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OpenBSD Ahead of Linux for Wi-Fi Drivers

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the alle-menschen-sind-auslaender-fast-ueberall dept.

256

algae writes "It looks like some kernel developers have noticed that the OpenBSD project is including reverse-engineered drivers for wireless ethernet cards while Linux is still using binary blobs. A large part of the issue is that much OpenBSD development takes place abroad, where having to do clean-room reverse-engineering isn't as important." From the article: "Christoph Hellwig took another stance, 'please don't let this reverse engineering idiocy hinder wireless driver adoption, we're already falling far behind openbsd who are very successfully reverse engineering lots of wireless chipsets.'"

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256 comments

Ha, wireless BSD (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519242)

I just started using FreeBSD 6.1 recently and I was surpised about the ease of setting it up. (Still not for the faint of heart, but Windows isn't either. If you want a nice custom setup that does what you want, you need a lot of time in Windows). My primary laptop is a P-III 600MHz with 512Meg RAM. An old fucker I bought for peanuts. It didn't have a network interface, so I added a Sweex wireless adapter [sweex.nl] . It shows up in both FreeBSD as Windows under RaLink 2500. (Note that Sweex is a cheapass brand, but for another product I had *excellent* support by email with them)

Linux.... Nothing... No out of the box recognition.

OpenBSD also recognised it but doesn't support WPA-PSK which I do require. FreeBSD supports WPA-PSK. I've been an OpenBSD fanboy for a long time, but I like FreeBSD equally now. Linux... well, somehow I have problems with most distributions. Either philosophical problems or technical problems :-) With *BSD, I have neither.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519309)

I want to sniff some ASS-PANTIES!!1!!!~1!!

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (4, Interesting)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519366)

I went to a presentation by the OpenBSD developers during their Hack-a-thon, and they indicated that WPA was not a very high priority for them. They prefer to do authentication with auth-pf, and if encryption is needed they prefer to use VPNs. It does make it a PITA if you want to use a network you have no control over, but the OpenBSD crowd are like that sometimes.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (2, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519418)

It does make it a PITA if you want to use a network you have no control over, but the OpenBSD crowd are like that sometimes.

Yes, it does... but it still won't keep me from financing them. They have an excellent server platform and I just delegate the wireless functions to embedded devices. It just keeps me from becoming a desktop/laptop OpenBSD user, but I don't think that it's their target.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519751)

Yup. Where they're good, they're great, and where they haven't bothered to give something attention they're crap. It doesn't keep it from being a good OS, or a pleasure to work with when you work with it, it just means it can't do everything and you have to be prepared to use something else when it's not well suited.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519424)

Is the Sweex adapter strong enough to go through 6-feet of dirt? Perhaps we'll see a new reality TV show where the host walks around graveyards with his PDA looking for BSD installs.

host: Can you hear me?
BSD: login:

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (3, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519483)

I know you mean this as a joke, but no.... it isn't. I have a 80 square metre apartment made of concrete and the signal of my Linksys WPA is weak 5 metres away in the living room. The sweex adapter gets high noise and low signal.... Both in Windows XP and FreeBSD.

This is not the fault of the operating systems, it's the concrete.... One doesn't have to be a genius to figure that out.

My parents have a wooden house and the same Linksys WPA. With my network adapter I can go anywhere and have a perfect connection.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (2, Informative)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519476)

rt2x00 is on the way to future kernel inclusion. In the meantime, the drivers derived from Ralink's code, which is in turn derived from their NDIS sources, are more than usable.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519499)

Good to know, I always wanted a Linux desktop :-) I'll try in december... By then support will be there.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519581)

Saying that "Linux" doesn't support your ra2500 is a bit misleading. RaLink itself has provided GPL drivers [ralinktech.com] . As long as it isn't in the kernel yet, it't up to the distribution to included it. For instance, Ubuntu 6.06 includes the drivers and my ra2400 worked fine with it, while Slackware 10.2 doesn't.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (3, Informative)

