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NDIS Wrapper For Wireless LAN Cards Under GPL

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the subvert-the-cooption-and-vice-versa dept.

Wireless Networking 222

An anonymous reader writes " Shortly after Linuxant has released their commercial DriverLoader, Pontus Fuchs has made an NDIS wrapper available under the GPL. Since some vendors refuse to release specifications or even a binary Linux-driver for their Wireless LAN cards he has decided to solve it himself by making a kernel module that can load Microsoft-Windows NDIS drivers. ndiswrapper has been tested with some BroadCom miniPCI cards and it seems to work on some laptops . With some more work it should be possible to support more cards. Hopefully this will be the case for the many owners of Linux laptops based on Intel's Centrino technology. Please contact Pontus if you are interested in helping out!"

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222 comments

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What, no screen shots?? (5, Funny)

rvaniwaa (136502) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511959)

How does he expect people to try out his code without any screen shots????

Hi, room! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7511960)

Hi, All! a/s/l?

are you calling me an asl? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7511982)

36/M/Parent's Basement .... (nt) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512344)

I said no text you perverts

Re:Hi, room! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512348)

36/Male/My mom's basement

How (1)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511965)

Please contact Pontus if you are interested in helping out!
How do you contact Pontus?

Re:How (1, Funny)

WTFmonkey (652603) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511978)

I'm not sure, but if you can, he Fuchs.

Re:How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512008)

I don't get it? You do realize that his name rhymes with pukes, right?

Re:How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512043)

Mr. Data, is that you?

Geordi

Re:How (1, Redundant)

pwiebe (645436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511999)

If you follow the link to the software page, you will notice his email address at the bottom.

Re:How (4, Informative)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512034)

At the bottom of the SF page:
Contact

You can contact me at pof (at) users.sourceforge.net.

Re:How (0, Offtopic)

tommck (69750) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512078)

Call MTV and ask for that guy from Jackass with the American flag Speedo on...

Re:How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512224)

Haha, that just made my day.

Re:How (1)

TurtlesAllTheWayDown (688108) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512089)

How do you contact Pontus?

In Soviet America, Pontus contacts YOU.

W32.Pont@us.fuchs

Re:How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512172)

You'll have to do the dark ritual Wonkus.

Re:How (1)

notoriousE (723905) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512181)

How exactly is his last name pronounced? I hope its's not how it looks...

Re:How (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512296)

Fooks

Re:How (1)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512336)

Say "fucks" but with a Highland or Liverpudlian accent, "fooks" (ie, like Groundskeeper Willie, Ringo Starr, or Lister from "Red Dwarf").

I used to teach music theory, and one of the few great classical introductions to counterpoint was by a guy named "Fuchs". All my students called him "fuks". Hilarity would ensue.

First Post! :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7511970)

Seriously, this is great news.

Firstus Postus (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7511977)

PLEASE!!!! LET ME WIN!!!!!! DON'T BE A FAILURE!!!!!!!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
*dies*
ad fasjdfjsaklfj;aslkfjl;sajdfasjlfj;lasho8weajafjl sdjflkdlfjasflkashfaeihaodfajflkdashflidhfliaufidl ifjasldfjlasfjlkasjdflajdsfjlkasjdfajfldjlkjafljls dfjlasjflajsfasjfljalksfdasf

Wrong (0, Troll)

Trolling4Dollars (627073) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512040)

That should have been "Firstus Pontus"!!!! :P

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512201)

Just so you know, we all thought that was funny. I bet it was the sig that did you in.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512282)

Yeah. You might be right, but I've been seeing a little more "Fair" and "Balanced" moderation on my posts for a while now.

Sweet! (2, Interesting)

zx-6e (604380) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511980)

As long as the NDIS wrappers support all the capabilities of the cards, this is great news!

Re:Sweet! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512017)

An NDIS driver provides functionality to make the card work. Its a standard way to operate with the card from a program if you dont know a particular card's interface. So no, NDIS does NOT support all the capacilities of the card as far as alternate forms of authentication and the little extra goodies the manufactorer puts in. But, it will get the card working with its basic functions which is better then not working at all.

