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Linux Centrino Driver Update

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the talking-more-about-it dept.

Intel 273

Edy52285 writes "An article on News.com talks about how Intel has been, and still is, dragging on releasing their Linux drivers for Centrino. Intel is reluctant to release its drivers as open source since doing so would reveal secrets about their wireless hardware. Linux in currently unable to take advantage of Centrino's wireless networking devices, without, that is, prying $20 from your thin wallet to buy Linuxant's DriverLoader (discussed in an earlier story). Will Swope (Intel's General Manager of Software and Solutions Group) said in an interview said "What I believe will happen is we will end up having a Linux compatibility driver that is not open source at first, then designing future drivers in such a way that they are open source but will not expose intellectual property," Intel seem to be taking its time on releasing the drivers, and even in the article, there is a lack of any commitment on a date or under what conditions the drivers will be released." Also, someone pointed out that it's worth checking out ndiswrapper for the driver.

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Secrets? (1, Interesting)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087451)

What secrets are these? Back doors for governments? Insecurities? What could be so bad that the open source movement can't see it?

Re:Secrets? (5, Insightful)

echion (219637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087465)

Hardware details -- it's like a chef not wanting to talk about his latest recipie, because that's the big secret. Sure, you and I probably don't have the cookware (hardware fab plant), but other restaurants (AMD and Qualcomm) would probably be very interested.

Re:Secrets? (4, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087567)

I know that the word is taboo around here, but isn't this precicely what (hardware) patents are for? From what I understand, they are pretty easy to get.

Re:Secrets? (2, Insightful)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087616)

They take time. What would be the point of finally shelling out centrino 5yrs down the road? And backroyalties would be pointless because the patented technology would be so outdated.

Re:Secrets? (1)

JohnTheFisherman (225485) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087678)

Why would they go out of their way to risk it? Not only that, but trying to detect and then further prove that a particular hardware feature has been infringed upon in someone else's chip?

Re:Secrets? (5, Interesting)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087630)

If the other restaurants are interested by any means, they already bought a couple of Centrino devices and crack-opened them. One of the most exciting jobs within bigger companies is the reverse engineering department. (Of course, the legal claim for that dept is not to do industrial espionage but to detect copyright frauds of the evil competitor...)

Trying to obscure hardware by only handing out binary-only drivers and hiding the API from the average programmer does not help at all against professional counterfeiting / industrial espionage. But it's quite amusing to see a company like Intel play the security-by-obscurity song.

They should know better.

Re:Secrets? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087731)

> They should know better

Odds are Intel does know better than you armchair engineers.

Re:Secrets? (1)

battjt (9342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087635)

So why didn't they wrap the secrets in a more abstract interface? Why must the software API expose these secrets?

Joe

Re:Secrets? (2, Interesting)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087645)

But wouldn't it be obvious that your stealing their IP? If Intel found out, they can just sue them. I'm sure the tech is patented so AMD would have to license it to use it anyway.

Re:Secrets? (1)

CaptainAlbert (162776) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087475)

> What secrets are these?

At a guess: "Trade Secrets"; those pesky things that give you an advantage over your direct competitors in a market.

Re:Secrets? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087487)

Controlling a microwave radio with bits on a data bus from a digital processor issuing an interrupt signal is an invention and highly protected intellectual property. Please respect that. Jobs are at stake.

Re:Secrets? (4, Funny)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087599)

Please respect that. Jobs are at stake.

Well, they were. The last of the engineers were fired last Thursday.

Re:Secrets? (4, Informative)

Fortunato_NC (736786) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087499)

Much of the actual work of the Centrino wireless hardware is performed in software, much like the "Winmodems" that were so widespread a few years ago (and, I guess, still are - does anyone make a modem with an actual UART on it anymore?) Intel is hesitant to provide the information that will allow people to write a driver for Linux, because that information would necessarily provide 100% of the software engineering necessary for someone else to create a Centrino-like hardware solution.

Re:Secrets? (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087545)

"Intel is hesitant to provide the information that will allow people to write a driver for Linux, because that information would necessarily provide 100% of the software engineering necessary for someone else to create a Centrino-like hardware solution."