BTG9999 (847188) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519837)

If you use the rt2500 cvs driver it works great even on smp systems for Linux. I was using the rt2x00 becuase until late May the rt2500 driver would lockup SMP systems and Fedora only has SMP kernels for the x86_64 systems now. I don't use the rt2x00 driver anymore because it has some problems. However, I have not lookedinto it for about a month. Just go to http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/wiki/index.php/Down loads [serialmonkey.com] and grap the latest rt2500 nightly tarball. Also if you don't want it to mess up the fglrx driver from livna you need to change the install directory in the makefile otherwise it will remove the directory the fglrx kernel mod is in. After that you can use all the standard tools to configure the wireless card. However it is the rt2x00 driver that appears to be destined for the kernel since it is built from the ground up to be used in SMP systems.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519570)

There's a Sourceforge project for that exact card: http://sourceforge.net/projects/rt2400 [sourceforge.net] , whose code is included by the Ubuntu team an worked my Ralink 2500 mini-pci straight out of the box. Unfortunately, the code support for USB'd devices is coming along rather than solid.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519641)

My card is a PCMCIA card. Didn't work.... Perhaps my ubuntu was too old.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519873)

The rt2500 driver has been in Ubuntu since 5.10. Perhaps noone's asked them to develop a PC card edition. Careful checking indicates that the project has moved to http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/ [serialmonkey.com] . They have phpBB which mught be able to help with Linux support.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (2, Informative)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519766)

I've used an rt2500 based WLAN-card on Linux, several months (a year?) ago. It worked well, but the driver was based on vendor supplied code that didn't integrate well with the rest of the kernel (duplication of effort, etc). That's why it isn't included in Linus's tree. But in the case of Ralink wireless chipsets, you actually get some vendor support for Linux, with actual working GPL code. I'm pretty sure the driver is included in Ubuntu 6.06.

Re:Ha, wireless BSD (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519807)

Good to know... I downloaded 6.06 recently, but didn't have the time yet to try it out. It would be great if my wireless would be supported.

in other news... (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519996)

...linux supports thousands of other devices that BSDs doesn't support. Seriously, why a "openbsd ahead of Linux" story written in this way? It looks like some people love to start flamewars between linux and BSD communities or what? Linux developers are just as interested in getting opensource drivers just as the next guy. We're all in the same ship.

Obvious question: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519243)

Why do coffins need WiFi?

Re:Obvious question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519637)

Another obvious question: why was this called flamebait?

(note: I did not post the parent, I just think it's a lousy mod)

This seems bogus (0)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519252)

This seems bogus.

If *BSD has the drivers, then they're licensed as a bsd licence. That means it's a day's work at the most to port them to Linux and re-release as GPL. That means Linux always has the same drivers as *BSD

Unless someone's been lazy

Re:This seems bogus (-1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519310)

You're right. In fact, it's sort of semantics to talk about this at all.

NdisWrapper [sourceforge.net] has been around for ages, and it works great.

I guess it's not being counted because it isn't part of the standard kernel or included in the distros.

It works without problems for the most part - allowing Linux to support all wireless cards without reverse engineering.

Re:This seems bogus (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519335)

ndisWrapper isn't counted because the thing it's wrapping around is a binary blob. That's basically the opposite of a BSD driver.

Re:This seems bogus (1)

fjf33 (890896) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519446)

There are many things that don't work with ndiswrapper. Wireshark (formerly Ethereal) is one.

Re:This seems bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519696)

Honestly, I've always seen API emulation like this as being the only pragmatic solution to the problem at hand. Almost always, a new piece of hardware has Windows support of some kind, so why not co-opt it? At least that way, the only truely hard part is somehow meshing the ocean of .msi, .exe and .zip files for drivers with RPMs and the like.