Thank you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512214)

As long as the NDIS wrappers support all the capabilities of the cards, this is great news!

...Captain Obvious.

Not the best solution (3, Insightful)

mocm (141920) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511984)

compared to a native driver, but certainly helpful in reverse engineering the windows drivers.

Support supported cards (3, Interesting)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511985)

Would someone care to point out which cards have native Linux drivers available? Once we have this list I think we should go out of our way to buy from vendors with Linux drivers.

That's Easy (5, Informative)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512011)

Here's a nice list at HP [hp.com] of cards that work.

Re:Support supported cards (3, Informative)

pyros (61399) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512238)

cards besed on the prism chipset and the orinnoco/hermes chipset(s) work very well. Cisco aironet cards have worked pretty well for me, too. I think the big stinkers are the broadcom based ones.

Excellent News (1)

j0keralpha (713423) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511987)

My one major issue with my D600 (Dell/Centrino) laptop is the fact that i cant take advantage of the wireless in it under Linux, i have to install another card. Hopefully this will soon lead to Intel/2100 card support and we can all be happy again!

3 of 4 initial posts are trollbait. Trolls are so cute and Fuzzy!

Re:Excellent News (1)

op00to (219949) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512347)

The Intel/2100 card works on my IBM T40.

Double edged sword (4, Insightful)

Mr Bill (21249) | more than 10 years ago | (#7511992)

This is kind of a double edged sword. Now that you can use NDIS drivers under Linux, it will be that much harder to convince these companies that providing a native Linux driver would be good for their business...

If you are in the market for one of these cards, buy from a company that supports your OS of choice...

Re:Double edged sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512052)

Shouldn't people have done that already, instead of figuring it out later?

Re:Double edged sword (4, Insightful)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512069)

Heh, this sounds like the OS/2 problem:

We make a better DOS than DOS, and a better Windows than Windows!

So who'd bother writing for OS/2 when I can just write for Win or DOS?

Re:Double edged sword (2, Insightful)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512295)

Except that very few companies write for Linux anyway. Of course, very few wrote for OS/2 too but linux have a much stronger community than OS/2 ever had.

We don't even want closed source binary drivers. We want the specs for the hardware.

I don't think there ever was a OS/2 problem as it is described. Noone wrote for BeOS either and BeOS didn't have ANY apps. Surely it's better to run windows apps than nothing.

Re:Double edged sword (2, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512445)

That's often mentioned as an argument against a competitor's legacy systems, it's more complex than that. Linux and OS/2 are substantially different.

Back when IBM attempted to push OS/2 to the buying public, it was a $100+ product, while DOS/Windows was "free" (it seemed free from the end-user perspective, in that it came with every computer and customers couldn't reduce PC cost by declining DOS)

Today, however, Linux is a $0 product, and some buyers now have the option of bare-bones systems where Windows(r) would look like a $299 add-on.

So OS/2 was more expensive than Windows. Using it to run Windows apps was wasteful. But Linux is less expensive than Windows, so if it turns out it can run Windows stuff adequately, people will turn to Linux as the cheaper choice.

(And then, when/if Linux gets major marketshare, more new commercial programs will tend to be aimed at Linux first)

Re:Double edged sword (1)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512123)

This is kind of a double edged sword. Now that you can use NDIS drivers under Linux, it will be that much harder to convince these companies that providing a native Linux driver would be good for their business...

If you are in the market for one of these cards, buy from a company that supports your OS of choice...

I completely agree. It's quite obvious that tech is about market share and mind share--gettimg everyone to adopt your product. If people buy your product, you are doing sowething right. If people buy competing products, the companies will figure it out and adjust their strategy.

Most of these companies are more than capable. Look at IBM: in the presentation that was referenced here on /. (now offline because IBM clamis it was not for public release) the presenter essentially brags about how IBM has like 15 or 25,000 linux workstations deployed company-wide. If everybody quit buying from them and started buying laptops and desktops preintsalled with Linux (single- or dual-boot) from their competitors and then telling them about it, they would harness some of that know-how and start selling and supporting it on consumer-level hardware.

