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The Battle for Wireless Network Drivers

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the mind-the-nazgul dept.

Wireless Networking 163

An anonymous reader points out this Jem Matzan article "about the pain Linux and BSD programmers have in trying to obtain/write device drivers for various wireless cards," writing: This article also has a fairly detailed explanation of how wireless firmwares and drivers work. Two of the manufacturers are actively working with the FOSS community without requiring an NDA."

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163 comments

As someone that has been there (5, Interesting)

mycal (135781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374108)


Trying to develop wireless 802.11 interfaces for embedded platforms I agree that it is a total pain in a arse. I even knew people that I worked with before at broadcom and couldn't get them to kick down the Software API. We finally got a Philips BGW200 system working and that wasn't easy either since even after filling out NDAs we got messed around for a few months trying to get the right documentation.

But now it does seem that Atmel is working with people, and accourding to the article so is raylink.

What you can do to help is if you have choice, support these guys when you have to buy a wireless adapter even if it is a few bucks more.

-M

Re:As someone that has been there (1)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374266)

I think it's clear how difficult it is to reverse-engineer wireless drivers for linux. Just look at how hard it is to get your Linux laptop's wireless card working correctly, and multiply it by a million. - A grateful bcmwl43xx driver user.

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374544)

Have to post AC for this, but:
There is a small but growing movement in Intel to better support the OSS community, at least so far as making the binary object code redistributable, even if not modifiable. I know there are several in the OSS community that will say binary blobs are bad, but a start is a start. I was pushing really hard before I transferred out of the networking dept. a couple years ago.

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Funny)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374354)

Broadcom has a building in Irvine, or Anaheim I think. I don't recall where exactly, but I know i've seen it ... Somewhere in orange county (CA). If its really that bad, there have to be enough geeks in the area to go down to the building and protest for a few hours. This is America god damnit.

Just a thought.

Re:As someone that has been there (2)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374528)

If its really that bad, there have to be enough geeks in the area to go down to the building and protest for a few hours.

The best protest is to vote with your wallet. If their wifi product doesn't shift units because the guy down the street is providing free-as-in-(beer|speech) documentation, then maybe they'll consider their position. A polite letter (yes, letter, not email) to the company might be worthwhile too.

Re:As someone that has been there (5, Informative)

DavidNWelton (142216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374986)

I set up a wiki a while ago in order to track hardware that does not work with Linux and that you should avoid:

http://www.leenooks.com/ [leenooks.com]

It's going pretty well and seems to have become popular enough in its niche that it's not just me maintaining it, and it (almost) pays for the hosting, with adsense.

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Interesting)

richlv (778496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374584)

well, it is even slightly worse... recently i requested information about wireless chipsets used in adapters manufactured by some prety large and well known company. you know, the information that is easily obtainable once you have the adapter by running lspci, for example.
the response was... surprising.
"Due to proprietary and copyright policies of our company, this information is not divulged for end users."

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Informative)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375016)

"Due to proprietary and copyright policies of our company, this information is not divulged for end users."

LOL. You'll get the same response from Seagate when asking a question about the output of smartmon tools. Actually, that's wrong. They'll tell you to shut down the system and run a DOS pass-fail utility if you have concerns about drive health. Then they'll tell you the information you're looking at, or asking about, is proprietary, and they can't discuss it.

If it wasn't for the 5-year warranty, I'd be looking elsewhere.

Re:As someone that has been there (3, Insightful)

jridley (9305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376516)

If it wasn't for the 5-year warranty, I'd be looking elsewhere.

I decided to start ignoring the warranty on drives.

I mean honestly, if I have a drive fail, the LAST thing I'm worried about is whether I'll get my pissin' $70 back for a 250G drive. I want my DATA not a few bucks.

I recently had my first real, hard, unpredicted (no SMART warnings) failure EVER out of dozens of drives from every manufacturer, and it was a 4 month old Seagate SATA drive. HP sent me a replacement, I put it in last night, and after 4 hours use the SMART data reads 4 hours spin time and 54 hardware ECC hits. I have 5 year old Maxtors (with 1 year warranties) that don't have 54 ECC hits.

I don't care if they have a 100 year warranty; I don't care if they're giving them away for free; I'm not going to use drives I can't trust.

I'm not buying any more Seagate for a while. Maxtor either since Seagate bought them. I think I'll buy WD for a while; I just picked up 2 of them and they're spinning nicely and behaving.

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376846)

How the heck is the reporting from S.M.A.R.T,, an open standard, proprietary? You should present that question to them.

Re:As someone that has been there (2, Informative)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375054)

In the case of Ralink, at least, you don't even need to pay any more. They're in some of the least expensive wifi gear on the market.

Re:As someone that has been there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375128)

a few bucks more isn't the issue i have with amtel chipsets, the issue i have is that they are complete shit. And thats the real concern, all the good hardware linux can't have. Sure, peole will make shitty halfassed hardware that will work in linux, that cost more, ... fat lot of good that does anyone.

What bullocks! (1)

ButteBlues (1032124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374114)

I've spent the last 3 hours using nasty work-arounds to get rt73 driver working on linux. Still no go.

Re:What bullocks! (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374254)

Want some help?

One of the different things about the drivers for newer Ralink hardware is that they require firmware files. Did you know about this?

Re:What bullocks! (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374280)

Oddly enough, it compiled for me on Ubuntu Edgy. He's on Feisty with the same kernel I've got, I sent him my made folder, and he couldn't get it to make install, and gets odd errors if he tries to make it. I'm wondering wtf the problem is (have been trying to help him via gaim).