Sure, we'd all like to have a lean-and-mean kernel with drivers to match, but sometimes its just not going to happen without breaking a law or two. So where's the legal alternative that doesn't force me to look for compatible hardware?

Ndiswrapper is shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519945)

I don't know were you get this 'ndiswrapper works great' stuff from, but it doesn't. It may work great for you, and it may work great for certain wifi cards, but it doesn't work at all for the majority of use cases.

As far as OpenBSD reverse engineering drivers, good for them. AT least they CARE about Free software, unlike a lot of Linux users that pay to have their system locked away from them by paying for closed source drivers like OSS sound drivers or Linuxant closed source stuff instead of actually supporting Free software driver developers.

If people don't care about Free software drivers why are they even fucking around with Linux-based system? They will always be miserable and always be bitching about Linux developers doing stuff to break their favorite closed source drivers. They'd be better off using a closed source operating system like OS X.

Re:This seems bogus (3, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519313)


I think the problem is that the BSD code may not be considered "clean room" by the Linux people, hence it's "dirty" (not my opinion) and not to be touched. You can probably trace a lot of this obsession to the SCO lawsuit.

Re:This seems bogus (2, Insightful)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519342)

I think the problem is that the BSD code may not be considered "clean room" by the Linux people, hence it's "dirty" (not my opinion) and not to be touched. You can probably trace a lot of this obsession to the SCO lawsuit.

But developing Linux drivers with documentation under NDA is popular, though.

Re:This seems bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519385)


Drivers developed under the constraints of an NDA are usually released as blob, no?

Re:This seems bogus (2, Insightful)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519467)

> Drivers developed under the constraints of an NDA are usually released as blob, no? Not always. There are several drivers in the Linux kernel with docs under NDA. UltraSPARC III support, for instance. Drivers written with docs under a NDA are the open source equivalent of a blob.

Re:This seems bogus (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519507)

Drivers written with docs under a NDA are the open source equivalent of a blob.

But the GPL source is still there, and that counts for a hell of a lot.

Re:This seems bogus (3, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519316)

I think it is a combination of laziness and philosophical issues. Linux is being held back by both unfortunately.

Re:This seems bogus (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519384)

Yeah, because all the BSDs and Linux have identical kernel interfaces, PCI subsystems, DMA handlers, etc. A simple ./configure; make install is all that separates OpenBSD's kernel from 2.6.15, after all.

In reality, on the other hand, the reverse engineered drivers can serve as excellent documentation for how the same logic can be implemented in another OS, but that's about as close as it's likely to get.

Re:This seems bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519548)

OK, let's look at this legally.

Is the internal of the WiFi a secret?

If 'Yes' then do a linux driver from this information. You cannot be held liable for a trade secret when it has been divulged.

I take it the only reason why not is that lawyers get paid for being arseholes.

Re:This seems bogus (2, Informative)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519636)

i've taken a large linux driver and gotten it running in free with no
source changes by defining the linux interfaces as macros and
inlines. i think the only thing that didn't just fall out was
the bit-sense of PAGE_MASK.

i don't see any reason why you couldn't do the same thing in the
other direction.

Take Action (3, Insightful)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519257)

Far too many people have a careless 'U.S.A. laws suck, merge it anyway' attitude

Sometimes, like at this point, it's the right attitude. They better take action soon, or openbsd will make them look like a joke.

Re:Take Action (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519587)

Sometimes, like at this point, it's the right attitude. They better take action soon, or openbsd will make them look like a joke.

Oh, puh-leez. You think Red Hat & SuSE are going to drop Linux and pick up OpenBSD, just because OBSD has better wireless support?

Re:Take Action (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519736)

As a US-based user, I think that attitude is sometimes the correct one. It may preclude them from getting corporate funding here, but it won't stop a lot of users from running it.