Re:Double edged sword (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512137)

Even microsoft complains that many of the crashes in their OS are due to bad drivers - doesn't this just open up the linux world to potentially shoddy driver code with no recourse of fixing it? The upside of open source drivers is that we can fix the problems when (not if) they occur. There is a significant downside to supporting a company that does not release open source drivers - IMHO they better have a really good reason, and most of the reasons they typically come up with don't cut it.

Re:Double edged sword (1)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512245)

Even microsoft complains that many of the crashes in their OS are due to bad drivers

I guess we'll find out how true that is, won't we. Just because Microsoft says so doesn't mean it is so. (Nothing against MS there, that's true of any corporation)

Either way it turns out will be good for computing as a whole, I think. Either MS will have to face the facts and make some changes, or the hardware vendors will. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Re:Double edged sword (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512145)

Now that you can use NDIS drivers under Linux, it will be that much harder to convince these companies that providing a native Linux driver would be good for their business...
Running a driver in this NIDS wrapper might make reverse-engineering the driver a lot easier, so this step might lead to a bunch of open-source drivers for the cards. This has been discussed on lkml [iu.edu]

Re:Double edged sword (4, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512361)

This is kind of a double edged sword.

That's the same argument that comes up around Wine, or other projects that allow non-native applications to run on a platform- backward compatibility might discourage creation of true native apps.

It's a valid concern. But for the position Linux is in today, it looks like a degree of Windows compatibility will help more than it hurts.

If two systems can share binary applications and drivers, then a barrier for users to switch between those systems has been reduced. Compatibility might encourage switching in either direction- but the rule of thumb is that lowered switching costs helps minority solutions increase their popularity.

Virtually everyone uses Windows(r)... if switching to other things were easier, then more people will switch, and the number of Linux installs will increase.

If you are in the market for one of these cards, buy from a company that supports your OS of choice...

One way a company might "support" linux is by including this wrapper module with the hardware, and pointing Linux customers to instructions on how to use it. This way, hardware vendors can take a gentle slope towards native Linux support: their initial investment in software programming is minimized, but they can get accustomed to the idea that some of their customers are buying for Linux, and that the platform deserves support in the future.

Wrapper should send e-mail to hardware vendor (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7511995)

The wrapper should send an e-mail to the hardware vendor every time it loads. As more people use the wrapper, they get more and more e-mail. Perhaps they would rather write proper Linux drivers than get more e-mail. ;-)

Re:Wrapper should send e-mail to hardware vendor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512185)

That's actually an excellent idea! Although, the person getting the driver should be forced to view a page (the first time) letting them know that an email will be sent each time they get on a wireless network. Maybe some type of EULA? Don't flame me!!!!!!

Spam is bad, mmmkay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512202)

If I ever meet you, I WILL KICK YOUR ASS!!!


Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING
GODDAMIT, I'M INTENDING TO BE YELLING!

Re:Wrapper should send e-mail to hardware vendor (1)

colinduplantis (454258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512264)

Ah, but the tax [slashdot.org] on the email would be prohibitive ;-)

Re:Wrapper should send e-mail to hardware vendor (3, Funny)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512380)

You don't REALLY want to usher in a time when network device drivers surreptitiously send email, hit websites, etc. Do you ?

omg im so cool! i post on slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

.silG.00 (683700) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512002)

we just chillin at the holidae inn!

Lube issued by Army costing lives in Iraq (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512028)

Re:Lube issued by Army costing lives in Iraq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512466)

See? This is the problem with the "Don't ask, don't tell" ploicy.

Cross Platform Drivers (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512038)

For quite a while now, I've considered what sorts of problems would be inherent in cross platform drivers. Usually, the problem seems to come back to a difference in the way kernels manage their drivers and differences in the way that I/O is done between OSes. Perhaps a "Driver Adapter" could be built that would allow drivers written for it to run on any OS? The basic concept is that the adapter itself would be a driver for the OS, then the "Cross Platform Drivers" would deal directly with the adapter.