Re:What bullocks! (2, Interesting)

GrizlyAdams (999280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374940)

I have compiled the latest rt73 drivers on Edgy and had mixed results as well. There is one nightly that I got working great with a vanilla 2.6.19 kernel: rt73-cvs-2006120917. The current CVS HEAD should work too, it appears they just reversed a kthreads patch between what I have and HEAD.
Main issues I've had were with VIA EHCI usb 2.0 host controller crashing Linux when I tried to use the adapter on my router. I use the Belkin F5D7050 v2000 on my desktop machine in Windows, Linux, and MacOSX. Interestingly enough the Linux and MacOSXdrivers are way better than the windows drivers. In windows 80% of the time I have to "Repair" the adapter, which basically disables & re-enables the drivers. Then 10% of that I have to do it 2 or more times to get it to finally work. Otherwise it can see my network but won't associate. In Linux, 100% of the time it just works. In MacOSX, a generic apple compound device driver wants to take over the adapter before the rt73 driver loads, so I've had to use another driver that grabs the rt73 before apples driver loads, and releases it to the real rt73 driver once its loaded.
Usually within 15-25 seconds of boot the adapter is associated.

Re:What bullocks! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375146)

I've spent the last 3 hours using nasty work-arounds to get rt73 driver working on linux. Still no go.
I've had no problems getting wireless to work on my Mac. I pulled it out of the box, it found my 802.11g network and asked for the WPA passphrase and I was online. You guys should stop beating yourselves up by using the wrong tool for the job. MacOS X is an awesome desktop computer OS and Linux is for servers.

The companies (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374116)

The two companies are Ralink and Amtel.

RaLink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374420)

$ lspci | grep "Network"
00:14.0 Network controller: RaLink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI

Hey look at that, what a coincidence...

PS. Last time I checked (which was a while ago admittedly), it was hell to set up. There are drivers from the manufacturer, and there's a project [serialmonkey.com] to write open drivers, with at least two different series of drivers with no clear directions on which to use or how to set everything up in userspace. I haven't even bothered getting it up and running. So I'm lazy, big deal.

Re:RaLink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374550)

Went back and got it working (for working == "Hey, I can ping the ra0 interface!"). I'm still not clear on the interaction between the configuration file and the cmdline stuff -- you're asked to setup a weird /etc/Wireless/RT61STA/rt61sta.dat file which contains configuration data (but is a 'binary') but you ALSO need to manually invoke iwpriv and pass SSID and WPAPK (the exact invocation is in ./rt61-cvs-$DATE/Module/iwpriv_usage.txt)

Re:The companies (2, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374784)

"The two companies are Ralink and Amtel."

Apparently Realtek deserves an honorary mention, since TFA says "Realtek has reportedly been responsive to requests for hardware documentation without requiring a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)" - the only difference from the wording for Ralink and Amtel is the addition of 'reportedly'. Oddly TFA doesn't explain the difference, but perhaps they just had less information about Realtek's relationships with OSS developers. Anyhow from the interview with the Realtek spokesperson they seem as OSS-friendly as the other two.

Re:The companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17376292)

The lesson is to put your money where your mouth is. That simple.
What would make it even easier is if we were to have a web-site based "clearing-house" of sorts, that lists specific hardware companies and products and lists exactly the kind of support one can expect under FOSS Operating Systems. Such as "fully capable with OSS driver", "fully capable with binary driver", "partially capable with OSS driver", "currently not supported" and so on. That would make it easy for people to purchase the kind of hardware we want to see in machines...hardware that's actually useable.

Just one bit of advice (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374142)

I was trying to get an [unnamed] card working.
I spent days looking for drivers for this card.
There were many comments negative about this card
and it's drivers. I was mostly attempting to use
"ndiswrapper" with a variety of versions of drivers
for this card and chipsets.

Hint: Turn OFF the security on the network.
Test just the card. Not the boneheaded typo in the pass-phrase.

Re:Just one bit of advice (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376018)

I was trying to get an [unnamed] thing working (one from a family of things that I dont understand). I spent days looking for a solution for this problem. There were many comments negative about this thing and it's sub thing. I was mostly attempting to use "workaround" with a variety of workarounds, all the while not understanding any of them.

Hint: Test your solution against itself Just the net-new component. Just yourself. Not the integration with your complex environment.

Words to live by.

Of all the things (3, Informative)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374152)

Of all the reasons given on this site for the dominance of Microsoft over the mainstream OS market. I think lack of drivers is the main cause. You know your hardware is going to work with Microsoft. If other OS's were able to use drivers written for windows I think you might actually see some competition. Right now companies write drivers for Windows, and maybe Mac Linux if they think its worth it. Its a catch 22, no one writes drivers for an OS with a relatively small number of users, and people don't like not being able to easily use their hardware on an unsupported OS.

Re:Of all the things (2, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374268)

i agree to an extent, in that anything you buy will come with divers for windows. i've had some shocking experiences with windows drivers however.

Re:Of all the things (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374300)

I'm not saying Windows drivers cant be a nightmare. Far from it. Can you even use Windows 95 drivers on Vista? Come to think about it, maybe people don't expect their old hardware to be supported by the new windows version. But at least you don't need to compile them before they don't work.

Re:Of all the things (1)

psxman (925240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374294)

NdisWrapper [wikipedia.org] is what you're looking for. It's mostly used for wireless cards, but I think it works for other drivers, too.

Re:Of all the things (5, Informative)

infinityxi (266865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374296)

No, lack of drivers is a product of Microsoft's dominance. Vendors didn't inherently go with Microsoft because they were Microsoft (Before they started being used on every desktop). Microsoft is now the dominant OS therefore vendors will release drivers especially for windows. Ever look at an AMD chip in the plastic? It says Designed for XP, same for 90% of the graphics cards made for PCs today. I think that the only way to have a level playing field with the drivers are for the vendors to open the code of the driver (NOT the firmware as some douchebags will want you to think) and/or give out some clear or semi-clear documentation on how the computer should interact with the device. OpenBSD has made leaps and bounds on doing this and stay committed. In fact they have excellent wireless support, especially since they love to be technically correct with code/security etc. Open source operating systems lack the back door business deals that make this easier to accomplish but it is a hell of a lot better than it was back in 1999. Win-modems anyone?

