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Linksys Releases GPLed Code for WRT54G

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the happy-thoughts dept.

Wireless Networking 335

petree writes "I stumbled across this on the Linksys website. Linksys has apparently caved to community pressure and released the GPLed source for linux running on their WRT54G. Cool Beans!"

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Xeo2 (301694) | more than 11 years ago | (#6379995)

FP?

Get rid of Michael (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6379996)

Thank you, thank you.

Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (3, Interesting)

draziw (7737) | more than 11 years ago | (#6379997)

It's nice that you can see the GPL bits running on their box (Hey running a 2.4.5 kernel) - but it doesn't give you drivers, or scripts, etc. :(

No I don't think they need to provide the other bits, but it sure would be nice to get some 802.11 drivers, etc.

--
+1 Karma bonus due to GPL Love & Low User ID.

Re:Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (4, Insightful)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380043)

Yes, it would be nice to get the "Secret bits," like drivers, but this is actually better for the community in the long run. Why? Because Linksys will have released the GPL parts publically, without losing control of their "I.P." or the "I.P." of companies providing components for this product (if any).

"Viral" GPL gobbling "I.P." like pac-man with melanoma? Not really!

Re:Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380185)

Agreed. It makes good engineering sense too. By leaving the kernel unmodified, it removes a maintenance headache. Engineers can design their IP to interface with the kernel in the standard way. The kernel then becomes a "black box" and is decoupled from the internals of the company's IP. It allows for a more modular and maintainable design.

Re:Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (4, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380248)

It's nice that you can see the GPL bits running on their box (Hey running a 2.4.5 kernel) - but it doesn't give you drivers, or scripts, etc.

The original flash image was decoded (by Andrew Miklas) as a cramfs filesystem. We have *all* the components available in binary form. Unless there is crytographic checking in the bootloader (i.e. a signed flash image) we're all set to go make our own images complete with Linksys's proprietary binaries and our hacked/improved GPL binaries.

To my knowledge, nobody has done this yet. I hope that doesn't last long. These units will make lovely general-purpose embedded machines if we can put our own code in them. We'd have to rely on Linksys binaries for some of the hardware, but personally I have no ideological problem with that. What I want is to be able to fix some bugs of the bugs and interface stupidities in the darn thing, and to add some of my own functionality, such as being able to ssh into it. Of course, I'd like it even more if Linksys released the full hardware specs, but hey. It's a start.

Now, I see the kind of hacking I described above, and which I fully intend to get involved in, as nothing but good for Linksys. If it turns out we can reflash the unit as it appears we can, I for one will be in the market for a few more of these.

Re:Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380314)

And this is exactly why companies should stay the hell away from Linux - the pirate mentality that goes with it.

Re:Nice, but not a ton of info from it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380409)

Why? I bought it, so I should be able to do whatever I want with it. In-fact, I'm going to buy it, because I CAN do whatever I want with it!

The hell with the warranty, and to hell with their support - once I open the box, it's my problem. I'll do what I want with this system, because it's mine!

But... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6379998)

can it kill fetii?

Should hit any time now... (-1, Offtopic)

igabe (594295) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380123)

Those "Cool Beans" are sure to bring a pleasant smell to all who come near. A pleasant, lethal smell.

Fetii might just die.

R.I.P.

Does this mean we can work on the firmware? (5, Interesting)

fishynet (684916) | more than 11 years ago | (#6379999)

Can the OSS community now modify the firmware and make custom things for it?

Re:Does this mean we can work on the firmware? (-1, Troll)

shaklee (631847) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380241)

We? No. People that aren't morons like you? Yes.

Re:Does this mean we can work on the firmware? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380258)

You rube! I would bet that these are not even the real packages that are used on the router. Do a diff against the original released packages. I will bet that there are no differences. Would believe that these packages go into a commercial product with *NO* fixes at all?

Linksys has just released the original GPL packages that they used -- no workarounds or enhancements for running on the broadcom chips.
You couldn't recompile the linksys router platform from this in a million years. And until someone with a ton of money actaully takes this to court, there is not a thing you can do about it except jump up and down and stamp your feet.

Binary modules are legal. (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380407)

Assuming they are loading their drivers as modules (ie. not statically linking), then I do not beleive they are obligued to release them under GPL unless the modules were themselves based on GPL code.

