descriptions of the missing algorithms. They'll be reimplemented in a week.

          if their drivers were closed, we would not have the equivalent opportunity to prove that their liars were worse than our liars.

          So don't lie.

          3. Support. If we publish source, we will end up fielding all kinds of questions from all kinds of people about all kinds of aspects of our product.

          Really? Do you think end users are really going to contact Broadcom? Or are they just going to go to the Ubuntu forums like they have been.

          4. Security.

          We all know that's bullshit.

          5. Financial. There is no business case to be made to disclose this proprietary information.

          But there is. Before today, if I wanted a wifi router I would only buy one with Atheros chips. Now I will seriously consider a Broadcom based product. I had never run ATI cards before they open sourced their drivers in 2007. Now I have an ATI card.

          • by FrankSchwab (675585) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:17PM (#33527580) Journal

            1. I should spend a month or two of engineering time to write specifications for a block that isn't part of my core competency?
            2. Don't take "liar" literally. Marketing is always guilty of Puffery, and in the US this is acceptable. Datasheets always have specifications which, if taken out of context or tested outside the conditions in the tiny print, can be proven wrong. In the market, to remain a viable business, you have to "puff" as much as your competitors do - look at beer, cigarette, car, computer advertising. A company that lets the Engineering department write the marketing materials doesn't survive long. Frankly, our materials are a whole lot closer to reality than our competitors - we've never published wholesale lies, to the best of my knowledge, which isn't always true of those I've competed against.
            3. Yes, really.
            4. Yes, I know that's bullshit. Tell that to my CEO and CFO.
            5. OK, we'll lose your business - that's $3 worth of revenue that we won't receive, once. We hope that you'll see the value of our products in the future and be willing to consider us then.

            • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@anaLISPsaz ... m minus language> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:40PM (#33527840)

              1. I should spend a month or two of engineering time to write specifications for a block that isn't part of my core competency?

              Don't try to describe it all, just point out that function calls X/Y/Z are used, point them out, and talk about what they're expected to do.

              I don't believe the "implemented in a week" claim, but at least someone could build a black box that might meet your needs. If you said, "This sorts the $FLORBS", or "This needs to quickly calculate checksums for integrity" or "This needs to do ${COMPLICATED_MATH} quickly on ${STUFF}", people can at least try to implement it. An inefficient but working implementation will meet some people's needs, even if your proprietary drivers use code thich has been heavily optimized for speed, reliability, or correctness. Assuming anyone cares enough to write them.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Svartalf (2997)

              1) Uh... Don't you document your device's interfaces so you can code to them? If not...heh...remind me not to buy your company's tech... >;-D

              2) Puffery is puffery. And worrying about this is in the same vein as the security argument. If you can have a bad situation because of flaws in the framework, what else is broken. I'd not use your product. Keep in mind, though, with me you're likely to be talking 10k+ units worth of revenue if I'm the guy you're talking to. If you're doing this, you may wel

          • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:45PM (#33527864) Homepage

            1. Is usually not that easy, if it's licensed for use in the driver there might be bits of it many places. It'll take developer time and lawyer time to do, or you could risk a huge lawsuit.

            2. Being the honest loser of an OEM contract doesn't put food on the table.

            3. Common end users? No. But certainly some developers in the community will start asking hard questions and expect answers. If the driver isn't working well enough, the negative PR will hit the company, possibly worse than if they had no driver at all.

            4. It doesn't matter if we "know" it's bullshit, as long as PHBs believe it

            5. Invisible and unmeasurable sales. Nobody will know and can put in a business case that this is why you bought that router.

            I see a lot of these answers, that just say "well it's not a technical problem, so it's not real". Legal liability, losing contracts, bad PR, security concerns and no proven business case are problems even if they're just perceived to be problems. Unless you'd like to buy out some of these companies and bet your fortune on these problems not being real. Yes, I'm being overly pessimistic when I answered here, but it's too easy to think all they needed was a grocery list from slashdot. That's what everyone is looking for in a business case, what's the weaknesses you didn't include and is your downsides soberly assessed? Business cases that only deal with the sunshine scenarios don't usually get through.

            • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @06:10PM (#33528070) Journal

              1) True. The right thing to do is to go open source from day one.
              2) Being verifiably honest is a competitive advantage.
              3) Perhaps, but a little bit of support time is a small price to pay for free development. It's not going to cost you more than it would have to hire someone to write it. And concerning the 2nd part of your answer, do you have an example of that happening?
              4) I think the OP was asking for good reasons, otherwise we could have answered him simply with "Because PHBs are assholes". That is the only real reason.
              5) Nobody knows whether or not a given advertisement causes me to buy an item either, but we are still saturated with advertising. An open source driver is another bullet point marketing can use to sway people.

        • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:00PM (#33527394)

          5. Financial. There is no business case to be made to disclose this proprietary information. If I'm not going to make money from something, why should I spend the time/effort to open source it, and perhaps give away information that my competitor could use?