Well, that sucks for them. Perhaps they should have built a real wireless device rather than taking away CPU time for something that is best handled by a seperate device.

This revealed, do most linux users even want a Centrino-based laptop?

Re:Secrets? (5, Informative)

water-and-sewer (612923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087627)

This revealed, do most linux users even want a Centrino-based laptop?

Hells yeah! I'm within a year of replacing my old PIII 550Mhz Compaq laptop, which has been a trusty and faithful machine until recently but is now starting to give me hardware problems.
My next machine would be a Dell 300M running SUSE because it's ultra-portable, but thanks to Intel dragging their feet my next machine will probably be a G5 powerbook running Fink. Actually, Dell gets part-credit. Their recent quality control problems have made me suspect the reliability of their hardware.
That's the way the market works. Hey Intel, thanks for playing, but this ball just went over the fence!

Re:Secrets? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087676)

recent? Recent?

Dell has been having QC problems for...years. Almost since the very start of the company. It has to do with theier business model.

Re:Secrets? (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087633)

and make the device larger and take up more power? That would defeat the purpose of this laptop technology.

Re:Secrets? (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087638)

The whole point of the Centrino setup is its lowpower Wifi. I think this will be moot in the
next generation of laptops considering Broadcom & Philips [com.com] have already cooked up
their own even lower power chipset.

I won't make any claims on the validity of these numbers [216.239.41.104] {---Google Cache
Since i couldn't find the Yahoo Article they mention
- $12 a chipset
- 97% less power consumption than Intel Centrino in standby mode
- 70% less transmit power consumption
- 90% less receive power consumption
- 802.11g "not that far away"
~And this was October 2003

Re:Secrets? (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087713)

Perhaps they should have built a real wireless device rather than taking away CPU time for something that is best handled by a seperate device.

Intel's entire strategy over the last 10 years has been precisely to move as many functions as possible into the CPU. This enables them to justify selling processors with far more horsepower than anybody needs for word processing or browsing, and it lets them assert control and influence over a much larger fraction of the hardware market.

That's why they keep adding more multimedia-oriented units to their architecture; it's also why they designed the P4's memory architecture to be mainly good at streaming blocks of video data.

Their strategy has been relatively successful up to now. There's just no way that they would design a totally stand-alone wireless solution to be tightly marketed with their CPUs.

In fact, just from the Centrino marketing material, you'd get the impression that the CPU itself is handling the wireless functions. Perhaps they plan to move that logic into a future mobile CPU chip.

Re:Secrets? (1)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087752)

Much of the actual work of the Centrino wireless hardware is performed in software [...] Intel is hesitant to provide the information that will allow people to write a driver for Linux, because that information would necessarily provide 100% of the software engineering necessary for someone else to create a Centrino-like hardware solution.

That's fine, because it makes the case even clearer. So what I'm buying when I buy Centrino is actually closed source, proprietary software. And I can't even ditch it like the operating system that came with my laptop, because the software is so closed that it even locks up some of my hardware from me if I don't use it.

If Centrino is all-software (or mostly-software), all the better. Then all the arguments why I don't like it have already been made.

Re:Secrets? (5, Informative)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087503)

AFAIK, the radio emissions from the wireless card are regulated (by the FCC in the US?) so as to avoid interference with other spectrum users. Much of this regulation is acheived through the close-source drivers.
Using modified drivers, it would be possible to make the card emit different frequencies or more power, thereby violating the usage licence.

Re:Secrets? (1)

OutRigged (573843) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087724)

Wow, if that's true, this makes me want a Centrino laptop even more now. :)

Re:Secrets? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087727)

which is not a concern of the manufacturer.

most US companies PRAY they'll get away with producing something that'll get snapped up by the GP due to a flaw or workaround that makes the item valuable.

Re: Intel's market down down down (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087549)

The solution is "no to buy Intel Centrino".

The other solution is:

To buy "AMD Athlon XP Mobile" or "AMD Duron Mobile" or "AMD Athlon64 Mobile" or magically "AMD Athlon32 SOI".

open4free

Re: Intel's market down down down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087666)

I'm sure your boycott of intel will work as well as your boycott of MS and Amazon.com and the MPAA and the RIAA and your boycott of English class.