Keeping IP in binary modules is fairly straght formward way to partition IP in kernel space and is fairly common in the embedded industry.

Now I know RMS and others frown on this, but it is not illegal.

New linux toy? Oh yeah (4, Interesting)

petree (16551) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380000)

Now that all of this has been released, I wonder if we will be seeing alternative firmwares with support for new features (detailed external logging, radius server, wireless VLANs like the cisco APs, traffic shaping, oh, and MeshAP [locustworld.com] could be cool too.) A friend of mine already bought his WRT54G and likes it, but after I found this out (and submitted the story to slashdot) I ordered mine from Amazon [amazon.com] ($130 with free shipping) along with the NetGear WAG511 [amazon.com] ($85 - 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11b) as recommended by a Toms Hardware review [tomshardware.com] . I'm so excited that I am going to have a dope 54mbps wireless network in my dorm room for only $215. A little excessive, maybe, but hey I will probably keep this for another 5+ yrs. Especially the 802.11a 802.11g cardbus card. Oh hey, if you are shopping, check out the SeattleWireless Hardware Comparison [seattlewireless.net] . They have all sorts of info there and it made it easier to decide what to buy.

Did you just say "dope"? (-1, Flamebait)

Abortionator (677341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380017)

Looks like we need to perform a super-late-term abortion.

A wireless network. For a dorm room. (4, Insightful)

rob-fu (564277) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380018)

I'm so excited that I am going to have a dope 54mbps wireless network in my dorm room for only $215. No offense, but I think your money is better spent elsewhere :) How big can your dorm room possibly be to the point where 54mbs wireless would be necessary?

Re:A wireless network. For a dorm room. (5, Funny)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380082)

Maybe he's decided to take a different course of action in the killing of superfluous sperm.

Re:A wireless network. For a dorm room. (5, Interesting)

Pirogoeth (662083) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380098)

Excessive perhaps, for just the room, but if their dorm is anything like mine was [wisc.edu] with a den down the hall or a study room in the basement or grassy areas out in front, a wireless connection like this would be pretty sweet.

Re:A wireless network. For a dorm room. (1)

larkost (79011) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380376)

But then again if you were a University of Wisconsin (at Madison/Madtown) student you would be silly to put up your own access point when most of campus (should be now) set up for wireless connections, and your access point can't provide you with more bandwidth then the housing provider gives (as a former DoIT employee I have my own opinions about them...).

Re:A wireless network. For a dorm room. (2)

petree (16551) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380129)

Well first off, with WEP on, in real world conditions, you are only going to have a total of 20-25mbits or so of real bandwidth available. Don't forget, that's shared amongst all wireless users. So if I want to send a file to another wireless user (like my friend standing next to me with his powerbook) I only will get like 10mbits or so of throughput. 1.3 to 1.6MB/sec. All of a sudden it doesn't seem like that much bandwidth to me.

I didn't think it was shared... (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380187)

I thought that 802.11b kept each connection on completely separate frequencies.

Well... (5, Funny)

wadetemp (217315) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380208)

... it's not just for him, it's so his neighbors can connect to his network too. Whether he knows this or not, I don't know.

Re:A wireless network. For a dorm room. (2, Informative)

leshert (40509) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380340)

Perhaps he has a laptop. Wireless and laptops are good, mutually supportive technologies.

I'm posting this from my laptop, which is only 20 feet from my AP, firewall, and DSL modem, but it's still nice not to have to run a cable across the room for someone to trip over...

Come out of the closet (4, Insightful)

poptones (653660) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380064)

For one one-hundredth that price you could have bought twenty feet of cat-5, which would have given you 100mbps networking in that dorm room.

I bet you like playing raquetball in the closet, too, don'tcha?

Re:New linux toy? Oh yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380090)

" I'm so excited that I am going to have a dope 54mbps wireless network in my dorm room for only $215."

Try a 1000mbps cat5e cable. 20' for $5 is a good price.

Hidden costs of cat5 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380104)

What about the duct tape to hold it to the walls? Did you think about that when you came up with that outrageous $5.00 figure??