I've thought for a while that it would be nice if somebody based in a nice, free jurisdiction (Sealand or similar) put together a "Functional Linux" disto. Something that ignored all the artificial, non-technical barriers that make Linux a bit of a PITA to install. Built in MPEG encode and decode. Built in eBook decryption. Built in video codecs for every possible format. Strong encryption. Etc.

Sure, it wouldn't be legal anywhere, but people would use it anyway. I wouldn't want it to become a mainstream distro because of the PR damage it might to do Linux, but it would be nice to show people how many of the perceived limitations of Linux are actually legal or philosophical, and not technical, in origin.

SCOX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519971)

Sure, it wouldn't be legal anywhere, but people would use it anyway.

Do we really want another SCOX after us?

OpenBSD supported wireless chipsets (4, Informative)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519258)

can be found by reading the man pages [openbsd.org]

Re:OpenBSD supported wireless chipsets (1)

h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519443)

That page can be a bit misleading since some cards, like _some_ revisions of Cisco's Aironet, require a firmware update to work with OpenBSD.

You heard it here first... (4, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519266)

Linux is dead. Now, when will BSD be ready for the desktop?

And pretty soon... (2, Funny)

jpardey (569633) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519413)

netcraft will confirm it.

Next year is the year of BSD on the Desktop (1)

Error27 (100234) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519702)

Hope that answers your question.

Wait wait wait... (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519870)

Has Netcraft confirmed this?

yay for BSD (3, Interesting)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519269)

Well as the article itself says the clean room method isn't required by law. It would seem to make sense then to drop it until it is required by law, or alternately host your distribution overseas and have the developers working on the drivers be non-US residents as well, so that you are less vulnerable to US law. Wi-Fi problems are one of the reasons this laptop doesn't run Linux, although BSD is sounding cooler and cooler.

Re:yay for BSD (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519298)

And by routing all traffic through this proxy in international waters, all otherwise illegal MP3s become less vulnerable to US law! Score!

Re:yay for BSD (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519379)

It would make the vessel more vulnerable to conventional warhead ballistic missile from the US attack. And RIAA is more than willing to lobby for such an action.

Re:yay for BSD (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519648)

And by routing all traffic through this proxy in international waters,

GP wrote overseas not over-the-seas! :)

You can help end this argument (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519283)

BLOBs are bad, and their legality in the kernel is questionable. Of course really free drivers that let us extend devices are better.

Leaving BLOBs in the kernel might just mean you have different plaintiffs than if you used a reverse-engineered driver.

However, full clean-room reverse-engineering a free driver with full source code, rather than one that you have to disassemble and figure out, is a reasonably easy task. And, we have to write a Linux driver anyway. So, find one friend to work with and get started.

One person must not write any kernel code concerned with the driver. That person must read the existing driver, document the hardware, and publish the document. The document should not reproduce algorithms in the existing driver unless they are integral to driving the device and there isn't another way to do it.

A second person must not look at the existing driver. This person reads the document and writes a new driver.

Keep notes about the entire process. You could someday have to testify that you did it the right way.

Bruce

You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519326)

What would end the argument, Bruce is open-source hardware.

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

mctk (840035) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519358)

...as would the zombie apocalypse.

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519397)

AC wrote: What would end the argument, Bruce is open-source hardware.

Yes, that would be excellent. How do we get there? OpenCores.org has the start. However, all of the gate-arrays that they have to work with have a proprietary bitstream format and thus they require proprietary tools to program them. We need an Open Source gate-array to facilitate Open Source hardware. Initial full-custom full-wafer mass fabrication cost is about $1 Million. At that point, you can get the parts down to a reasonable price. You can do small runs in MOSIS (or whatever they have these days) to make sure the design works before you go that far.

I figure this is at least $2 Million to get done. We need good hardware designers and people to help write the grant. If I can hook up with such people, I'll do whatever I can to help. I don't have the hardware expertise to lead this, or I'd already be started. Any volunteers? I'm quite serious.