          You might find this hard to believe but the large OEM's (HP, Dell and all the others) are demanding Linux driver compliance in their OEM selection process. Linux is huge in the server market, particularly in visualization, is taking over the cell phone market and will one day be in the home. If you don't OSS your drivers you will lose OEM contracts and likely won't be told that you lost because you didn't have Linux drivers.

          Linux will one day be the dominant OS in all the backend servers, the dominant players in the largest percentage of Embedded devices (including cell phones) and in the future will dominate the desktop.

          • You might find this hard to believe but the large OEM's (HP, Dell and all the others) are demanding Linux driver compliance in their OEM selection process.

            You might find it hard to believe, but I'm intimately familiar with their requirements here for Linux driver compliance.

        • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:33PM (#33527768) Homepage

          There is no business case to be made to [release linux drivers]

          Before I buy personal hardware, I check to see if it works well in Linux. Before my organization buys hardware, it requires that it work in linux, as the vast majority of our datacenter runs RedHat.

          Do you sell to businesses or computing enthusiasts? There's your business case. If you're selling to soccer mom's, well, then you would have a point.

        • by jejones (115979) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:49PM (#33527920) Journal

          >Does this help?

          If you would, please do one more thing: name the company, so I can make a point of avoiding its products.

      • by h4rm0ny (722443)
        I think its a bit of a case by case basis. I know in the case ATI, when it was taken over by AMD, they wanted to release Open Source drivers as quickly as possible but couldn't straight away because third party companies had contributed parts of the driver software and it was under NDAs. I think it took them a little while to work around some of those issues, secure agreements, etc. In other cases, companies have things in their drivers that they don't necessarily want their competitors to be able to just g
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kjella (173770)

          I know in the case ATI, when it was taken over by AMD, they wanted to release Open Source drivers as quickly as possible but couldn't straight away because third party companies had contributed parts of the driver software and it was under NDAs. I think it took them a little while to work around some of those issues, secure agreements, etc.

          Actually, far more than that. They gave up on "washing" the internal code base and the open source drivers are essentially written from scratch with only slight one-way code sharing. In some cases yes they look at it to figure out how to program specific bits of hardware, but that's about it. And even that almost-from-scratch rewrite has to pass through a fairly serious legal review to make sure they're not revealing too much IP. Most of the shit in the graphics drivers is caused by DRM though, they can't r

      • by chrb (1083577)

        I'm sure I'm missing something, though. Would someone enlighten me?

        Corporate mentality. There are a lot of companies out there that just don't get it. They think that every little bit of code that they have under their control somehow gives them an advantage over the competition. The idea of giving away code after they paid to develop it just sounds wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      I got so sick of trying to get my broadcom card working on Mythbuntu 10.04, I just gave up and bought Windows 7. By spending $99 on Windows I saved... how many hours of frustration?

      I tell friends: try linux. If it works on all your hardware without requiring you to dig through forums or edit text files, use it. Otherwise, save your time and sanity and get Windows. This action by broadcom means the people who take my advice will stick with linux :-)

  • almost 10 years! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vivek7006 (585218)

    It took them almost 10 years before they released open-source drivers. Must be freaking smart

  • DD-WRT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumBeep (748940) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:49PM (#33526598)

    Looking forward to much broader DD-WRT support for Broadcom hardware in the near future

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by domatic (1128127)

      It could also mean more 2.6.x kernels. Many of these devices gave you the choice of either using the binary blob drivers and a 2.4 based firmware or you could go to 2.6 and hope for the best with the reverse engineered drivers.

  • by MBGMorden (803437)

    Yay! This is definitely nice. Granted, I luckily didn't run into a bit of trouble getting the broadcom card in my laptop to work using the NDIS wrapper last time I set it up on Ubuntu 10.04, but either way it's good to have open source drivers rather than finding quirky ways to make proprietary ones work.

  • and that means no Linux Wi-Fi problem for new devices and upcoming distributions at all.

    Yes, because open source drivers means that they always work, no matter how strange or obscure your hardware and software combination is. That's right, just like all other open source software that never, ever, fails to live up to expectations under any situation. In fact the news is so remarkable that the sun just came out where I live, and I think some very peaceful velociraptors just woke from a very long sleep and are peacefully munching on cabbage, all thanks to this incredible news.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:03PM (#33526756) Homepage Journal

    Tomato Firmware is still stuck on Linux 2.4 because Broadcom's driver blob hasn't been ported to 2.6, Don't know how much of a difference it'd make for my WRT54GL, really, but it'd still be nice to be more modern than ~2.4.17.

  • Thanks (Score:5, Informative)

    by msclrhd (1211086) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:06PM (#33526792)

    To the Broadcom team and everyone else who made this happen: you have my heartfelt thanks.

  • Documentation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sshore (50665) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:12PM (#33526868)

    It's good that they've released source for drivers.