What about the BEFW11S4? (4, Interesting)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380006)

Isnt the BEFW11S4 in the same boat as the WRT54G? Isnt it based on linux as well?

Mod parent up (1)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380036)

Good question. There's quite a few of these out there and this would benefit quite a few /.ers.

Ah, Linksys (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380012)

They're too lazy to code proper, secure solutions for their products, so they send it to the OSS community to do.

Re:Ah, Linksys (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380297)

A company makes hardware, they don't release software & driver code to public.

People say they are an evil corporation trying to hide their secrets and prevent users of rare operating systems from using their product.

A company makes hardware, they release software & driver code to public.

People say they want others to do their coding.

You just can't win can you?

Next stop: Drivers (2, Interesting)

InfiniterX (12749) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380013)

Hopefully this means that they'll release drivers for their 54-mbit cards already, then.

From what I read, they use the same Broadcom chipset as the access points, which means Linux drivers do exist, in spite of their not being released to anyone.

Re:Next stop: Drivers (1)

fdawg (22521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380075)

That would imply that they used a stock pci/isa bus. In my experience, the chips may be the same in an application specific device as well as a standard PC peripheral, but the lack of a standard bus would make it (MUCH!) harder to reverse engineer a driver.

It would be very interesting if it was a stock bus.

Re:Next stop: Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380083)

In my experience, most of these devices just use OTS parts. Crack the case open and see what they put inside.

Finally (2, Insightful)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380015)

I was vary suprised that there wasn't a huge uproar when this was coverd on /. earlier.
If they had not released the source would buy their products again, to be honest I certainly would because they are the cheapest.
If you would not, does their decision to release the source change your mind?

And now what? (5, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380016)

Are you going to go build your own router?

Are you going to comb through the code only to find that it's not that much different from the other code you never look at?

Face it, if it some source is vital to your company staying competitive, it isn't going to be GPL'd.

Re:And now what? (4, Funny)

ryanr (30917) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380154)

No, I'm going to load strange software on it, and make it do things that have little or no practical value.

Because I can.

Re:And now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380330)

I'm going to load strange software on it, and make it do things that have little or no practical value.

You wouldn't happen to be the progeny of Steven Pinker, would you?

So... (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380020)

Does this give out any cool new code, or is it just simple modifications of the kernel? I'm guessing it's just a few minor changes to enable it to run on the router.

Hopefully all of this commotion has not dissuaded Linksys from using the Linux kernel (in an appropriate fashion) in their future products.

-Erwos

Its nice to see (4, Insightful)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380027)

It's really great to see a company that saw it had made a mistake, corrected it and moved on. My only wish is that more companies would take that attitude.

Re:Its nice to see (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380087)

But for their delay, they're getting a right good slashdotting on the weekend!

Cool Beans? (5, Funny)

aaron240 (618080) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380029)

What is this, 1988?

Is it also "rad" that the code was released?

My apologies, I'm on a tear today. Hella has to go the way of "cool beans", but it looks like these things never die. *sighs*

Re:Cool Beans? (0)

phatman808 (602336) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380124)

Dude, that comment was totally bitchin'! ouch. sorry.

Re:Cool Beans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380146)

Fucking-A. Totally dudical comment, bro.

Hella? (3, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380262)

You really shouldn't condem the age of 'cool beans' and still use the word 'Hella'.

really, I've been hating the term hella since the late 80's.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some rad code to write that is really too hip to be square, dude.

Re:Hella? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380356)

Reread the parent post and reconsider your attempt at flamage, dipshit

Re:Cool Beans? (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380324)

All your undying phrases are belong to us!

Re:Cool Beans? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380390)

What is this, 1988?
Yes.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to adjust my mullet.

Never enough, though. (1, Interesting)

PaulK (85154) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380034)

Now all I need is open source drivers for the 54g PCI and PCMCIA.

I use one of these access points; my first network nmap after installing it was disconcerting. I had thought that someone was war driving, when I found the 2.4.5 -O.

The last thing I expected to find was a Linux kernel.

At least they had the __________ to step up and honor the GPL.

802.11g *nix drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380037)

Hey, are there any drivers for the linksys/dlink 802.11g cards out there for *nix? I found a couple for a flavor of the 802.1a that were built for linux, but it seems that the *nix crowd is out of luck with high speed wireless :-/
I have used this AP since late December and it rocks.