Bruce

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (2, Informative)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519576)

We need an Open Source gate-array to facilitate Open Source hardware. Initial full-custom full-wafer mass fabrication cost is about $1 Million.

Please don't forget the software, as most intelligence for programmable logic is contained there. Developing a wafer for an FPGA is easy compared to writing synthesis/P&R software for it. Automatic place and route is a really hard problem [wikipedia.org] .

I figure this is at least $2 Million to get done.

I'd double that, and allocate most of it to synthesis/P&R software. Although such software obviously needs to be free (libre), I think you really want to pay people to write it or it'll never become useable.

I don't have the hardware expertise to lead this, or I'd already be started. Any volunteers? I'm quite serious.

Apart from the sheer amount of work, I have to admit it does sound like fun. Although I only have experience in targetting FPGA's (I've written a couple of microprocessor cores as well as some I/O devices), not developing them myself.

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519709)

Hm. There are two issues here and I'm a bit confused regarding which you mean.

One is place-and-route of the full-custom design itself. We might have to use proprietary software to make the mask. I'm not insisting on starting from first principles.

The second is compiling VHDL to the Open Source bitstream. In this process you have to decide how to make the requested logic by interconnecting the raw logic blocks of the gate array. My impression is that Open Source does exist to do at least part of this job. I don't know how good it is.

Bruce

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (2, Interesting)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519798)

Hm. There are two issues here and I'm a bit confused regarding which you mean.

Place-and-route for the logic to load into the device.

My impression is that Open Source does exist to do at least part of this job. I don't know how good it is.

I know of free (libre) VHDL synthesis software targetting silicon (eg. Alliance [lip6.fr] ), but I'm not aware of similarly licensed P&R software targetting programmable logic. And even if it were to exist, because the problem is so very hard I don't think it's going to be any good. If a company is going to put in 25 or more man-years to write a piece of very specialist software, they're going to ask money for it, not release it under the GPL.

Xilinx has been working on their own synthesis/P&R software [xilinx.com] (which is gratis for their lower-end devices) for a couple of years now, but it is still being outperformed by more [synplicity.com] expensive [mentor.com] software [synopsys.com] .

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519997)

(replying to myself is probably a bit of a faux-pas here, but I'll do it anyway)

An interesting project (sadly now discontinued) was MPGA [archive.org] : an FPGA in programmable logic. That's a very nice way to develop and test various techniques for implementing programmable logic devices. Probably a lot cheaper than having multiple mask iterations too.

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519719)

And don't forget licenses for simulation/verification software either... that stuff is insanely expensive. There's no gcc for hardware yet..

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519849)

There's no gcc for hardware yet.

Yes there is [ghdl.free.fr] .

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519925)

That's a simulator. It doesn't create a netlist.

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (1)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519948)

Grandparent explicitly asked for simulation software:

And don't forget licenses for simulation/verification software either... that stuff is insanely expensive. There's no gcc for hardware yet..

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (2, Informative)

Theovon (109752) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519824)

OpenCores isn't the only open hardware group. Check out www.opengraphics.org, particularly the OGD1 section. Real hardware engineers are making real hardware, and they're making it OPEN (and libre).

Re:You can help end this argument-Buy foreign (2, Interesting)

SigILL (6475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519448)

What would end the argument, Bruce is open-source hardware.

I take it you mean as in programmable logic? That's not much of a solution either. You still need good documentation, as reverse-engineering VHDL/Verilog code is hard (speaking from experience here).

What's maybe interesting to note here is that most asian hardware manufacturers are rather open about their hardware documentation, notably ralink and realtek [theaimsgroup.com] . Companies like intel and texas instruments still don't want to cooperate. Something to keep in mind when purchasing new hardware perhaps.

OpenGraphics project (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519714)

What would end the argument, Bruce is open-source hardware.

We're working on it. The OpenGraphics project [duskglow.com] is working on an open-architecture GPU which will have BSD-licensed drivers, and GPL'd board schematics and artwork.