Yeah, that sucks (-1, Flamebait)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087454)

(typing this on a Centrino-based WinXP laptop)

Re:Yeah, that sucks (2, Insightful)

tomcrick (687765) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087526)

(typing this on a Centrino-based WinXP laptop)

Indeed.

However, when I decided to purchase a decent wireless card [buffalotech.com] , I would've liked to have been able to use it under Linux without paying extra. When you spend nearly UKP50 on the card, a discount on the Linuxant driver [linuxant.com] (at the very least!) would have been a nice gesture.

I MET THIS LITTLE GIRLIE, HER HAIR WAS KINDA CURLY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087456)

WENT TO HER HOUSE AND BUST HER OUT, I HAD TO LEAVE REAL EARLY

Huh! Do the worm ya'll! Now the robot! Ed Lover dance! Are you down with me?

MY MOM WAS ALL "GO CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087565)

AND I WAS LIKE "FUCK YOU HITLER" BECAUSE SHE IS SUCH A FACIST.

Then I kickflipped to indy-grind off the cat and stabbed her with my Linkin Park pen because I'M THE PUNKEST 12-YEAR-OLD.

Re:MY MOM WAS ALL "GO CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087591)

Skating? Linkin Park? That shit is sooooooo y2k. Parent is "strate 80's dope".

WE ALWAYS HANG IN THE BUFFALO STANCE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087655)


we do the dive every time we dance

ndiswrapper (5, Informative)

theridersofrohan (241712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087472)

Linux in currently unable to take advantage of Centrino's wireless networking devices, without, that is, prying $20 from your thin wallet to buy Linuxant's DriverLoader

Not true. I'm using the open-source ndiswrapper [sf.net] project together with the win32 drivers, and it works, although a bit buggy. See here [ucl.ac.uk]

not buggy here (1)

Karma Sucks (127136) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087541)

Works perfectly on my Compaq Presario X1000

Re:ndiswrapper (4, Insightful)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087542)

So we get all the bugginess of a windows driver giftwrapped in the bugginess of a linux alpha wrapper...

1. Don't give specifications away
2. Tech-savvy high-end linux users don't buy your product
3. ???
4. Profit???

Re:ndiswrapper (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087580)

  1. Don't give specifications away
  2. Tech-savvy high-end linux users don't buy your product
  3. ???
  4. Profit???
Unfortunately, it's more like this:
  1. Create new device that isn't very well implemented and give it a meaningless marketting name
  2. Release Windows drivers so that your OEMs can use it in Windows.
  3. Let OEMs market it to their sheep customers who just go with it without bothering to research things, not realising that it really isn't anything better than before but go "oooh! Intel!"
  4. Profit.

Re:ndiswrapper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087761)

How many OEMs are clamoring to ship Linux-based laptops? Not even IBM ships Linux on their gear.

Not to mention there's a whole raft of other issues: power management, acpi, sleep/suspend, video drivers, etc. Linux on laptops is not quite there yet.

If one of Intel's customers made a phone call, you'd see these drivers in second. However, none of them are willing to make the call.

Re:ndiswrapper (1)

racermd (314140) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087765)

I don't think it's about the Open Source vs. Closed Source, or even about discovering the "secrets" in their hardware design. There's no reason why they couldn't write a binary-only driver specifically for Linux. The fact that they haven't done so already is probably a clue pointing at their true motives. Chipzilla and M$ have been "in bed" together for many years, and we all know how Microsoft feels about Linux.

I'll let you do the math...

And thus... (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087474)

...I won't buy a "Centrino" laptop. That's fine, since Apple's laptops are looking more appealing anyway, and still run Linux. Some of those new AMD offerings in mobile computing, as well as Tranmeta's installation in some of the Sony lines make them nice options as well.

Re:And thus... (0, Troll)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087631)

> and still run Linux.

They also run OS X Panther!

Re:And thus... (1)

LonEagle (95147) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087653)

Airport extreme cards don't work under linux, I'm told... so you're not much better off there.

Re:And thus... (1)

bogie (31020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087738)

Great for the .0005% of people who buy Apple laptops and then actually run Linux on them. Not so great for the rest of the world. You look at a decent laptop and chances are that it has Centrion "Inside".