Source code mirror (-1, Troll)

Abortionator (677341) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380046)

here [tinyurl.com]
(TinyURL'd for my convenience)

Re:Source code mirror (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380055)

thank you, their ftp was throwing up errors for me. you have been a great help.

Not the full OS (3, Informative)

KentoNET (465732) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380053)

Linksys only released the GPL pieces of what's running on that router. The way it looks, they haven't really put out anything that would help much to create a customized ROM for that device (web frontend specs, scripts, etc.). This isn't that much of a move for them, as it appears they've only released info of what they used, as well as a centralized location for exactly what GPL software is on their router.

Re:Not the full OS (5, Insightful)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380060)

Did you really expect them to release proprietary intellectual property?

They complied with the GPL...they weren't required to do anything else, nor should a commercial enterpise be expected to do more if it doesn't aid their business.

-psy

Re:Not the full OS (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380126)


They complied with the GPL...they weren't required to do anything else, nor should a commercial enterpise be expected to do more if it doesn't aid their business.


Although, perhaps it would aid their business. It's not like they're in the business of selling hardware at a loss only to make up for it in software sales like the console makers.. Software from third parties only adds to the value of their bricks, and you can bet your ass that their warranty excludes any hacking of the things anyway, so there are no extra support costs asociated to allowing others to hack the thing.

Drivers etc. don't even have to be supplied in source code to bake a ROM; object code will do. So competitors won't get to see any more of their secret sauce then they get to see now.

Re:Not the full OS (1)

KentoNET (465732) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380138)

Exactly. And as I stated, even specs to certain things would do (like the web frontend, for backup purposes). That could be useful for adding or removing servers to or from the system and still having it be functional with parts of the system that aren't openly distributed. Unfortunately, such a thing would probably never happen.

Re:Not the full OS (2, Insightful)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380153)

I design embedded systems.....and I can tell you that the last thing you want to do is to make it even easier to reverse engineer stuff. Things are bad enough as it is ;-)

Plus, if people were able to reprogram the unit, I'm not sure how that'd really help the community. You'd probably see a bunch of people doing silly "hacks" with the system and a bunch of confused users not knowing what "distribution" to run on their Linksys access point.

-psy

Re:Not the full OS (1)

palp (90815) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380160)

Yes, but software features are the main difference between brands of routers. Most of them have very similar hardware, and it's the configuration software that makes one better than the other, more often than not, especially to the average consumer. Give away the software for things like their web frontend, and all the features it offers, and they lose their uniqueness.

Re:Not the full OS (2, Informative)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380267)

They don't want you to hack their boxes and add cool features. They want you to buy their next product which will include those features.

Re:Not the full OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380331)

[...]proprietary intellectual property[...]

Looks like you've been owned too much by the IP system.

...
Ok, I'm ready, bring on the tomatoes.

how... (-1, Offtopic)

deadsaijinx* (637410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380077)

is this "Your Rights Online" .... ?

Start of an era? (-1, Offtopic)

myoohn (631500) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380105)

hum...so Linksys release the GPL'ed driver..and will other network vendors follow? what if other hardware vendors also relase open-source driver?

next thing you know, Microsoft is GPL'ing Windows!!

oh wait, I can already hear Billy yelling "NOT IN A THOUSAND YEARS!!"

Re:Start of an era? (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380328)

Do us a favor and please hold your breath until that happens.

Need drivers for the 802.11g (3, Informative)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380113)

With drivers for the 802.11g adapter, more people would look at providing alternative firmwares. I've recently started working on such a project for the Dell TrueMobile 1184 [trilug.org] because Dell actually provided source code when asked, and all the hardware support is there with open source drivers.

Vintage Slashdot: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380139)

"So IBM announces a 25 gig hard drive... does the world need this yet? Unless this is in a RAID, would you really want to trust 25 gigs on a single drive? What would you use this for? 400+ hours of MP3s comes to mind... "

They are still in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380148)

So what? Those guys new their obligations well from the very moment they touched the GPLed code, but decided to play nookie with the community believing that they would get away with it. They violated the GPL, and no matter what time they come up with the source, they don't stop from being in violation. Being part of the community I will continue the pressure, and hopefully, by pressing charges we will manage to remove some of their capital the same way the touched our code, and fund other projects protected by the GPL.