Anyone have any thoughts on why this would or wouldn't work?

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512122)

Anyone have any thoughts on why this would or wouldn't work?

Because there's absolutely no business reason why Microsoft would care to support such a standard? And if Microsoft isn't on board, it is just an academic exercise with very little real world value?

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512146)

> Because there's absolutely no business reason why
> Microsoft would care to support such a standard?

The adapter I'm describing requires nothing from the OS vendor. Yes, someone will still have to code the OS specific adapter code, but that's not necessarily the vendor. Once completed, the adapter would plug in like a normal driver and all Cross Platform drivers would plug into the adapter.

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (0, Troll)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512219)

The fact that it'd be easy to do doesn't change the fact that Microsoft would set loose the squads of ninja attack lawyers and have the engineers find a way to fuck it in the next service pack.
Do you think hardware vendors want to have lawyers fucking them with a service pack? Didn't think so.

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512259)

That's not a particularly helpful response. For example:

Do you think hardware vendors want to have lawyers fucking them with a service pack?

Only if Microsoft wants to keep going to court for Anti-Trust violations. If they kept pulling crap like that, eventually they'll screw up so badly that every judge in the US is going to throw the book at them.

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512328)

The adapter I'm describing requires nothing from the OS vendor. Yes, someone will still have to code the OS specific adapter code, but that's not necessarily the vendor. Once completed, the adapter would plug in like a normal driver and all Cross Platform drivers would plug into the adapter.

If Microsoft doesn't support the driver model, none of the current Windows IHVs will either.

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512370)

> If Microsoft doesn't support the driver model, none of the
> current Windows IHVs will either.

That depends on how much cross platform support is worth to them. If the ability to release the same driver for Window, Linux, and FreeBSD exists, and you need support for multiple platforms to compete, why not use it? Not to mention that it would simplify porting between Windows versions. Right now, IHVs are screwed over every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows. Now, instead of going back and rewriting their drivers to work with yet another DDI change, they simply have to recompile against a new adapter.

Remember, the people who write these drivers are programmers just like you and I. If you could give them a good technical solution, they'll take it. All their boss will notice is that his programmer(s) seem to be porting a hell of a lot faster than before.

Microsoft. ;) (0, Flamebait)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512156)

It wouldn't work because Microsoft would never buy into it. They'd much rather that official drivers be for Windows only, and since they're 90% market share they'll get their way.


For the time being it appears that binary Windows drivers will become the de-facto standard for hardware-specific drivers at least until Microsoft starts falling apart and/or somebody comes up with a good way to make native binary drivers work with our plethora of kernels.

Re:Microsoft. ;) (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512180)

Please read this response [slashdot.org] .

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512183)

nice idea but not easy to support high performance for all types of devices. Something like a wireless lan card might be ok for web browsing through a "Driver Adapter (software)". But I would not want to funnel all my communications for my recently slashdotted primary business website through a driver adapter (mucho overhead). There may be ways to support these things but this type of idea usually ends up in a "lowest common denominator" type of solution.

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (2, Informative)

Ann Elk (668880) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512338)

NDIS is a cross-platform network driver model, or at least it was when I worked with it ~10 years ago. An NDIS driver never calls the OS directly; everything goes through the NDIS wrapper, thus providing an abstraction layer over the actual OS.

Now, if someone will just write a similar layer for Linux that can load Windows NT filesystem drivers, then I can get read/write access to my NTFS partitions... Hmm...

Re:Cross Platform Drivers (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512434)

> NDIS is a cross-platform network driver model, or at
> least it was when I worked with it ~10 years ago.

Are we talking about the same NDIS? The info page describes NDIS as a DLL loader and Windows driver interface. There's nothing there to indicate that it's based on a standard that was around since before Windows 95.

This is not necessarily good news (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512042)

Good news : I can get that %^*@$# network card going now.

Bad news : Nobody will bother to write Linux drivers soon enough, they'll all say "why bother, we'll just make a Windows driver and tell people to use the wrapper.