Re:Of all the things (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374398)

If they were forced to release the format of their drivers, then the other OSes would be on a level playing field hardware wise. Microsoft uses their dominance to dictate what functions drivers implement among other things. They're controlling the direction of the hardware market with their requirements to have your driver "certified" You never hear drivers mentioned in the monopoly cases. Documentation to write your own drivers would be nice, but your talking months before a driver can be written.

Re:Of all the things (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377400)

.... Right now companies write drivers for Windows, and maybe Mac Linux if they think its worth it. Its a catch 22, no one writes drivers for an OS with a relatively small number of users, and people don't like not being able to easily use their hardware on an unsupported OS.

Actually this is not true for most chip sets. Lets take Broadcom wireless chips for example, they did produce a "reference" design long before cards are mass produced for Windows. There reference designs use Linux. Thus Linux drivers existed BEFORE Windows drivers. Virtually all the Linksys, Netgear, D-Link and others that produce wireless internet firewalls all run Linux on the same chip sets, Linux inside and did so before Windows had drivers.

Hardware vendors don't really want to write drivers and source the software. They do so only because they have to. Their business is manufacturing and distribution of the hardware. But they do do reference designs and use Linux because of it's ease in development and troubleshooting. Microsoft will take the source and "port" it later to Windows.

So along comes the Microsoft - they say off the record support for your hardware with the OS will be slowed down if you open source your drivers for Linux or BSD.

So the vendors keep their licenses restrictive to hope they get Microsoft OS support and don't need to worry about drivers. In open source, give them the reference source and documents, it will be ported and cleaned up in the next distro at no cost to the vendor. But the reason they don't do it is because we are in a anti-competitive market.

It is also why I refuse to buy Broadcom and Linksys -- I know the drivers exist but they are not playing fair. I always only buy open source friendly parts as I know someday, even if it runs XP today it will run Linux/Solaris or BSD. Often I dual boot them.

This is why my wireless card is by Sitecom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374166)

No problems with Ralink's driver.

The view from the other side of the fence (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374172)

My company develops embedded devices and computer peripherals.

An employee suggested to me that we open-source our drivers for a few offices here as an evaluation. I was skeptical at first but he explained the benefits of OSS instead of closed-source. So I decided to let him open source 2 drivers to see how the linux coders got on. Besides, our IT manager had been using OSS in his PC and it seemed to work fine, why not try it with our drivers?

Once he'd got the hardware up and running with the new drivers we let the users try it out. It all seemed fine to start with: OSS was a pretty good replacement for telling users we didn't support Linux, and our developers could still do their work as normal.

Alas it did not stay that way. After a few days, I had lost count of the number of complaints received. Developers could not do things they were used to (like leave comments about errata) or tasks they could not perform that they previously could with closed source, such as enable hidden features as selling points. The constant harrasment by the Linux zealots became more of a day job than my own. The final straw came when one employee lost several hours work when the kernel suddenly exploded and corrupted his software.

Needless to say, the Linux team offered no support whatsoever. I made the employee remove Linux from the offices and lets just say he's not with us anymore.

Re:The view from the other side of the fence (3, Informative)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374308)

I don't want to be the one to start on this first, and I'm not sure whether you gave all the details and you didn't really give a clear narrative of what actually happened ....but

From what I gather it sounds like you didn't give it at all enough of a chance to work. A few days? That's nothing. There are logistical problems with open sourcing your software, just as there might be with any transition. It takes a little bit of work and time to actually make sure the cooperation with the open source community is fruitful.

You shouldn't have fired someone for merely suggesting something to you. Didn't you make that decision?

Of course, if he was in charge of the transition and let it fail that's another story. If this is the case, then don't blame open source for your employee's failures.

Re:The view from the other side of the fence (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374552)

Just a quick heads-up, monoqlith - this is a pretty common copy-and-paste troll, with the first few instances of "Linux" replaced with "OSS". Just kick it back under its bridge and get on with your morning.

Re:The view from the other side of the fence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374492)

The above poster is, simply, lying. The events described did not happen at all, anywhere, anytime.

Re:The view from the other side of the fence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374636)

And there was much chair throwing in the house of Ballmer that day, I can tell you.

Houston Buttrapist == Slashdot User (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374174)


 

I know what IBM will do. I don't know why. (4, Interesting)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374192)

If you want (say) a disk controller subsystem from IBM, then IBM will generelly supply the adapter microcode as 'Object Code Only, All Rights Reserved'; and the device driver as open-source.

I don't know about redistribution rights; you can always ask.

If an open-source developer wants to see the source for the adapter microcode, ask about that one too.

gooooood luck with that (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374234)

considering the last laptop I tried to help set up did not have a valid driver in existence for its built in wireless receiver, I feel sorry for anyone trying to get an even less common one. Driver writing is just a whole bucket of fun too with most companies' cards, lol.

What about Intel? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374290)

Intel GPL'd its integrated graphics drivers recently; wouldn't you think it would release the code or specifications for the wireless chips used in its "Centrino" stuff too?

Re:What about Intel? (0, Troll)

postmortem (906676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374414)

I think there are still some binaries used in intel's driver. There's 'regulatory daemon' and 'firmware' for intel 3945ABG cards,and both are required for WiFi card to work. At least firmware is not open source.

Putting everything as open source hurts companies, because competition gets free reverse engineered sample. And more and more of these devices relies on software side, not on the hardware. Why would they hurt themselves and release source code for minor market?

Re:What about Intel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374914)

Bullshit.