When someone as big as Intel refuses to support linux on its hardware out of "IP" concerns. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the world, let alone smaller hardware vendors? Not good PR that's for dam sure.

Re:And thus... (2, Informative)

plj (673710) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087772)

But Apple's AirPort Extreme WLAN cards aren't supported under Linux either, according to Yellow Dog's support [yellowdoglinux.com] . They neither support modem, bluetooth or external displays. Hell, they even don't support sleep, which kinda sucks in a laptop. At least most Centrino laptops probably support APM (and ACPI, if you can tune it to work).

I have an Apple 12" PowerBook. Never tried running Linux on it, though.

Which brings up a good point... (2, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087477)

Why should anyone be surprised that a company that makes its money off of proprietary designs should be at odds with a movement to wrest control away from proprietary vendors?

Isn't this why Stallman insists on running only Free software?

Re:Which brings up a good point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087663)

RTFA -- Intel is not at all "at odds" with Linux, and is in fact one it's biggest supporters (up to and including paying part of Linus' salary). Flaming over a missing driver is completely petty.

Re:Which brings up a good point... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087691)

Stallman doesn't discuss FREE hardware. In fact, he believes in proprietary hardware.

Thats why linux sucks... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087478)

Slow driver releases, buggy drivers, no drivers at all. Just not enough support for linux at this time to warrant it a place on the desktop.

Re:Thats why linux sucks... (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087511)

Still, the fact is that Linux runs on almost anything you throw it at, only beasted by NetBSD. The trick is to buy supported hardware, which really isn't that hard.

More accurately than "buy supported hardware" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087585)

is "don't buy any hardware that hit the market less than 6 months ago." This usually gives kernel hackers enough time to reverse-engineer the Windows drivers (which have worked from the start) to a useable alpha release.

Help me. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087482)

I have just ejaculated over my cat. What should I do now?

Re:Help me. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087535)

why do you need help? It sounds like you have accomplished what you set out to do. Congradulation!

Open Source NdisWrapper that supports Intel (2, Informative)

Angelonio (744297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087485)

Intel PRO/Wireless Lan (Centrino)
For more info:
http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/

ndiswrapper (3, Informative)

Tooky (15656) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087488)

http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

This is an open source implementation that allows linux users to load their windows drivers and use their WiFi cards.

Its still very new, but there has been some success with the centrino chipset, as well as Admtek, Atheros and Broadcom cards.

Re:ndiswrapper (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087632)

Any chance it supports the linksys wpc54g [linksys.com] ? Support for that card is the only thing keeping me from switching to linux on my laptop.

Re:ndiswrapper (1)

Tooky (15656) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087695)

There are a few reports on the mailing lists of success with that card :)

If you can dual boot for a while give it a go. The more people testing different laptop/card/distro combinations the better.

And precompiled? (5, Insightful)

alvieboy (61292) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087489)

Why don't they do like nVidia, release a pre-compiled binary driver core and an open-source, compilable interface, which hopefully will manage to unify all diferences between different kernel versions and distros ?

Alvie

Re:And precompiled? (1, Interesting)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087524)

They've not managed it on their nforce drivers. Maybe its too hard in some cases.

Re:And precompiled? (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087531)

Because people in linux land have this nasty habit of reverse engineering things.......

Re:And precompiled? (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087559)

and we can quit anytime we want to.

We just don't want to.

Re:And precompiled? (1)

originalTMAN (694813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087581)

then why not reverse engineer the windows drivers? I think it has to do distribtion quirks. But I'm not sure.

Re:And precompiled? (4, Insightful)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087573)

That would be more then fine with me, it's not like using the nVidia drivers makes you an outcast. nVidia is one of the most praised big names because they have been actively supporting Linux with their hardware for about 4 years.
If Intel would step up and prove that they support Linux, it would be a huge boost for Linux and extra appreciation for Intel from the Linux community. Even if they release a beta for Linux, you know that a large portion of users will actively assist in the testing and send in bug reports.