Net results :

- This makes card vendors inclined to think only the Windows platform is truly important

- This allows Microsoft to have the option of one day changing, subtly messing up or adding undocumented calls to their API, slowly leaving Linux people in the cold as all card vendors transition.

- I would think native drivers are faster / more efficient / more full featured than drivers running under emulation. That might not be the case though, but more often than not, running alien binaries in any OS isn't known to be as fast as the real McCoy.

Re:This is not necessarily good news (5, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512160)


Bad news : Nobody will bother to write Linux drivers soon enough, they'll all say "why bother, we'll just make a Windows driver and tell people to use the wrapper.


This is already happening. The excellent 3COM 990 series (the network cards with a RISC CPU and memory on the card), for example, have their own firmware and API that hugely simplified writing a wrapper for Linux, to the point that there isn't a real driver. While the wrapper-drivers work, you don't get the benefits of CPU offloading and profiling that you get under Windows 2000.

Regards,
--
*Art

Platform independent drivers (3, Informative)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512048)

This wrapper sounds a bit like the UDI Project [project-udi.org] creates a universally consistent driver DDI across all platforms. All drivers are source code compatible for all platforms with an environment. Drivers are binary compatible between platforms with a common C ABI.

Unfortunately Caldera was the main weight behind this, back when they actually did something silly like write code to make money instead of sue. They fell on hard times and essentially pulled support, and it's been dead in the water since.

Helping (Out is useless): +1 , Patriotic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512064)


Fire [bushrecall.org] the
Liars [whitehouse.org]

Thanks and have a John_Ashcroft_free day,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Helping (Out is useless): +1 , Patriotic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512203)

you guys are assholes, how dare you say that bush hasn't done anything for this country. He has done alot more the CLITon, why don't you fags go and live in another country where you don't have the freedom we do here in the good ol' USA

Pontus Fuchs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512073)

Pontus Fuchs

Well now that I know that, I might consider asking him out.

Re:Pontus Fuchs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512096)

Is he somehow related to Klaus Fuchs [crimelibrary.com] ? I mean, Klaus was a traitor to the country while Pontus seems to be a traitor to the Linux community (yes, allowing network card manufacturers to not have to consider writing Linux drivers is not helping the Linux community).

Re:Pontus Fuchs (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512144)

Fuchs is normally pronounced "fewks".

But I don't want to spoil your joke :)

Re:Pontus Fuchs (1)

mrtroy (640746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512317)

Pontus Fuchs your mother.

It works even with your pronounciation

Re:Pontus Fuchs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512176)

I find that amusing, yes, I do ..

Why does Michael Jackson wear that glove? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512081)

...so he doesn't leave fingerprints on the kid

Licensing issues (3, Interesting)

sgf (1581) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512095)

How does the licensing work with this? If it's GPL, isn't it being linked (albeit in a kind of weird runtime way) with proprietary code? It seems a nice idea to write code in order to export the features of proprietary code into open software, but how do you distinguish it from programs that do the opposite?

Re:Licensing issues (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512140)

How does the licensing work with this? If it's GPL, isn't it being linked (albeit in a kind of weird runtime way) with proprietary code?

It works the same way as when you make proprietary programs that link to GPL libraries, i.e. it's not legally totally clear that you can, but so far it's an accepted view that dynamically linking isn't quite the same as statically linking GPL code in yours.

At least that's how I understand the GPL/non-GPL dynamic library linking debate that's been going on for years.

Re:Licensing issues (2, Insightful)

mrroach (164090) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512189)

Because the GPL is only a distribution license. The user can link against whatever they want. That's why proprietary kernel modules are ok.

-Mark

Re:Licensing issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512272)


Kernel modules are only okay because of a special permission granted by Linus beyond the GPL.

Basically, dynamic linking is seen as "functionally equivilant" to static linking, in the eyes of the FSF.

No, I don't belive this has been to court.

Re:Licensing issues (1)

christooley (215314) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512290)

Actually that's not true. The reason that proprietary kernel modules are OK is because Linus says they are. It's his special stipulation that allows this and is not allowed the GPL even it's tolerated.