There's nothing stopping another group of hackers setting up similar projects: OpenWireless, OpenSATARaid, ...

Especially since the OpenGraphics project will be bringing out an PCI card with a big FPGA on it soon (OGD1). Although it'll be primarily aimed at development of the OGA graphics pipeline, it's got a big header on it, so there's no reason it couldn't be used for something else. Accelerating POVRay, perhaps?

Re:You can help end this argument (5, Interesting)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519426)

> BLOBs are bad, and their legality in the kernel is questionable.
> Of course really free drivers that let us extend devices are better.

It would be helpful if the Linux developers would be more supportive
of OpenBSDs work on getting hardware manufactures to release
documentation that is not under a NDA. When OpenBSD had the campaign
for release of wi-fi chipset docs, it seemed that the Linux developers where
sitting on the fence.

Re:You can help end this argument (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519434)

Can you say why?

Re:You can help end this argument (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519580)

That was impression during that time, though Raadt was later
on giving public recognition for this (2004 FSF Award). I do
not imply that Linux developers does not care in general.

Re:You can help end this argument (4, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519639)

I remember being copied on some of the discussion between Theo de Raadt and Richard Stallman. I think what happened is that Theo started out to get BSD-licensed BLOBs from manufacturers. And then, perhaps even through discussion with Richard, Theo was convinced that BLOBs were bad even if they were BSD-licensed. There was also some discussion from Theo about the fact that FSF and Richard hadn't ever supported Theo's work. And at some point they must have worked all of this out.

But FSF aren't the Linux developers. If you ask them, they will be very adamant about that.

Bruce

Re:You can help end this argument (2, Insightful)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519857)

BLOB != firmware

i can hardly imagine theo was ever supportive of the idea of shipping a bsd-licensed blob with openbsd

Re:You can help end this argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519704)

How many Linux developers work for the companies making the wireless cards? (Honest question, I think the Intel guy does.)

why not ask for permission first? (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519687)

I realize, of course, that many companies supply proprietary Linux drivers, but will not release the source. They don't want to support the Linux code, and they may have 3rd party licensing arrangements that prevent them from opening the source. In many cases though, they are not making money off the driver. TurboPrint drivers are a notable exception.

In the cases where they are not directly selling a driver, you may be able to get written permission to reverse-engineer the company's binary driver. Even when they will not release the source. Don't overlook the possibility. The worst they can do is say no. But getting such written consent in-hand is a much more reliable way of protecting yourself and Linux, than any clean-room technique.

new Slashdot software... (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519744)

As far as I can tell, the new Slashdot software does not prevent the joke posting from coming before the one with substance. :-(

Blob is bad! (3, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519292)


I really hope the OpenBSD group's steadfast stance on "blob" is maintained. The Linux guys, who overall don't seem to mind blob, sound like they're starting to see the light. In the end it can only be good for all open source, not just OpenBSD.

Re:Blob is bad! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519498)

Openbsd is going to maintain the anti-blob. I was down a wireless security with openbsd talk in Calgary after the hackathon last week which Theo attended and you can be sure OpenBSD will maintain the anti-blob. The discussion about blobs centred around what has been said before on openbsd.org. OpenBSD is first and foremost about security in its default state. You can't include arbitrary code that you don't compile yourself in such a system, you can't verify that's it doing what it says its doing. Further more Asian developers are more then happy to hand over all the required spec documents to get wider support for their wireless chipset. American companies however are going the otherway and would rather build drivers for each system the feel is important enough to warrent them.

I'm sure they have their reasons but at the end of the day their way attempt at full circle development control will probably back fire. In an attempt to maintain a clean intellectual property enviroment where every participant is governed by NDA's and priorities are set by Mama corporate they have traded in creditabilty and grass root adoption. Whether this will ultimately cause them bottom line trama will be determined later in life. But one must only look at the economic trend in america as a whole to take a guess as to where this is going.