Not entirely true... (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087684)

In some circles using an Nvidia card does make you an outcast. Of course, those circles have a great deal in commong with extreme religious zealots, thusly making them some of the most judgemental and often irrational people to deal with.

Which is entirely to bad as some of what that group of does is extremely interesting and they have a tremendous number of things that they can contribute to greater society, but their extremely narrow views puts them at odds with the greater majority of society. Due to this, they actually go against what it means to be 'open'.

A good example is the UI programmer Mosfet, if I am remembering the name correctly, making it 'impossible' to compile his/her code on Redhat due to his/her philosophical leanings. It's really to bad since that that software is pretty darn cool and it would be really great if it was actually Open Source instead of partially Open Source due to zealous philosophical views.

Re:And precompiled? (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087692)

Actually, I think this is *exactly* what they're doing. Kinda "reading between the lines" what the Intel guy said. Either that, or they'll do a "white room" re-implementation.

Intel's not stupid; they want to offer their product as far and wide as possible. Given that Linux *may* become the Next Big Thing (TM) they want to be ready for it *without* losing their secrets. Can't blame them for that, they're playing it smart.

Simple solution (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087490)

We had exactly this problem.

Our solution was to write a proprietry driver, and then write a wrapper for this to interface it to the kernel. Release the wrapper under the GPL, then release our proprietry software as closed source.

Re:Simple solution (2, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087574)

That's not much of a solution. Most linux people aren't going to want to run a closed source driver. It makes support nearly impossible, since no one is going to even attempt to support your system if it has closed-source kernel modules installed.

Simple answer, Don't buy nutrino laptops! (4, Insightful)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087491)

Only buy opensource supported products. The demand
will drive the market. This is also what we would need to do as soon as the PC gets locked up with
the new Award Bios. Demand has to be so low that it
will just about drive the home PC vendors out of business. then and only then DRM will be dropped.

I'm stocking up on some hardware now, that way if my
desktop or firewall does die, I can build a new one.

Re:Simple answer, Don't buy nutrino laptops! (4, Informative)

TWX (665546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087766)

you miss the fact that the vast majority of people who buy these laptops don't care. When 95% of customers don't care, the 5% who do are ignored because of the profit that the majority brings.

Commitment on a date (1, Funny)

kivaapina (690008) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087494)

there is a lack of any commitment on a date
Looks like they're working in the same spirit as open source developers though...

Linux (-1, Troll)

1SmartOne (744638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087496)

Linux sucks. Not trying to be a troll but seriously people, give it up. -flamebait

Re:Linux (1)

wobedraggled (549225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087572)

And you base this on what?

Re:Linux (0)

1SmartOne (744638) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087675)

Maybe I just missed the point when I used Linux. I didn't pick it up. I'd rather use MS-DOS 6.22 than Linux. Mind you, I liked DOS very much and I didn't want to migrate to Windows at all when 95 came out. What makes it so vital to you /. readers? -Scott

Re:Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087743)

I've used linux. It sucks.

The one language they understand (4, Insightful)

Lucky_Norseman (682487) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087501)

Think like a capitalist and vote with your wallet.

Until they have a proper Linux driver, buy an AMD based system instead.

Re:The one language they understand (1)

evanothespanishbasta (675683) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087636)

but with amd now locking their processors its not a very appealing alternative for me...any other suggestions?? p.s i am not a fan of apple

Who are they hiding this from? (3, Insightful)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087504)

What trade secrets is Intel trying to protect? From whom?

Other chipmakers, I presume. So that nobody could produce an alternative wireless card to go with a Pentium M processor or some such.

But wouldn't anyone who's capable of designing and producing his own chipset be able to dissect the Centrino architecture and reengineer it, either by careful blackbox testing or by actually taking a microscope and looking at the chips? Am I way off mark here?

But if it's not other chipmakers they are protecting this from, if it actually is a software issue, then they are simply dancing to the tune of Microsoft due to whatever behind-the-scenes agreement they have with them.

Re:Who are they hiding this from? (1)

spydir31 (312329) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087646)

Wouldn't anyone interested enough be able to reverse engineer the binary drivers anyway?