Intel does not release its ipw3945-daemon under a free license because of limitations imposed on R/F-enabled devices by the FCC in the US, and hardware manufacturers do not want to implement those restrictions at the hardware level. This "free reverse engineering"-"argument" (mind the quotes) is just ridiculous. There's no real reason for drivers to be "closed" (except legal ones, because of a totally fucked-up patent system, of course) if you are selling the hardware.

Re:What about Intel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375056)

'Bullshit.
There's no real reason for drivers to be "closed" (except legal ones, because of a totally fucked-up patent system, of course) if you are selling the hardware.'

Bullshit there is on very valid reason that was given in the so called TROLL...
You make one and only one product with plenty of features, but disable some in the driver because it is way cheaper to do it there than in the fab...
yeah there's nothing free in free....

Re:What about Intel? (2, Informative)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375416)

No.

Two reasons basically - Intel (and coincidentally Broadcom and Marvell) do make the more functional and high performing network chips in the industry, and they are really not that stoked about releasing driver and firmware source code which exposes the inner workings of these chipsets and IP cores.

It must be said that there is no choice on running an Intel graphics adapter if that is what is built into your device and there is no further expansion. A laptop for instance. This makes it "important" to Intel to eventually make their products more friendly in the open source world. However on a PC which has an integrated ethernet like Marvell Yukon or so, there is plenty of choice; plug in an ethernet expansion card or wireless adapter that DOES work, and you can still do what you wanted to do, even if you spent $4.50 extra on the motherboard for the privilege of said chipset in the first place.

Intel are (as in the article) working on such stuff, but Marvell and Broadcom do seem to outsource their driver writing sometimes and there are some legal hurdles on the original code, such that they cannot release anything. Intel have spent a couple of YEARS working on their open sourcing efforts. Companies like IBM release their firmware and so on after incredible, incredible delays (SLOF for the JS20 is a good example.. they released the Forth part and then 6 months later an open binary for the JS20 boot portion so you could change the IMPORTANT parts of it) so that the code they release is about as far from relevant as it can be, although this is mostly a function of doing it right, sometimes it is also a function of doing it in a way that does not kick sand in the face of another, in-house proprietary offering (for instance, if they did not want a free Linux to run on hardware they intended to sell a proprietary UNIX on as the prefered OS)

The other reason is especially for regulations on wireless frequencies. If Intel let anyone program their controller to operate on channel 13, THEY are responsible for the operation and illegal use of those frequencies in countries where they are not public access. While the guy running his laptop and WLAN on channel 13 will get the fine from the FCC in the US for example, the FCC or CE regulatory bodies may then turn around and refuse to certify their future hardware that so easily breaks their specification (part of the certification process is an assurance that it does not interfere with bands that are regulated). That would be bad as you simply can't sell equipment that generates RF without FCC or CE approval.

Re:What about Intel? (1)

rhavenn (97211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375872)

Two reasons basically - Intel (and coincidentally Broadcom and Marvell) do make the more functional and high performing network chips in the industry, and they are really not that stoked about releasing driver and firmware source code which exposes the inner workings of these chipsets and IP cores.

Yeah, but that's the whole point. They don't NEED to release the firmware open-source. The firmware is on the chip and can stay there. The only thing the community needs is the documentation and API hooks to talk to the firmware. Open-sourcing the actual driver is nice, but not even necessary. Just give us the correct documentation to talk to the thing and/or it's firmware.

Re:What about Intel? (1)

AYeomans (322504) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377012)

But when the laptop moves to another country, it needs to use a different set of frequencies. So the user ought to demand access to the software programming so they can set the country they currently are in.

And this is not just nice-to-have. While 802.11b/g at least has 11 channels in common through most of the world, 802.11a uses completely different channel frequencies in US and Europe (and elsewhere, I think). So if you can't set the country, your device won't work.

Who's afraid of NDAs? (1, Interesting)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374342)

Sign it, get the necessary information to write the driver, and be done with it. Where's the problem here?

Re:Who's afraid of NDAs? (1)

textstring (924171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374436)

Well I'd guess you'd actually have to read the NDA and abide by it. If, for example, the NDA says you can't do whatever the fuck you like with the info they supply (like open source the drivers you wrote) then you'd better hire a lawyer.

Re:Who's afraid of NDAs? (1)

kae_verens (523642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374454)

Open Source, by definition, discloses its source, which is directly in disagreement with an NDA.

Re:Who's afraid of NDAs? (2, Insightful)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374608)

So then don't open source it. nVidia does that for their drivers.

So, it's really a case not of these companies not cooperating to allow drivers to be written, it's these companies not cooperating in a manner that suits the OSS software writers - which is a bit different.

Re:Who's afraid of NDAs? (1)

kerohazel (913211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374642)

I don't understand why parent got modded Trollish.

It's a legitimate stance. Not ideal, but given the choice between closed source drivers and none at all (a choice any Linux user makes when using 3D graphics acceleration), I'd take the former.

By all means, disagree with the opinion. But this is in no way a troll comment.

Re:Who's afraid of NDAs? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375564)

given the choice between closed source drivers and none at all (a choice any Linux user makes when using 3D graphics acceleration)

I'm using Radeon 9000 with open drivers. It does everything I need. I'm not a gamer, but supertux runs at about 80 FPS which seems plenty for my needs. All video plays fine. glxgears runs at about 1400 FPS, but I don't use glxgears for anything :)

I know it's not the latest and greatest , but the r300 driver [sourceforge.net] apparently has "works well, no lockups" support for Radeon 9600 and radeon X800. Sure, there are many cards and late model cards not supported, but that doesn't amount to closed source drivers or none for all linux users with 3D graphics acceleration.

So just use the Windows drivers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374356)

Do what OS/2 does and just write the wrapper around it and use the existing Windows drivers.
(BTW, didn't OS/2 grab that project from Linux anyways?)