Re:They are still in violation (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380175)

Dear Link$y$:

I am aghast and appalled at your continuing flagrant violation of the GNU Public License. Your paws are dirty with the hard work of many hundreds of thousands of kernel developers who you ripped off by $elling the kernel code back to them without supplying the full source code for your product. Through this illegal action you have raised my and The Community's ire and we will stand and fight until you fully comply with the GPL. All your source MUST be turned over to The Community at once.

Please be aware that I am not alone in this battle. I am dogged and relentless and using the power of the Internet I will bring you into compliance with the GPL.

Don't fuck with us, Link$y$.

Sincerely,

Anonymous Coward

EEP! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380155)

EEEEEEEE!

What the heck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380163)

is a 'Wrtsag'?

Re:What the heck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380190)

It was the German government during the Nazi regime.

Re:What the heck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380257)

otherwise known as the US government during the present regime. Remember, regime change begins at home.

just one product (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380176)

Good first step, but that's far from the only Linksys device running Linux. Where are the sources for the other devices?

Re:just one product (2, Interesting)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380322)

Good first step, but that's far from the only Linksys device running Linux. Where are the sources for the other devices?

Of course you're correct about that. But what's wrong with being nice to them just now. Let's watch them be shocked when sales of the unit tick upward, then let's ask for more, ok? :-)

Of course, the above depends on being able to reflash the thing successfully, and as far as I can see, that's going to be a whole lot easier than the XBox was, plus more useful, including being useful to Linksys. Unlike Microsoft, they make money every time they sell one.

More Info (5, Informative)

heli0 (659560) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380183)

The original post from:
http://lkml.org/archive/2003/6/7/164/index. html
is not up right now so here is the text.


Andrew Miklas
linux.kernel
Jun 7 2003

Hi,

Sorry for the very lengthly posting, but I want to be as precise as possible in describing this problem.

Awhile ago, I mentioned that the Linksys WRT54G wireless access point used several GPL projects in its firmware, but did not seem to have any of the source available, or acknowledge the use of the GPLed software. Four weeks ago, I spoke with an employee at Linksys who confirmed that the system did use Linux, and also mentioned that he would work with his management to ensure that the source was released. Unfortunately, my e-mails to this individual over the past three weeks have gone unanswered. Of course, I also tried contacting Linksys through their common public e-mail accounts (pr@linksys.com, mailroom@linksys.com) to no avail.

However, it is hard for me to know if my contact in the company has just gone on a three week vacation (and not set an auto-responder), or has been asked to not answer anymore mail on this subject. Also, I should note that I don't own this product, so I can't determine if the source is shipped with it. However, I have gone through all the available information on the Linksys website, and can find no reference to the GPL, Linux (as it relates to this product), or the firmware source code. Also, the firmware binary (see below) is freely available from their website. There is no link from the download page to the source, or any mention of Linux or the GPL. Finally, it would be strange if the source was included in the physical package, as my contact at Linksys was initially unaware Linux was used in this product.

The following steps can be used to determine the exact nature of the possible GPL violation.

1. Go to the following URL:
http://www.linksys.com/download/firmware.asp?fwid= 178

2. Download the "firmware upgrade files":
ftp://ftp.linksys.com/pub/network/WRT54G_ 1.02.1_US _code.bin
(MD5SUM: b54475a81bc18462d3754f96c9c7cc0f)

3. While it is downloading, confirm that there is nothing on the webpage to indicate that this binary contains GPLed software.

4. Once the download is complete, copy the ontents of the file from offset 0xC0020 onward into a new file.
dd if=WRT54G_1.02.1_US_code.bin of=test.dump skip=24577c bs=32c

5. Notice that this file is an image of a CramFS filesystem. Mount it.

6. Explore the filesystem. You will notice that the system appears to be based on Linux 2.4.5.
Incidentally, there is at least one other GPLed project in the firmware:
the BusyBox userland component: (http://www.busybox.net/)

7. The Linux kernel (I think) is mixed up with a bunch of other stuff in: bin/boot.bin

You might want to know why I am interested in getting the code for the kernel used in this device.