Re:Who are they hiding this from? (2, Insightful)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087711)

Exactly. It's just that it takes too much time, and without corporate backing it will take a while until enthusiasts, hackers, whatever-you-call-them have gotten this time together. And in a market so fast-changing as this, a year or two until a free, reverse-engineered driver is released, puts it pretty much out of the question.

A hardware company (chip manufacturer, global player) would have much more incentive and the necessary financial means to achieve something like that.

don't use linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087540)

just don't.

friends don't let friends use linux.

the serious applications shoulduse QNX and/or SCO Unix (a fine piece of work, despite the suing assholeness), the non-critical users should use Windows, and the want-to-be-alternative users should use BeOS. Simple as that.

linux is blah. it's a home-made tank. not good for the war, not good for mass transport, not good for a family, not good for the alternative people. it's just a hobby os.

Much ado about... (2, Insightful)

SJ (13711) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087546)

In all honesty, I can't see what is so special about Centrino that Intel wants to keep it so secret.

It's a freaken' wireless chipset and a power efficient CPU. It's not like no one else makes them.

not so bad (2, Insightful)

the drizzle (724660) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087552)

What I believe will happen is we will end up having a Linux compatibility driver that is not open source at first, then designing future drivers in such a way that they are open source but will not expose intellectual property

So in other words, Intel is considering open source projects in the future. Isn't this news to get a little excited about?

How often in the past have companies brushed aside Linux? Many, many times. It gives me a bit of a fuzzy feeling inside to see guys like this being honest and forthright towards the Linux community.

I know in the short term it would be great if they would give us a bit more respect, but look a little further down the road...big companies are feeling pressure to do things the open-source way.

Do it like M-Systems... (4, Informative)

DarkDust (239124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087553)

M-Systems' DiscOnChips are very nice flash chips which we use in some ThinClients. While there is support for those in the 2.4.x kernel tree it never worked for us. So we took M-Systems drivers.

Now they seem to be in a similar boat: they don't like to give out their intellectual property. Their solution is what looks like a driver stub and a binary .o file which is the real driver which does the real work. This way you can build kernel modules for you favourite kernel with M-Systems not releasing any "critical" source code.

This practice means that you can't compile the driver into the kernel, you have to build a module (since the GPL does not allow building that propietary driver into the GPL'ed kernel, but allows non-GPL'ed kernel modules since they are not part of the resulting program or so... at least this what I recall Linus saying about that subject).

But having a module does the job as well, using an initrd we can boot from M-Systems DoC perfectly (in Real Mode they are accessible like a harddisk). The extra-effort is worth it since in our experience they are a lot more reliable than Flash IDE Chips, and reliablity is an important factor in embedded systems like ThinClients :-)

Intel could do it the same way: release a driver stub and a binary .o file which links together a kernel module. Et voila: Neutrino support for every kernel without releasing the real source code !

Re:Do it like M-Systems... (2, Interesting)

Trelane (16124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087669)

Indeed. If you look at the Linux Atheros driver [sourceforge.net] , Atheros and/or the people who licensed the proprietary bits from them provide a Hardware Access Layer (HAL) module that's binary-only. The rest of the driver can then just be GPL; the HAL takes care of hiding the precise details of talking to the card and doing all the FCC-compliance bits.

I bought the Intel card because I had the choice of Broadcom, which TMK has zero plans to release a Linux driver, and Intel, which has announced plans to. Both suck and will require ndiswrapper, but at least I can theoretically get native drivers for the Intel card in the future. [I just bought a Dell, after trying to get a laptop from other vendors for about 5 months; those were the options for the wifi card.]

I like your method, though. The problem with a HAL driver module is that it has to support your kernel; a .o file that gets wrapped into a module will be able to deal with different kernels better than having the binary bits be a whole module. niiiice.

Free Hardware (1)

Renegade Lisp (315687) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087563)

If we believe that software should be free, i.e. open and accessible to anyone, either for ethical reasons or simply because it will result in better technology, then I don't see why hardware should be any different. This world would be a better place if I had an enforceable right to get the specs of my car, my fridge, or my laptop, if I so desire.

Shame on Intel (2, Interesting)

jtshaw (398319) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087569)

Intel has been using linux to bring up there new products for years. If they want to protect there ip then the least they can do is release a driver in the manner of the nvidia driver is release. Sure I would perfer a total open source driver but baby steps would be ok for now.