Why re-invent the wheel especially when some of them aren't keen for you to do so?

The good list (5, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374372)

According to the article, there are three companies that have actually worked with the free software community on drivers. Here is the list:

Ralink Technology [ralinktech.com]

Atmel Corporation [atmel.com]

Realtek [realtek.com.tw] Linux drivers here [sourceforge.net]

Vote with your money, folks. If you would like to see companies cooperate with the free software community, reward the companies that do so by buying their products.

If you know of a particular piece of WiFi hardware that works particularly well in Linux or BSD, please follow up here so we all know what to buy. (See also this list [seattlewireless.net].)

steveha

Re:The good list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374460)

(speaking purely of networking stuff here) I've been voting with my money for years now. I'm not very familiar with many of the companies listed, but I have faith in realtek. As long as I can remember, everything I've owned with a realtek chipset has worked out of box. I'll have a look at a card in the store, and if I see a realtek chip, I'll buy it on faith that it'll work. If I don't.... I'll skip it and do some research first (or find a store selling cards with a realtek chipset)

What about Intel? (0)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374612)

I don't get it - Intel has a well-supported, open-source project that they've sponsored for their chipsets - when I recently bought a Dell laptop, I purposefully bought it with the Intel 3945d chipset, and used the RPMs found at their SourceForge project site [sf.net] to get it working on Fedora Core 6.

Why aren't they getting credit for this?

Re:What about Intel? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374670)

You might try actually reading TFA.

Intel

Intel punted me to different people a few times, then after a short delay and a bizarre inquisition into my professional background and "intentions" in writing this article, told me that the company had nothing to say on the matter of wireless firmware distribution rights and interface documentation. Considering Intel's outstanding PR record and its general willingness to provide hardware documentation for the PCI chipsets and drive controllers that it makes, this behavior is unusual.

Re:What about Intel? (3, Informative)

vally_manea (911530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374710)

The main problem with Intel wireless drivers is the binary firmware needed to use the device. The open source driver is nothing more than a link between the kernel and the binary blob. The main issue with Intel is however the restrictive distribution rights of the firmware in question.

Re:The good list (2, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374802)

``Vote with your money, folks. If you would like to see companies cooperate with the free software community, reward the companies that do so by buying their products.''

Problem is, I don't get to decide what wireless chipsets get integrated in products. I sort of have a choice when it comes to USB adapters, but whole laptops?

Re:The good list (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375060)

Problem is, I don't get to decide what wireless chipsets get integrated in products. I sort of have a choice when it comes to USB adapters, but whole laptops?

Granted laptops tend to be decided on by the make or model, but you can custom order laptops, unless you bought a Dell, in which case you can't be sure of what's inside until you open it up. A Thinkpad ordered with an Atheros instead of the usual Intel seems to be a popular enough choice these days.

Re:The good list (2, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375088)

You can still decide not to buy the laptop that won't work, in favour of the one that will.

Re:The good list (2, Informative)

rsidd (6328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375346)

Problem is, I don't get to decide what wireless chipsets get integrated in products. I sort of have a choice when it comes to USB adapters, but whole laptops?

Precisely. Even with the PCMCIA adapters I bought recently, there is no possible way to tell the chipset from the packaging. You can't even look up the product number -- they use the same darn number like WG-511 and the same packaging but change the chipset inside. As luck would have it, one had a Ralink and works with linux; the other had Marvell and I'm forced to use ndiswrapper.

Re:The good list (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375556)

I would love to. but Dell, HP and OTher laptop makers will not let me SPECIFY the chipsets in the wireless card in my laptop.

They all go with the lowest cost gutter crap.... Broadcom.

Last round of laptops we had to buy all new wifi cards. we went with atheros as they at least work 100% under linux and windows. so I buy laptops, broadcom sells a bunch of wifif cards, I remove them and install the new cards.

I was not allowed to vote with my $$$ or feet. I was forced to buy the crap and then fix the crap just like we have to do with the hard drives in the laptops... replace the fujitsu garbage with some fast segates that use less power, run faster and cooler plus far lower rate of failure.

If someone can find a major laptop maker that will allow ala-carte parts specifications AND sell the extended service plan I'm all over it. Until then we buy dell and then swap out parts for good parts and swap them back for service calls or warrenty work.

Re:The good list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17376000)

All of that is great, and it is chip-level implementations that matter, but does anybody have a good source for a chip->brandname wireless card mapping? For example, if I'm shopping for a PCMCIA wireless card, which brands/model numbers have Ralink / Amtel / Realtek? Same for integrated wireless in laptops?

Re:The good list (1)

justinchudgar (922219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376308)

I just went to RaLink's site; and, I'd buy a RT2800P based PCI NIC to test. The only problem is, I cannot find who retails these devices. It is hard to support these companies when it seems that noone will link to actual purchaseable products. Even google fails to come up with a vendor when searching for RT2800P.

When I go to some of the non-cooperative OEM sites, they provide links to retailers. And, I can find tons of stuff on newegg.com with the closed firmware hardware; but, nothing with open firmware.

Can someone point me to a US retailer that sells the products that this article suggests, please?

Waiting for Linksys.... (2, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374462)

I'm still waiting for Linksys to post an updated driver (without the buffer-overflow vulnerability) for a PC-card WiFi adapter I inherited (wouldn't have bought it myself, I'm pretty particular about Linux compatibility).

In the meantime I tried to use the open-source Linux driver [berlios.de] from Berlios but it's not quite there yet, at least for the BCM4318. Can't complain, tho, wouldn't want to be in their shoes considering that Broadcom is totally uncooperative, from what I've heard.

Re:Waiting for Linksys.... (1)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374532)

I don't have a bcm4318, but you do know that the bcm43xx driver has been merged into the stock linux kernel? Maybe you can upgrade the kernel rather than just the card.