    It would be better still if they released documentation for their hardware that would be adequate to write a driver.

    It's said that source code is the best documentation, but it only documents what the source is doing; not why it's doing it, what it could do, and what it shouldn't do.

    • by Junta (36770) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:21PM (#33526972)

      Speaking as one who routinely works on open and closed projects, believing the documentation would be tempting, but usually a mistake.

      The driver reflects the reality. If well commented (particularly if it has developers venting frustration), it really reflects the reality of how that doc got implemented in reality.

      Often documentation is first written, then parts fabricated/code developed. When the fabricated parts come in, often there are minor different and/or incorrect interpretations of the spec, major enough to make the doc unusable, often minor enough to work with a change to the driver. When this happens, the driver will get updated, but going back to the documentation... No, not so much.

      Particularly when it comes to the 'what it could do' part, at best it's not already done because they decided not to fund it and it is simply untested and may or may not work. Frequently it's because that capability was so fubared in testing that the feature was thrown over the fence to make a schedule.

    • Proper code has comments with exactly that.

  • I hate having to jump through hoops to install debian on dell hardware.
  • Ubuntu 10.10 is in Beta, and presumably a feature freeze -- is it possible to sneak these into the development for 10.10? If there's one thing I hate about installing Linux on my netbook, it's getting the fscking wifi drivers working shuttling files via USB thumb drive because I lost the eithernet cable or don't have access to a physical port.

    Yes, this is a real problem for some people, and many college dorms are starting to go wifi only, meaning you have to hijack a library or computerlab eitherne

  • LiveCD win! (Score:2, Informative)

    by scrib (1277042)

    One of the biggest problems I faced was using a LiveCD to show off Linux.

    "Here, boot with this and check it out!"
    "Eh, kinda neat lookin'. How do I get online?"
    "Well, hook your laptop to the router for a bit, or download some stuff onto a flash drive with another computer. Then you have to figure out exactly what model of wireless card you have and follow these arcane steps. No, it's easy, but you have to download these tools, too, to split the Windows driver files in... Wait, why are you booting back into

    • It's really difficult to convince someone that Linux is as easy to use as Windows (in general, day to day work) when their first experience is struggling to make such basic things work.

      So basically what you're saying is - it's difficult to convince someone of something that's demonstrably untrue?

  • The only reason ultra-cheap Chinese clones of Broadcom hardware aren't common today is because the lack of documentation. Anyone can tear the hardware apart and see what chips they are using and even, with an electron microscope, reverse-engineer a custom chip. But without the drivers and/or documentation there is no value in the hardware alone.

    Now, with the complete documentation (the drivers are the documentation), there is no reason for anyone to spend more on Broadcom devices when they can just as eas

    • Re:Bye-Bye Broadcom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @06:38PM (#33528372) Homepage

      If that was true then Atheros should have gone by now. They open sourced their drivers almost a decade ago, yet they are still around. In fact, due to the excellent Linux support, I've only been buying and recommending to others the Atheros chipset WiFi cards. Not to mention all the extra abilities it gained from the OS community (like the ability to simultaneously act as an AP and client, which brought about mesh networking and community wifi).

      They probably gained a lot indirectly in the form of higher sales of hardware due to this, plus the reduction in costs because they didn't have to pay a dev team all this time.

  • by CherniyVolk (513591) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @06:56PM (#33528534)

    Please, when talking about what someone said, a personal blog link or a link to a journalists entry of some sort displaying the quote. When talking about government / military things, please make sure "proof" links end either in .gov or .mil and nothing else. The above link, talks about Broadcom (who has their own website) open sourcing some of their linux device drivers, yet the link takes you to OS News, which also has another link.

    Now, this isn't to challenge the post itself, just how slashdot entries tend to always do this sort of thing.

    "Steve Jobs announces new device!!!! HERE"S PROOF 'link to macrumors, ars technica, bbc tech news, Times or something other than apple.com'" please start providing real links my fellow members of slashdot.

  • Firmware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @06:56PM (#33528536) Homepage Journal
    I haven't looked at the source code --- I can't find it; shouldn't it be visible in in this directory [kernel.org]? --- but the announcement doesn't mention any firmware.

    A lot (but not all) of wireless cards are usually embedded ARM processors with a radio glued on. The operating system driver just talks to the firmware, and the firmware does most of the heavy lifting. Some cards store firmware in flash, but some store it in RAM and it has to be uploaded from the host computer every time the device is reset.

    Does anyone know whether these chipsets do require firmware, and if so whether it's included in the source release?

    • Re:Firmware? (Score:4, Informative)

      by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @07:02PM (#33528600) Homepage Journal
      Right, I found the source (for some reason cut-and-paste isn't working into a Slashdot text box, but it's prominently linked by another story).

      Yes, these drivers require firmware. No, this release does not include source for the firmware. You still need to have the binary blob from Broadcom to make the drivers work.

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