Re:Licensing issues (2, Insightful)

PugMajere (32183) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512346)

No, Linus added that *well* after he began receiving contributions from others.

There is no reason to think that Linus has total control over the licensing restrictions that the kernel is distributed under.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.

Kernel space? (2, Insightful)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512118)

Is this implemented in kernel space still? Is it possible to implement a driver wrapper like this in Ring 3, or at least in Ring 1 or 2, thus reducing the effects of a driver crash, instead of Ring 0?

Re:Kernel space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512248)

Yeah, that's a great question. Why can't a driver, which only needs direct access to hardware, be implemented in user-space? Gee I wonder.

Re:Kernel space? (2, Insightful)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512276)

I don't see why it can't go through e.g. mapping memory and using real-time signals or reading from a device file to receive interrupts...

Next step: integrate with Windows Update (3, Insightful)

mentin (202456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512161)

I can see that soon this will go to Windows Update to find new or updated NDIS drivers.

Looks like more and more Linux is simply emulating Windows. But if you run Windows drivers and Windows programs via appropriate emulation layers, why not simply run Windows?

Re:Next step: integrate with Windows Update (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512352)

You can't exactly tell by looking at the screen that your wireless nic is running a windows driver.

And why should I run windows if the programs runs in my OS of choice. Win32 is an API you know. Anyone with the right skills can implement it. The original may or may not be the best one.

one bad thing (3, Interesting)

termos (634980) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512196)

The only bad thing I experienced when testing this NdisWrapper was that I needed Linux 2.6.0-test8 or higher.

I don't want to run a beta version of Linux, so is there any good reason for this?

Re:one bad thing (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512255)

Read more carefully: There is a way to build it in 2.4.x since about yesterday.

Re:one bad thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7512298)

I would be far more worried about this alpha-quality ndis-trickery crashing my system than a 2.6.0-test kernel.

The reason that this is required: Interference (4, Insightful)

Karora (214807) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512204)

There are people here claiming that we'll never see Linux drivers because of this.

The main reason this is required, however, is because the latest chipsets for wireless give too much control to the software. That means the user can theoretically control transmit levels and frequencies, and make their transmission interfere with other people's communication.

Since the transmit power levels and frequencies are all set differently in different parts of the world, the closed-source software is needed to restrict people's control over the hardware.

And that is a real bummer. It is hard to support closed-source Linux drivers - people don't particularly like them, there are thousands of different kernels out there (each distribution has about fifty or so current at any one time, not to mention all the patches you can download from kernel.org).

As a result, this doesn't surprise me at all. I think it's probably the only way modern WiFi will be supported under Linux. That doesn't translate to the end of the world, however, since the regulatory situation is quite different for almost everything else in the computer.

Re:The reason that this is required: Interference (4, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512300)

"Since the transmit power levels and frequencies are all set differently in different parts of the world, the closed-source software is needed to restrict people's control over the hardware. "

It's a matter of opinion that "restricting people's control over the hardware" is necessary or appropriate. If there is some compelling state interest, then it should be considered a defective and/or dangerous product, which ought to be dispensable only to licensed purchasers.

Treating it as a problem that the consumer owns does not solve the problem. Just because the manufacturer hasn't enabled the consumer to alter the card's programming, doesn't change the fact that the dangerous device has been distributed into the wild.

As soon as some independent party (not subject to the US law-by-agency-order), creates software to unlock these cards, the disabled-by-obscurity features will be open. If that's a problem for the state, then they should have considered it before allowing the product to be sold.

If some product can be converted to a weapon, the fact is, the weapon is in the consumer's hands whether you've told him how to convert it or not. You hold some of the responsibility for this product getting into the consumer's hands.

Re:The reason that this is required: Interference (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512363)

That's a nice fantasy.

It's a matter of opinion that "restricting people's control over the hardware" is necessary or appropriate.

No, it's a matter of law and economics.

Look, in most parts of the US (all?) you're not allowed to make significant modifications to your own house without getting a license. You CAN do it. You MAY NOT do it.

In most of the world, you're not allowed to broadcast on various frequencies. In much of the world you're not allowed to broadcast at all.