I don't know if the in-kernel driver is any newer/better than the version on the berlios site these days, but it's certainly working for me...

Re:Waiting for Linksys.... (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375404)

I don't have a bcm4318, but you do know that the bcm43xx driver has been merged into the stock linux kernel? Maybe you can upgrade the kernel rather than just the card.

I don't know if the in-kernel driver is any newer/better than the version on the berlios site these days, but it's certainly working for me...


I tried it on my Gentoo box but I kept getting errors when trying to get an IP address that I went back to ndiswrapper. One of these days when I get around to it, I may try again.

Re:Waiting for Linksys.... (1)

MLease (652529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375972)

The BCM4318 in particular doesn't seem to play well with others. The only way I was able to get it to work consistently was to use ndiswrapper. The native support in Fedora Core 5, at least, didn't help; the closest I ever came was to get it to work for 15-20 min. at a time before it would drop out and require a reboot to bring it back up. I spent many hours searching for a native solution before giving up; I've just resigned myself to rebuilding ndiswrapper every time I update my kernel. I'm hoping that one of these days, the native support will work, but I'm not holding my breath.

-Mike

Intel (1)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374594)

Intel has drivers (IPW2200, others also) and firmware for Fedora and they work out of the box (has at least for me) but I know that there has been some problems for people getting them installed correctly.

Alien Tech (2, Funny)

ArtfulDodger75 (943980) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374628)

They don't want people to figure out that wireless network technology was actually discovered amongst the wreckage of the Roswell alien spaceship crash. If the open source developers are allowed to dig too deep, they'll discover the dilithium crystal in the heart of every wireless NIC!!!

Is the FCC the cause? (2, Interesting)

nukem996 (624036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374770)

I remember reading awhile back that the reason that Intel had to have closed source firmware for their wireless drivers was because they said the FCC mandated that there was no way anyone could get the power output of their wireless cards. Does anyone know if this is true? If it does shouldn't we be pestering the FCC and not the companies since all they are dong is following the FCC's rules?

Re:Is the FCC the cause? (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375070)

I don't know whether this is true or not, about the FCC, but if it were - how could some vendors give OSS drivers, and some not?

Re:Is the FCC the cause? (1)

Gnavpot (708731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375134)

I don't know whether this is true or not, about the FCC, but if it were - how could some vendors give OSS drivers, and some not?

They way I heard it, it was not the power output, but the frequency. Some wireless cards are apparently able to transmit on a wide range of frequencies, of which only some are allowed. If you have an open source driver for these cards, you can modify it so they use non-allowed frequencies.

So one possible answer to your question could be that not all cards have hardware support for non-allowed frequencies. Another possible answer could be that not all vendors agree on the interpretation of the requirements.

Re:Is the FCC the cause? (3, Interesting)

doj8 (542402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376598)

> Another possible answer could be that not all vendors agree
> on the interpretation of the requirements.

Likely this is true.

In the case of IBM (now Lenovo), their laptops will not boot with a non-IBM-certified wireless mini-PCI card in the system. Their interpretation of the FCC regulations is that the complete laptop, with wireless card, is FCC-certified. Installing a different wireless card, even though it is a standard component, even from IBM itself, and has been FCC-certified by itself, in IBM's opinion, makes the entire laptop no longer certified. Therefore, they must prevent the now non-certified laptop from working so as to meet FCC compliance.

It is a singular interpretation of the rules, as far as I know. There is a simple third-party fix to poke a byte to disable the check, so it can be worked around, but is still aggravating.

While a bit off-topic to wireless drivers, this example shows that the rules are subject to such extreme interpretation. I can easily see the legal department of Intel, et al, deciding some rule would break FCC compliance and thus preventing open sourcing the driver or even making the specifications available.

Re:Is the FCC the cause? (1)

Arker (91948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375114)

No, this is not true. The FCC regulations in question apply to the operators of the devices, not the manufacturers. Look at all the wireless devices that *do* have free drivers - they aren't illegal. If you edit the driver code to do something illegal with them, of course, you could get in trouble for that.

Re:Is the FCC the cause? (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375224)

Currently the FCC does not rule the world. Their regulations do not apply in Europe, and presumably OSS developers in Europe could get the data if that was the issue.

The traditional explanation is one or both of

Their hardware is as shoddy as hell and they dont want anyone to know

Their own drivers are bug infested and they dont want anyone to know

I have been using Realtek on FreeBSD and its dead cheap and completely problem free. I recommend Realtek to anyone!

Disclaimer: I am a radio engineer and have no connection with Realtek other than as a satisfied customer.

Suggested Solution (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17374796)

Openly promote hardware companies that have fully functioning PCI, PCMCIA, and USB wifi cards in Linux. I will gladly spend my money with them regardless of wether I'm purchasing the hardware for myself or a friend, or for a Windows machine or a Linux machine. In the same way that HP printers almost always "just work" and Creative sounds almost always "just work", and I seek those brands out... I am willing to, and would do the same for other types of hardware. Of course for now, my purchasing quantities are quite small. But who's to say that they won't grow at some later point.

Re:Suggested Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375686)

The info is already out there. Look at the OpenBSD manual pages or supported hardware lists for example.

Re:Suggested Solution (3, Informative)

the Hewster (734122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375922)

Creative sound cards don't "just work". Their latest X-Fi cards are unsupported and will probably not have open drivers (or even closed ones) for a long while

madwifi info is wrong (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17374908)

The madwifi team is going to use the openhal code, since it's the only code that can be included in the linux kernel. I am already using openhal for the wireless cards in my linux routers.