There's been some discussion here about Linux's lack of wireless support for a few of the newer 802.11b and (nearly?) all 802.11g chips. Incidentally, Linux has excellent support for at least one manufacturer's wireless family. The following Broadcom chips all appear to be supported under Linux -- if you happen to be running Linux on a MIPS processor in a Linksys router:

Broadcom BCM4301 Wireless 802.11b Controller
Broadcom BCM4307 Wireless 802.11b Controller
Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11a Controller
Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11b Controller
Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11 Multiband Controller
Broadcom BCM4310 Wireless 802.11b Controller
Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11b/g Controller
Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11a Controller
Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11 Multiband Controller

This list was produced by running strings on:
lib/modules/2.4.5/kernel/drivers/net/wl/wl.o

I am trying to determine exactly how tightly coupled these drivers are to the kernel.

As an aside, I know that some wireless companies have been hesitant of releasing open source drivers because they are worried their radios might be pushed out of spec. However, if the drivers are already written, would there be any technical reason why they could not simply be recompiled for Intel hardware, and released as binary-only modules?

Finally, I know that traditionally, Linux has allowed binary-only modules. However, I was always under the impression that this required that the final customer be allowed to remove them at will. That is to say, you couldn't choose to implement a portion of the kernel critical to the system's operation in a module, and then not release that module under the GPL. In this particular case, I would argue that the wireless drivers are critical to this device's operation (after all, it is a wireless access point). In addition, the final user in this case really can't just "rmmod" the wireless driver.

The Broadcom driver, kernel, and really everything else in the firmware, are (IMHO anyways) being used to form a discrete package -- the WRT54Gs firmware. Does/should this have any implication on whether the Broadcom wireless module must be covered by the GPL?

I would be very interested in knowing if I am mistaken in any of my claims or conclusions, and if not, how I should proceed in getting this issue resolved.

-- Andrew Miklas

I know this is a bit of a tangent, but. (1)

Artifex (18308) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380188)

In response to another article about 802.1* a couple weeks ago, a lot of people wrote helpful comments about which cards and APs were "best" for single-, dual-, and tri-standard (a,b,g) use, many by people who had experiences with several.

Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my bookmark for that article. It'd be great to get a pointer to that discussion or even spark a new discussion here, as I'm finally wanting to buy into the technology, now.

Re:I know this is a bit of a tangent, but. (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380271)

There's a little box at the bottom of this page labeled "Search". Use it.

gpl strikes again (0, Interesting)

JDizzy (85499) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380216)

This type of license strong-arming is the reason embeded market should choose BSD. We FreeBSD folk shun the idea of a not-so-free license like the GPL where you have free as in beer, not free as in freedom. Free, Net, and OpenBSD are free as in beer, and freedom. Linksys could have had equal if not better performance with a BSD based kernel, and there is certainly an established BSD embeded computing community. Certainly NetBSD is the most supperior embeded Open Source OS on Earth which runs on over 35 architectures.

Well, the GPL might be good if Linksys wanted to write code that was Open source, but didn't want a competitor to takeover. Sorta like how IBM did with their JFS filesystem. SUN could take JFS, put it on Solaris, but they would have to show IBM the code that glued it together. So in this way the GPL is great for companies who want to share code, but bad for companies who want to borrow code for their own products. It appears Linksys needs to ignore a bit of the linux hype and get more practical, or continue to "cave under pressure" as the slashdot post implies.

Re:gpl strikes again (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380304)

BSD: free as in 'Look someone else did our work for us, and we don't have to give anything back'

GPL: free as in 'we can use it but we have to share.'

"...NetBSD is the most supperior embeded Open Source OS on Earth which runs on over 35 architectures."

what does the number of architectures have to do with whether or not its good?

Impressive, but one doesn't mean the other.

I like BSD, but statements lke that are just irritating.

Now if you'll excuse be, I have a bike shed to paint.

Re:gpl strikes again (0, Flamebait)

putaro (235078) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380335)

It's not license strong-arming - the license is very explicit AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. What rock would you have to have been hiding under to not know that the GPL is an evil, viral, license that forces you to make the GPL'd and modified GPL'd code available (heck, Bill Gates said so!)? Linksys had a choice - BSD is not invisible - and they chose to use the GPL'd stuff again.