But there are plenty of consumer devices that will (with just a little tweaking) let you do so. The sellers of these devices are required to make sure they comply with local laws out of the box. What the consumer does after that becomes tricky, but generally not the fault of the manufacturer.

Taken to an extreme: Ford is not responsible if you use your truck to kill your neighbor. Nor should they be.

Re:The reason that this is required: Interference (1)

jsebrech (525647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512412)

Taken to an extreme: Ford is not responsible if you use your truck to kill your neighbor. Nor should they be.

Following your argument, why don't the wireless card makers release specs then? If they're off the hook regarding using these wireless chipsets for illicit purposes, why don't they just release the specs?

Re:The reason that this is required: Interference (1)

The Vulture (248871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512456)

This is an unfortunate side-effect of the FCC regulations (not that I'm saying to abolish them).

From the hardware vendor's point of view, it makes the most sense to make a generic, software programmable transmission device. This way, they need only one hardware design for the entire world, just different drivers (although they won't tell you that, of course).

Imagine how much this stuff would cost if they actually put the limits in the hardware itself (R&D would be insanely expensive). Perhaps some sort of EEPROM type storage would work to hold the values that aren't supposed to be change), but if that fails (or is reprogrammed), then you have a problem.

Looks like I'll be stuck at 802.11b for a while, until the 802.11g solutions open up a bit. A Linux driver might not work for me, since my OS of choice at the moment is FreeBSD.

-- Joe

MIT license would be better here (1)

Brett Glass (98525) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512213)

Even though this code is for Linux, it would be better if it were licensed under an MIT or similar license. That way, it could be incorporated into many non-Windows operating systems, from Linux to NetBSD.

We also need... (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512222)

A stable Linux driver API/ABI. This is getting ridiculous. Windows drivers compiled for a 5 year-old version still work on the current version (maybe a slight exageration), while a driver compiled for 2.4.21 won't work with 2.4.22. Not only that, but even with the same version, driver compatibility depends on SMP option, highmem, ...

Re:We also need... (1)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512302)

...driver compatibility depends on SMP option...

Well, if you want spinlocks bogging down your uniprocessor kernel go right ahead, but I'd prefer not to.

Re:We also need... (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512388)

Like it's going to make that much of a difference. BTW, the preempable kernel patch (included in 2.6) now requires SMP locking even on uniprocessors, so big deal.

Re:We also need... (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512360)

Only binary-only drivers need that kind of ABI stability... The rest of the world has no problems at all....
A five year old ABI might be nice but you are also dragging five year old mistakes along.

Jeroen

with this module we can now put DLLs in /usr/lib ? (1)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512291)


So does the dll loader part almost give us:

Kernel support for COFF (DLL) binaries?

Then all these media encoders that use DLL's don't need the wine hacks.

or...
(COFF) Kernel core (/proc/kcore) format

(ha ha)

What's the best laptop for running Linux? (-1, Offtopic)

user555 (145309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512398)

I'm in the market for a laptop and plan to use Linux as my primary OS.

I'd like to avoid incompatiblity headaches and want something that I could install Linux on easily and have everything just work.

Something with an integrated wireless card that worked out of the box would be great as well.

Anyone have anyone have any recommendations?

What a private business would do to fight this... (-1, Troll)

zymano (581466) | more than 10 years ago | (#7512411)

A commercial business would take these harware makers to court since they are only making their product to work with only ONE company . Microsoft has been to court over their monopoly practices and has lost. There should be LAW that states that these hardware makers must release documentation\specs or create drivers for open source. If you ask yourself why should a private company be forced to hand out their own secrets then think about this , those same companies make alot of their money on electronic standards that are open to everyone so hardware can be interoperable(DDR-Ram/Mobos). My problem is mainly with the government case and how shortsighted it was. They needed to tackle the computermakers(OEM=orig.equip.manuf.) that have only one operating system available to new computers(microsoft) and these specialized hardware makers that could care less about anything other than Windows. The law must correct unfairness in the markets and they still aren't doing it.

Thank you.
Eric Martin
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