America is becoming a service industry economy and losing its development and manufacturing roots, those jobs are being shipped oversea to asian companies that care more about making product then protecting copy rights. The cards that history played out however means that America still has trillions in wealth and the world's economies will continue to market heavily to americans to buy their products. Until that money dries up and their attention turns elsewhere. Once that occurs you won't see Toyota putting plants in Indiana to demonstrate how many local jobs it produces. It will put them in South America where the labour is half the price.

As I see this is just another example of how American values of fairness, quality, openess and honesty have been lost in the boardroom and consequently the world is turning elsewhere.

Hillbilly1980(damnit what's my password)

Re:Blob is bad! (2, Funny)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519538)

I find the title of your comment to be offensive :)

Elegy for *BSD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519303)


I am a *BSD user
and I try hard to be brave
That is a tall order
*BSD's foot is in the grave.

I tap at my toy keyboard
and whistle a happy tune
but keeping happy's so hard,
*BSD died so soon.

Each day I wake and softly sob
Nightfall finds me crying
Not only am I a zit faced slob
but *BSD is dying.

Bootable Distro? (2, Interesting)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519311)

Fantastic, I just read through the supported chipsets and my laptop's onboard chipset is on there. So now I want to test it. Are there any decent bootable CD distros (Knoppix style) of OpenBSD that I could simply download and play with? If so I'd be more than interested in getting Windows off of it and cruising with BSD.

Re:Bootable Distro? (2, Informative)

freshman_a (136603) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519504)

The only one I'm aware of is OliveBSD.

http://g.paderni.free.fr/olivebsd/ [paderni.free.fr]

Haven't used it myself, however.

Re:Bootable Distro? (2, Informative)

GunJah (264670) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519618)

I believe Open BSD has a live monowall distro, and Free BSD has one here [newsforge.com] .

I'm sure there are others.

Re:Bootable Distro? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519624)

I remember playing around with either Open or Free BSD on a live CD a while ago.

Search those sites, and I'm sure you'll find it.

Abroad? (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519331)

"A large part of the issue is that much OpenBSD development takes place abroad, where having to do clean-room reverse-engineering isn't as important." Nonsense. Everyone knows that lots of patents and lawyers encourages innovation. You must be mistaken on this point. /sarcasm. Sigh, I guess we knew it was coming but as a 'merican, Its still hard to see stupid policy beginning to drag us off the world stage of innovation.

confused... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519336)

So what exactly is stopping them from download ing the BSD drivers and making a linux driver from the BSD sourcecode?

Is there some kind of problem with that?

Re:confused... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519354)

Skill.
Not that it's -extremely- hard. But few code monkeys can do it right while maintaining the high kernel code quality standards.

Re:confused... (1)

convolvatron (176505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519550)

this is joke, right?

Re:confused... (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519823)

Try it for yourself. If you're rather good with C, you'll need about a week of learning to write first meaningful line of code that could be included in the kernel.

confused...Golden rulez. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519410)

"Is there some kind of problem with that?"

Just make certain they "give back to the community" like the GPL community expects others to.

Re:confused... (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519462)

Well, presumably, if the (paraphrased) "much BSD development is done where the law doesn't demand clean-room reverse engineering" statement really is a valid difference between OpenBSD and Linux, the legally (in some parts of the world, presumably where much Linux development is done) tainted OpenBSD drivers would remain tainted, and thus Linux developers in those parts of the world would face legal jeopardy for porting them.

Of course, if this is really the reason, the OpenBSD drivers are probably illegal for distribution or commercial use in those parts of the world, not just illegal to port.

I'm not going to comment on how valid this distinction is, since I'm far from an expert on eitehr geographical distribution of development effort on various open-source OS's or differences among international jurisdictions on legal jeopardies associated with reverse engineering.