There's more needed than just documentation (4, Interesting)

Freggy (825249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375018)

Still I have the impression that lack of manufacturer willingness to publish documentation, is abused all too often to explain that there are no drivers for Linux, while the reality shows some other interesting facts. Here are some of my experiences I had with wireless in Linux:
  • First I bought a card based on fullmac prism54 chipset. It was known as one of the best supported chipsets in Linux, at the time the only 802.11g driver included in Linux kernel IIRC. It worked fine for basic operation yes, but it did not seem to support WPA. Prism54 development seems to be halted completely already for some time. People are developing the islsm driver which would also support freemac cards, but this is far from usable at the moment.
  • Intel Centrino ipw2200: had this in my laptop. Just installing firmware (which was as easy as adding PLF repository to my Mandriva system and running urpmi ipw2200-firmware) and it worked perfectly, WPA included!
  • Ralink rt2500 based PC card: I bought this again because I knew the manufacturer published documentation. Well, actually there are two drivers. The legacy driver, which should be somewhat stable, but which you cannot use when using multi-processor (dual core, etc), and the new driver which is beta and still unstable. Well, I tried both, but did not succeed in getting my wireless network to work.
  • Broadcom 43xx based PC card: was known at the time as one of the worst chipsets for Linux, because Broadcom was unwilling to publish documentation. Still bought it, because a new reverse engineering project started at that time. Today with kernel 2.6.19, this driver is included in Linux. And it works very good, WPA included. Yes, I had to install firmware by hand by means of bcm-fwcutter.
So I'm arriving at the bizarre conclusion that for me, the best working wireless chipsets, are these from the category of manufacturers that are not very willing to work together with community. Still, there's a free driver, with only the firmware being proprietary and not freely distributable. Other drivers which should be in the recommended category, failed for me. Some reflections:
  • Good Linux support depends of much more than just the manufacturer publishing documentation. There should be an active community of developers: if that is lacking, even with good documentation, support will remain problematic.
  • Even without documentation it is possible to create good drivers by means of reverse engineering. If a card is popular enough and the right people at the right time start reverse engineering, then this could be a big success.
  • The presence of a proprietary, non-free driver could harm development of a free driver. For example take a look at the nvidia driver. Since a year, there's a reverse-engineering project to create a free dri-driver for nvidia, but it's not advancing at all. I guess lack of developer interest, because there's already the proprietary driver. Also look at ipw2945 driver: OpenBSD proved it can work without the the Intel binary-only daemon, but for Linux, nobody cared to reverse engineer it.

The open source ralink drivers are fairly good. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375086)

I've picked up one of these cards for wardriving (I'm a complete noobie unfortunately)
These chaps have been pretty helpful and the drives (iirc) work out of the box for my rt2500 minipci under ubuntu 6.10
http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/wiki/index.php?titl e=Main_Page [serialmonkey.com]

I had an intel ipw220 but frankly as a noobie, with or without howto's it was nothing short of a fucking nightmare to get working with WPA under ubuntu from 5.04 to about 6.0 if I recall (and it's still not simple, out of the box yet)

I also have an orinoco gold I got from ebay, specifically for wardriving, comes with an external aerial - that thing is the business, just plug and go - good stuff, chipset, sorry - can't recall - I think it's atheros(?)

It's not just wireless cards (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375090)

We recently discussed this issue at the International Plan 9 Workshop [escet.urjc.es]. Lack of driver documentation and time/people to write drivers is what will probably eventually kill using Plan 9 on real hardware.

There was a time when documenting your hardware was required for anyone to buy it.

Even a source code leve driver is not enough when you're not Linux/BSD.

Imagine writing a driver when you only have a driver for another OS as your documentation!

It's just someone else's view of the documentation they saw / reverse engineering they did.

Been there (on the Corp. side) (4, Informative)

Wackston (80353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375180)

I've been there on the other side of a situation like this at a large European based semiconductor manufacturer.

Basically, the real 'motivation' for not supporting this kind of stuff is usually corporate inertia and bureaucracy. 99% of the time there is no IP really to protect. However, 'the system' slaps an NDA on everything by default and although field application engineers and tech. marketing are be assigned to the visible customers theres no-one officially tasked with supporting sales-via-FOSS. Result: even if there's goodwill (which is surprisingly often) nothing happens.

It is absolutely normal for the Intel's of this world to simultaenously pay people to evangelise and support FOSS whilst at the same time product-divisions stone-wall. There are simply other (internal) agendas at work than getting the product out. In short-hand: not related to this years' job objectives? No action! No bonus or visibility? Spare-time effort only.

I think it is noticeable that the businesses that responded effectively in the case of the Wireless drivers were the smaller, hungrier, more genuinely market/customer driven operations.
Fortunately, in the longer-term the Marvell's of this world do tend to rip the lazy corps. a new one even in more conventional customer relationships. The underlying culture of an organisation (genuinely customer driven or just talk) *will* show through. Alas it's a slow process...

Andrew

Open Source vs. Linux Compatible (1)

MBHkewl (807459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375198)

Open Source & Linux Compatibility are two different things.

I don't think WiFi companies will ever Open Source the drivers since this will allow *anyone* to change the chip's power and communication frequency; This ultimately allows *anyone* to listen on any frequency, including the military's.

On the other hand, companies willing to provide a Linux-compatible driver are most likely providing a binary file that is compatible with the chipset in question.

-> Any electronics guru could construct/re-construct a wireless circuit to match the frequency s/he wants. This sure limits the amount of kiddies lurking around...

Re:Open Source vs. Linux Compatible (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375250)

This is extremely silly: 'Anyone' can build their own hardware.

I know: I was that anyone.

IP snakes on a chip (1)

JumpingBull (551722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375286)

The real reason you cannot get driver information is that it isn't just one company you have to deal with. It's several, most of which have legal obligations in a deadlock situation.

You can't get there from here.