Don't blame the GPL for Linksys' failure to comply. No one held a gun to their heads and said "Use Linux". If they wanted proprietary code they could have written their own kernel or bought VxWorks (shudder) or used a BSD derivative. They didn't.

Re:gpl strikes again (1)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380336)

This type of license strong-arming is the reason embeded market should choose BSD.

Well, Linksys didn't. Linksys chose to use GPL code, and now they've complied with the licence, as is expected. I'm sure Linksys would expect other companies to work within the rules of any licence on Linksys code, so it shouldn't be any different for Linksys using* GPL code. It's not strong-arming, anyway; I'm sure BSD coders would get a little ruffled if it turned out Linksys was using BSD code without proper attribution.

* Where "using" means "modifying and distributing," which is where the GPL takes effect.

Re:gpl strikes again (4, Insightful)

DASHSL0T (634167) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380379)

Dude, license your code however you want to and let others do the same. That is freedom, not the preachy stuff you just wrote.

Not very hard, is it?

Re:gpl strikes again (3, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380383)

This type of license strong-arming is the reason embeded market should choose BSD.

Sure, Linksys would have used BSD if BSD worked as well for them as Linux does. But Linux is better, supports more hardware, and supplies more of the features they need. That's because more programmers work on Linux, and that in turn is because of the licence - we know that our contributions to the public are going to *stay* public.

And by the way, I like BSD. I think there's some stuff in BSD that's better than Linux. I'm no fanatic, I'm just explaining the phenomenon.

Anyway, what's the big deal for Linksys if they accidently ended up letting everybody reprogram their hardware? It just means they sell more of it and make more money. That's gotta hurt, huh?

Thank them (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380229)

If you use there products, shoot them a quick email to say 'thanks'.
It really is the polite thing to do. Plus it always feels good to be appreciated, and that goes for people who run big companies.

download these. mirror them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380274)

I know this is on their website .. but one has to wonder if the higher ups know about it.

Are people mirroring all their files?

i'll GPL you (5, Funny)

lurgyman (587233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380279)

Slashdot... where the GNU Public License became a verb ;)

Re:i'll GPL you (1)

be-fan (61476) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380370)

Actually GPL is already a verb. "To GPL" --- To put software under the GPL.

Re:i'll GPL you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380391)

Hey, don't forget that Slashdot is also where "lone gunmen" was originally verbed. :-)

GPL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380280)

I never really understood what the deal about GPL is anyway. Why not just use Microsoft Windows or something.

GPL paradox. (5, Insightful)

slobarnuts (666254) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380295)

Well, good job for linksys, they released source code they were using. Though they did not contribute anything really to our body of knowledge.

But it seems like the truth is, linksys did because they wanted to be good citizens. The GPL has never been tested in court. It is easy to comply with the terms of the GPL.

That said, they may have had the option not to release it. The GPL has small teeth: the only real penalty is forced compliance. Though it could be considered copyright infringe.

So the question that i see: If linksys did not release the source code, or in anyway comply, what would have happened? Would the coders who wrote the code utilized take legal action? I will not assume the chances of that are.

But for the point, let's say they did. they sued for (x) million dollars. Companies see that Linksys is being used for (x) million and postpone their implementation of linux because of the remotest fear of being sued for infringement of the GPL. Yes one beauty of linux is that its free and open source, but another is that there isnt a centralized Legal department for linux in charge of IP. Companies do not have to have 50% of their legal dept dedicated to tracking IP. So what happens when a company use GPL code and doesnt comply, or refuses to comply. They have no fear of being sued. Linksys had no fear of being sued. They were doing it to be a decent company. But what is SCOleazy companies come along, use it.

If they are sued Linux will take a hit in terms of market penetration. If they are left alone, the GPL will take the hit.

Lets just hope all companies do what linksys did.