Obligatory South Park Quote (0, Funny)

sethadam1 (530629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087583)

Presiding Council: What say you, Mr. Slashdot Ambassador?
Slashdotter: Ahem......FUCK INTEL!

FreeBSD users have an option: (3, Informative)

Anonymovs Coward (724746) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087602)

Read this post [freebsd.org] about using the Windows NDIS centrino driver (and other drivers) on FreeBSD, using the "NDISulator" (a.k.a. "Project Evil"). See this post [freebsd.org] for details on Project Evil. And unlike the linuxant thing, this is free.

Re:FreeBSD users have an option: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087617)

Or Linux users can use the free ndiswrapper [sourceforge.net]

buy "wireless ready" (2, Interesting)

asv108 (141455) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087623)

Why support a company that doesn't support Linux on the desktop? When I bought my x31 think nearly a year ago, the intel wireless driver mess was still up in the air. The company was giving extremely mixed signals, so I decided to buy my laptop wireless rdy. I ended up buying a minipci Dell trumobile 1150 off ebay that uses the orinoco chipset. I saved $40 and got a card that worked with Linux.

The whole Centrino bit is a textbook monopolist tactic called a tying agreement [lectlaw.com] . Intel can skirt around it because its still offering the pentium-m, but with no marketing support. The general customer is really confused and assumes that if the laptop does not have the centrino sticker, its not the best one.

Prism 54g (4, Informative)

Jacco de Leeuw (4646) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087639)

Better yet, get a Prism based [prism54.org] WLAN card. Then you will even have 802.11g, which the Centrino doesn't have, AFAIK.

These card are relatively inexpensive. There's no particular reason to pick a Centrino laptop because of the built-in WLAN support.

Re:Prism 54g (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087659)

Or, you could refrain from being a fucking faggot for once and use Windows XP like the rest of us red-blooded Americans do.

Stuck on WinXP (2, Informative)

Scumbag Tracker (650383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087668)

I've been a Linux zealot since 1995, but just two annoying things have forced me to spend 90% of my time booted into my WinXP partition on my Panasonic toughbook:

- swsusp is not reliable. Sorry, but I can't be patient when my fucking laptop hangs on the 2nd or 3rd resume. Cold booting and shutting down is just too damned slow, so I rarely bother anymore.
- lack of Centrino support. Bastards at Intel! I would not have purchased this laptop if I knew I would have gotten shafted on Linux support -- especially when I was under the impression Intel was Linux-friendly!)

Oh, and I guess a 3rd problem has begun to rear its ugly head now that I'm getting into video capture and editing via firewire. Namely driver support and applications. :-/

Ah, but I'll never give up Linux on the server OR my main desktop.

Notebooks (2, Interesting)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087673)

Are a pain in the ass. I noticed this the day a colleague tried to install Windows 1900 on a "Made for XP" notebook. OEM drivers were nowhere to be found, and all the new drivers refused to install because they were "optimized for XP." The CDs that came with the machine were only "disk image restore" CDs. so re-installing the OS was impossible.

Linux (Red Hat 9), of course, installed without so much as an extra line feed, and supported each and every device perfectly. This was a fairly new notebook as well. It was amazing.

Can't figure out why manufacturers go out of their way to make it difficult for people to work with their own computers the way they want. Centrino should be supported, especially with notebooks being as expensive as they are.

Re:Notebooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087737)

I just had this conversation with my mom who was tearing her hair out over the lack of software media that came with her PC.

Why do OEMs not package original software CDs with their PCs? Instead, you get what your were mentioning, some kind of system backup/image restore disk which is useless for those times when Microsoft Office asks you to "Please insert Office CD 3".

I recently bought a Toshiba laptop for my sister-in-law and it was class all the way. The included software was all provided on original disks (albeit OEM-labeled disks) and nothing was left out. Contrast that with my mom's Dell nightmare where she didn't have any CDs except for the system backup CD which really wouldn't have left her system in any usable state after it reimaged the entire disk.