Re:confused... (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519877)

In which case, clean room the OpenBSD driver - the hard work (reverse engineering) has been done - use the OpenBSD sourcecode and docs to write a spec, then have someone else implement the spec. The OpenBSD source can speed up the clean room process.

ha! linux everything (1)

mtjs (918147) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519347)

There should NOT be a need for reverse engeneering drivers of any kind. Oh and linux should get some kind of ... driver ... driver.

Open Secrets (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519371)

If those OpenBSD drivers are under the BSD license, doesn't that mean anyone (except the very few under some kind of other legal constraint for some other reason) with the chops can port them to Linux? And those chops don't have to be as tight as the original BSD coders. Shouldn't the lead be very short-lived?

Re:Open Secrets (2, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519603)

Shouldn't the lead be very short-lived?

No. Finding someone "with the chops" and interest simply isn't easy. There are simply tons of projects in the open source world that would be done very quickly if someone with the skills would do it. Instead, you have to wait around for someone with skill to get that particular itch.

Re:Open Secrets (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519743)

Well, not to mention that it's pretty difficult to write and debug drivers for hardware that you don't own.
Even if you found someone who'd be willing to work on them, chances are they won't have examples of every different wireless card available for testing. However, one-by-one, I think yes, the lead-time could easily shrink. But chances are you'd have to find a new developer for each wireless chipset, unless you're willing to donate hardware.

(It would be cool if there was some kind of pool resource that people could donate hardware to for developers to use, though that sounds awfully complicated to organize. :)

Re:Open Secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519835)

Re:Open Secrets (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519806)

Yet the much smaller BSD developer community has enough people with even rarer skills?

And even if so, doesn't that demolish the excuse that Linux lacks drivers because of proprietary tech blocking the path? Rather, the reason is that Linux developers just don't produce the drivers they could.

I don't believe either of those propositions. That's why I believe the BSD lead will be short-lived.

BSD vs Linux (0, Flamebait)

alxkit (941262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519392)

so you're saying that linux is more secure? allright!

ndiswrapper for *BSD? (3, Interesting)

schweini (607711) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519682)

i just finished fighting with my PCMCIA WiFi card and ndiswrapper and wpa_supplicant, becasue they only choose to work when they feel like it - everything from Segmentation Faults to perfected working happens from time to time - I guess it's because of the voodoo invloved in making a windows driver run on linux, so i guess i shouldnt complain. but it still begs the question why there's no "ndiswrapper for *BSD drivers", or something along those lines. AFAIK, windows drivers have to have a rather rigid interface (NDIS?), and this might not be the case for the BSDs, but i'd still guess that it should be easier to build a wrapper for other open-source drivers than for windows drivers?

Almost on-topic! :) Wireless USB on Linux? (0, Offtopic)

timothy (36799) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519761)

I have a few different wireless USB dongles; I have a netgear (model number slips my mind, and it's not handy) that's the size of a USB thumbdrive, and a few Proxim externals that are bigger -- they look a bit like a radio shark, and contain a full-sized PCMCIA card (Lucent, I think).

I know people handier with fooling around with their systems have gotten both of these models to work, but can anyone name a distro that makes USB wireless (within reason, as in "using widely supported devices," which I understand these both to be) truly plug and play? For some devices (old laptops with broken PCMCIA slots, shoebox machine with no free slots) USB's the only hope for getting wireless, but I've never found a distro that said "Hey, you've got a wireless USB dongle -- cool!" (even metaphorically).

timothy

If they can do this for wi-fi cards... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519783)

can they also do it with video cards? I'd love to see the day when I can use an open source nv driver and still have a usably fast rxvt.

Re:If they can do this for wi-fi cards... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519893)

They can- but a 3D accelerator's MUCH more complicated to push than a WiFi card.

This is not news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15519834)

In my experience, My toaster has more good wifi drivers than linux. :P

In other news! (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 7 years ago | (#15519839)

Linux ahead of BSD in everything else!
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