Still in violation (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380313)

Vixie cron isn't a pure gpl license as you can read from their own source in the README file:

#/* Copyright 1988,1990,1993 by Paul Vixie
# * All rights reserved
# *
# * Distribute freely, except: don't remove my name from the source or
# * documentation (don't take credit for my work), mark your changes (don't
# * get me blamed for your possible bugs), don't alter or remove this
# * notice. May be sold if buildable source is provided to buyer. No
# * warrantee of any kind, express or implied, is included with this
# * software; use at your own risk, responsibility for damages (if any) to
# * anyone resulting from the use of this software rests entirely with the
# * user.
# *
# * Send bug reports, bug fixes, enhancements, requests, flames, etc., and
# * I'll try to keep a version up to date. I can be reached as follows:
# * Paul Vixie uunet!decwrl!vixie!paul
# */

And so it looks like until linksys gives credit properly in the documentation to Paul Vixie they are still in violation of licensing agreements.

Re:Still in violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380371)

Vixie's "license" is not very clear.

1) What documentation is it talking about? The commented code? The product documentation?

2) What "buildable source" should be provided? Implicitly one would expect that the source to this software be released, but there is no requirement other than "May be sold if buildable source is provided to buyer." Linksys is providing buildable source for another binary, and that means they are in compliance with the "license".

3) No where is it implied by anyone that Vixie's name has been removed from the sources.

4) No where is it implied that the changes made by Linksys are unmarked. A common version tracking system would keep the changes relatively clear.

5) If Vixie had meant the product documentation that is supplied with the software, then Linksys is well within their rights as licensors of this software to write their own product documentation thereby not removing Vixie's name but rather simply not including it.

Vixie ought to have relied on the GPL instead of this license.

Some of the released code isn't GPL... (4, Interesting)

diamond0 (456988) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380320)

I see vixie-cron in there, which isn't GPL. Paul Vixie, a former student at Berkeley, uses the BSD license last I knew.

(He's better known for BIND, MAPS, PAIX, MFNX, etc.)

Okay, so now what? (3, Interesting)

jforman (172134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380333)

I have this actual piece of equipment, the WRT54G. Now that I've got this code, what do I do now? I am still unable (as far as i know) to edit this code, and safely reflash my router so i can run snmp off of it, or run snort/acid/etc.

Great, GPL the code. But now make it useful for me.

Re:Okay, so now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380369)

isnt taht a bit lazy? if you really feel str9ngly about it you do it... OSS development isnt about you getting sth by sitting back and doing nothing is it? thats what i do.. but i odnt wnat anything except to be able to chekc my mail.

So when does SCO file suit? (2, Funny)

Camel Racer (134168) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380345)

If it contains OSS, it _must_ have been taken from SCO.... ;-) for the humor impaired

Humor impaired? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6380380)

One of us here is humor impaired and it isn't me.

Linux and the GPL.. (-1, Troll)

Todd Law (683546) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380352)

...are the tools of terrorists. Allow me to state the FACTS about Linux: FACT: Linux users and open source code advocates are opposed to laws such as the DMCA which are made to stop online terrorism. FACT: The WTC disaster wouldn't have been possible without Linux. FACT: Saddam Hussein used Linux in his WMD program extensively to mass produce tens of thousands of WMDs in the last couple of years. FACT: Dmitry Skylarov used Linux to rob authors of eBooks blind. FACT: Hackers use Linux to commit illegal acts. FACT: Software, music, and video pirates use Linux to crack protection codes and to serve up illegally copied material. FACT: Iran uses Linux in it's nuclear arms program and North Korea runs embedded Linux it it's nuclear ICBMs. FACT: Charles Taylor, president of Liberia, is a Linux user and advocate.

Re:Linux and the GPL.. (1)

NFNNMIDATA (449069) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380406)

All this shows is that linux is very useful...

Gotta love Open Source (4, Funny)

Dewars (686073) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380361)

From the Linksys code (udhcp/packet.c)
const char broken_vendors[][8] = {
"MSFT 98",
""
};

Terms of Use? (2, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 11 years ago | (#6380375)

Does anyone find it ironic that Linksys's GPL download page [linksys.com] includes a link to their usual Draconian terms of use [linksys.com] ?

On a different topic, even if Linksys hasn't provided the 'correct' source code, as suggested by some, their acknowledgement of the GPL should at least mean open slather on reverse engineering any binary which has a hint of GPL to it.

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