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Open Source Wireless Networking Linux

Broadcom Releases Source Code For Drivers 350

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

    by vivek7006 ( 585218 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:49PM (#33526592) Homepage

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:49PM (#33526596)

    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?

    You can try it today, and if it doesn't work, fix the driver.

  • 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:Hahahahahaha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:50PM (#33526612)
    Oh, lighten the hell up guys, troll? Seriously? Just because I'm pointing out that the open drivers have their fair share of issues too? Open Source is not some magic pixie dust that makes the drivers impervious to mistakes, I'm very happy that it's open source because that means that I might be able to install Fedora on my IdeaPad without wrestling with the broadcom driver(It's sort of working now), but you can't possibly believe that open sourcing the driver will remove every issue with it?
  • Re:Hahahahahaha (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:55PM (#33526668)
    That's what the text says though, or do you have a problem reading the quote?

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

    Just do a quick search for rt2x00 bugs, they've been open sourced a long time, and still has plenty of bugs and failures. It's not magic, it wont' make all problems go away. Yet, that's what the claim is.

  • Holy overstatement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @03:56PM (#33526672) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Re:Hahahahahaha (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JonJ ( 907502 ) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:04PM (#33526770)
    That's probably a couple of years behind, actually.
  • by pankkake ( 877909 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:06PM (#33526806) Homepage
    And it could be ported to other kernels, a BSD for instance.
  • by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:08PM (#33526820)

    Well to be fair most open source "just works".
    It's whether it "just works" well that's the big question.-

  • Re:Hahahahahaha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by domatic ( 1128127 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:34PM (#33527098)

    As a counterpoint, I found it dead easy with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on an Asus 701. It was about as many clicks and menus as it takes on OS X and WinXP. Now a given distribution may not always make it that easy for you but this should basically be solved for the distros intended for desktop use.

  • 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.

  • Re:Hahahahahaha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sammyF70 ( 1154563 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @04:47PM (#33527248) Homepage Journal
    hmm .. I still have to see a driver for any wireless card that crashes linux. Worst case scenario, it just doesn't work, which was incidentally the problem I had with my broadcom adapter on an Acer Aspire One D250. but crash the OS? not really, no.
  • Re:Hahahahahaha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:12PM (#33527514)

    Wireless, for the most part, works very well under Linux. If you were unable to get the linux version to work you could always use the windows version via ndiswrapper.

    In the past year alone I have seen a significantly reduced instance of wireless driver issues as the open source community has worked out so many of the problems. Though, you had to install them after you installed the distribution--you were told there were proprietary hardware drivers available (automatically). You needed only a couple clicks and a reboot to make them work.

    This provides a way to have wireless work without the need to be prompted for proprietary drivers and the reboot.

    If there was a reason to complain, and there was about 2 year ago, wireless is where it was at. Linux didn't bring joy all the time, especially in certain HP laptops. Even so, it seems every week I have to deal with issues with a customer's wireless device under Windows XP, Vista, or Win7 (though not as often under Win7). It isn't a joy to work with them under Windows either.

  • by melikamp ( 631205 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:36PM (#33527798) Homepage Journal
    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 cannot be guaranteed to work. And before I drop any cash on a stand-alone network monitor, I will at least consider simply buying a card that has a legit driver.
  • 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 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 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.

  • by bruno.fatia ( 989391 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @08:05PM (#33529220)

    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.

    2012 The Year of Linux on the Desktop?

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @08:10PM (#33529244) Journal

    Your issues assume that someone can't look at the specs online for a model that is at the store. Most brick-and-mortar computer and electronics stores actually do have websites. You can even print out the specs and take the paper to the store with you. Most of this information even happens to be on the box or in the spec book at the store. Many stores even really do have Internet (or at least Intranet to their own site which has different pricing than the public Internet site, but that problem was uncovered years ago) access at the store for customers to look online at specs and prices.

    If you're not dealing with Best Buy, Fry's, CompUSA, Electronics Superstore, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, or some similarly large chain (all of which have specs and prices online for what they sell in the stores) and are not dealing with a mom-and-pop place with enough brains to have Internet access in their store, then why are you buying at that particular brick-and-mortar store?

    Also, if you find a laptop model in a brick-and-mortar store that is popular enough to have an out-of-box running display for you to try, you should be really suspicious if you can't find that model online at the manufacturer's site or at least some other store's site.

    I know laptops are less expensive (and sometimes actually cheaper, as in cheaper builds and materials) than they used to be, but it's still not a cheeseburger. If you're spending hundreds of dollars on something you'll be using for hours or tens of hours a week, perhaps it's worth more of your time to research than walking into the store and checking the key pitch and travel before buying.

  • by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @10:53PM (#33530218) Journal

    What company do you believe that I'm NOT describing?

    If you refused to buy products from everyone that my statements applied to, you might have enough money to move out of your mother's basement.

  • Re:Firmware? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ModelX ( 182441 ) on Friday September 10, 2010 @05:49AM (#33531944)

    I had tons of linux issues with Broadcom drivers and figured out both driver software and firmware were problematic. The Broadcom binary driver for my Broadcom chip version is not available, only the general linux driver, which nearly works. Now the tricky part is the firmware. Windows drivers update firmware on the fly whereas linux drivers don't. In fact, changes in firmware cause linux driver to work intermittently. Sometimes linux driver will fail to initialize connection due to some problem with firmware connecting to a particular switch, whereas windows driver has no such problem.

    The key problem is firmware updates are not included in linux drivers due to legal reasons, it's not too difficult to reverse engineer that part from windows drivers.

    So what Broadcom needs to do is to open source drivers and give permission to distribute firmware update code with open source drivers.

The absent ones are always at fault.