I don't care if the CD is an OEM CD or a fresh-from-the-box publisher CD. I just want to have the original disks so that when I reinstall the OS (and I invariably will at some point) that I can do so without fucking around with some lame 'disk image restore' disk which installs things I don't want and leaves my machine more cluttered than I probably had it before I wiped the hard disk.

Re:Notebooks (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087759)

"Can't figure out why manufacturers go out of their way to make it difficult for people to work with their own computers the way they want.

cynical>

Money, perhaps?

/cynical>

Solve Linux notebook issues: get a PowerBook (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087683)

This article brought a sly grin to my face. I've been using Linux since 1997 on servers, desktop PCs and notebooks. Struggling to get all the hardware in a system working properly was par for the course. 3 months ago I bought an Apple 12" PowerBook, running OS X. And I haven't looked back.

Since then I haven't wasted a single second searching for drivers or wrestling with hardware to get it to work. Sleep and restore works 100% of the time. Bluetooth and wireless LAN are bulletproof. I'd almost forgotten what it was like until I read this article.

Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8087719)

Centrino's wireless networking speed is slow as hell anyway. 11 Mb/s! Wow, 1992 networking speed. Ho-hum. When it reaches gigabit ethernet, then maybe it would be worthwhile. Until then, it's lame and behind the times. Who needs it.

Why doesn't anyone sue Intel for unfair practices? (0)

jwr (20994) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087742)

I keep wondering why no one has sued Intel yet for
unfair business practices. Obviously even under US laws withholding information on hardware while providing it to select OS vendors can't be legal?

secrets?! (1)

treat (84622) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087756)

What could they so desperately want to keep secret? Usually there's just no reason for a hardware manufacturer wanting to keep secret the information necessary to write a driver. When they do this, it's out of ignorance (or sometimes Microsoft threats, but I havn't heard evidence of this happening lately).

What could Intel's motivation be? Is it to hide a huge flaw, or to hide a huge security vulnerability such as backdoored encryption?

Intel - bad carma - Windows (1)

DeanFox (729620) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087758)

Intel has partnered with M$ before and it doesn't supprise me they have a slow down going on supporting the Linux platform. Once I heard Intel was embracing, making special strides, supporting Windows DRM in their chips I decided my next purchase would not be an Intel.

Their company statement that they whole heartedly support DRM and will include it in their chips gave me pause. I don't want my CPU deciding and or regulating my morality. I certainly don't want my CPU playing digital overseer. It has enough to do running my PC.

And now, there's a reluctance and slow down supporting Linux with their chip. And after their partnership with M$ this doesn't supprise me.

It may well be that Intel will become the Windows CPU and AMD and/or others will be for the rest of us.

It's like a bad date. (4, Interesting)

MurrayTodd (92102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087762)

Distrust begets distrust. Secrets beget snooping. If someone (Intel) is going to be so damned hypocritical and lavish in Linux's support of it's product lines (especially the nice early Itanium support while Microsoft was getting is OS finished) they had better not complain when someone "hacks" a solution out of the chip.

It's like the who DVD-CSS mess. Linux people just wanted to be able to watch DVD's without runnning Windows. What resulted was a hack that made convertion of DVD's into cheap Divx copies easy and painless.

It feels like dating someone who never trusts you, never earns your trust (or respect) and goes hysterical when you don't behave exactly how they want. Reminds me of an ex-girlfriend, frankly.

Ohh spare cycles, yummy! (3, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 10 years ago | (#8087773)

The problem lies in Intels inherent desire to eat spare cpu cycles. Why? Because the more cpu cycles wasted on things better handled in hardware the more incentive to upgrade your cpu.

Those spare cycles could do something better than doing the hardwares work. Microsoft wants to have it all in windows if they can. That way they can tie the whole platform to windows cementing the monopoly on desktops. MS and Intel have had their jousts and Intel have always folded under the pressure. Intels project to make hardware more platform agnostic was stopped by MS who saw a threat to their Wintel Symbios.

There is nothing stopping eg. device drivers from being implemented much lower down like in the actual hardware, talking only in pre standardized APIs. Whats stopping that great innovation that would put a stop to driver problems and make it much more easy to develop new products?

Guess once!
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