Patents are not the major problem, either. They have to be declared in the public space, and are therefore a licencing issue. The real problem, is that IP is such a vague and fuzzy term that using it is worthless.

RMS has correctly identified copyright, patents, and other legal instruments of author protection, each with their own rules as comprising separate realms in the fuzzy world of IP corporatespeak.

The real risk to a player in that market?
The proprietary information, once it has escaped is no longer deemed a comparative advantage. Once it is out, it is almost trivial to either reverse engineer, or improve upon, according to conventional wisdom. In fact, the entire folly of software patents is just an public extension of proprietary behaviour - but played out in the legal system.

The real value in a company is not the puff of the "owned" property - it is the web of persons that can turn out that design. Those sorts of teams are not built up overnight, although incompetent or foolish management can rip them up pretty fast.

Even the major vendors have to outsource things like driver development, microcode development, and even chip development. Usually because of time to market or personel limits. They don't own all the bits that make up a complete solution. They don't even have access to how the pieces are put together. And, almost to a man, they have signed legal agreements with each other to hide ...err... protect this information.

The entire area of systems on a chip (SOC) needed to take advantage of the reduced silicon geometry requires a huge investment on hardware design, either as verilog, VHDL, or other hardware description language. And it isn't just the hardware design, either, it's the test harnesses to see that the little bits of hardware actually play together.That alone is about half the total man weeks needed in development.

So, what was once a small problem for hardware manufacturers, now is a large problem. To make it worse, the hardware, being software, is now suffering the same scaling problems that the software world sees. I don't think there is an easy way out.

In the design flow, the chip manufacturer (who shall remain fab-less) can either licence chunks of the design from third parties, or use some of the captive designs from the silicon fabs (for some of the manufacturer dependent high speed analog stuff) or roll their own.
I think you can see why you cannot get any design information - someone else owns it.

I think an economist might have a nice time comparing the current cost of control to the case of using the GPL, as an example, and sharing.

Perhaps a mixed model, such as that used for USB might work, too.

Re:IP snakes on a chip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17376042)

Even the major vendors have to outsource things like driver development, microcode development, and even chip development.

The startup I work for manages to do all of this itself, with minor exceptions: the bus interface logic (which of course implements a standard interface), and some of the Linux driver development (licensed under GPL regardless of the copyright holder). Perhaps the majors let their hiring standards slip and/or bog their engineers down in bureaucracy so that they're no longer capable of doing a good job in-house. One of them will probably try to buy us eventually, at which point I expect the smartest people will leave.

Friendly Vendors (2, Informative)

RazzleDazzle (442937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375378)

Here [vendorwatch.org] are a couple [bluwiki.org] of websites with community based ratings/comments on vendor friendliness to FOSS. It might be worth it if you are a real believer of supporting FOSS to make purchases only from companies that are FOSS friendly, especially if you work for a company that is making large hardware purchases and you have any influence over what is to be purchased. And if they have or request a comment/questionaire make sure to note that vendor FOSS friendliness was a factor your decision making.

Wireless cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375492)

I see people messing around with NDISWrapper and all sorts of crap drivers, but why not simply replace your notebook's wireless mini-pci card with an opensource friendly Intel 2200 or 2915 Wireless adapter? I did this on my Sony R600 (Pentium III-M (not Pentium-M!)) and it works great, both in Linux and Windows. The card's cheep too, around 30 euro's.

Re:Wireless cards (1)

cortana (588495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376080)

Don't they require both a proprietary (non-redistributable, non-modifiable, no source code) firmware AND "regulatory compliance daemon"?

Wireless cards + Linux == Nightmare (2, Informative)

IMightB (533307) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376268)

I haven't got much experience in the world of wireless networking, but in my brief excursions into linux and wireless nics, the Intel stuff is the only one that works outta the box. ipw2xxx drivers are included in the FC kernels at least.

I, just yesterday, ordered a belkin wireless G nic specifically because it had a atheros chipset that is supported by madwifi for my MythTv setup at home. I am creating a dedicated htpc frontend because I'm impatient, I whipped out an old Linksys WUSB11 v2.8 USB nic that I had, and again revisited the berlios atmel project page, fully expecting it (like last time) to take a few days before I could even get the drivers to compile. I'm not sure whether it's because I've done it before, or whether the project has proceeded that much further, but I got it working in less than an hour, got bored and created some fc6 rpms for it. They're available here:

http://www.giotechnology.com/fc6 [giotechnology.com]

There's probably something wrong with them: ie the versioning scheme isn't FC standard, I could have included a hotplug config file, so you don't have to roll your own, etc etc. I'm willing to listen to feedback.
If someone would like to host them, let me know, they're currently on a dinky cable connection.

FYI myth users, wireless B will not cut it for watching video, Wireless G works, but I get the feeling that it is strained, so if your following my footsteps, you may want to look into one of the faster G protocols.

I'm waiting for the upstream G protocols to actually standardize before I go any higher in the Wireless spectrum. I dislike vendor lock in.

802.11 is a standard (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376904)

The arguments that Intel, Marvell, and Broadcomm make are very weak indeed. After all, 802.11 is a standard so the big 3 must ensure interoperatibility with other 802.11 products so the firmware really isn't really Intellectual Property per se. I cannot see how Intel, Marvell, or Broadcomm could loose by supporting the BSDs and Linux. If anything, it stands to reason that by opening their products to more platforms, they reach a broader audience thereby increasing sales potential. This is only speculation, but I wonder if Microsoft has some hand in this. This may just be another angle of attack in Microsoft's bid to slow adoption of open source operating systems. With the ever increasing use of wireless networks, it stands to reason that if an operating system lacks good support for wireless networking capability it will not be considered for use. Maybe I am a conspiracy theorist, but this one does not seem to far fetched. After all, Microsoft had a hand in killing Netscape. Just something to think about.
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