Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th Dec 2005 20:25 UTC, submitted by Maxi
Linux "Over two years ago a group was founded to reverse engineer the Broadcom Wireless LAN chipsets to provide Linux drivers. This chipset is used by many OEMs, for example in Apple's AirPort Extreme in Power- and iBooks, Linksys' WAP and WRT series of consumer grade wireless routers, various laptops from Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP and others and many more external and internal devices, including CardBus cards. That work has now come (.pdf) to a first milestone as there now is a free (GPL2 or later) Linux driver for a variety of these chipsets."
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Nice work
by Chezz on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:21 UTC
Chezz
Member since:
2005-07-11

This will benefit so many open source projects who are struggling to support Broadcom chipsets. I am waiting for FreeBSD and OpenBSD to adopt this.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Nice work
by DevL on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:55 UTC in reply to "Nice work"
DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, due to license issues, the BSD folks will have to reverse engineer the reversed engineered driver but at least they got some source code to take a peek at (which may or may not count as a derivate work depending on how strict you see things). Nut agreed, I can't wait to see them get these chips to work. A lot of Powerbook users that insist on replacing Mac OS X with Linux (or BSD) will be very glad to hear this.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Nice work
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 01:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice work"
Anonymous Member since:
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Well, due to license issues, the BSD folks will have to reverse engineer the reversed engineered driver

Uh? They won't need to reverse engineer the Linux driver at all, seeing as the source is available. All they will need to do is re-implement the functionality using the Linux driver source as an example.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Nice work
by DevL on Tue 6th Dec 2005 03:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nice work"
DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, call it poor wording on my part, but that is actually waht I meant.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Nice work
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 03:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nice work"
Anonymous Member since:
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Uh? They won't need to reverse engineer the Linux driver at all, seeing as the source is available. All they will need to do is re-implement the functionality using the Linux driver source as an example.

Its highly dependent on what licence the code is under. If they are not satisfied, then they'll re-write their version based finding how the Linux works. (and re-release under BSD license and clean up the code).

This is what they've done with the Ralink RT2500 series chipset.

Since this Broadcom reversed engineered driver is under GPL, expect another year (or two) until BSDs get a stable driver under BSD license.

Its a bit late for me, as I use a pair of WRT54G routers with a third-party firmware to fulfill my wireless requirements.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Nice work
by anda_skoa on Tue 6th Dec 2005 11:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice work"
anda_skoa Member since:
2005-07-07

Well, due to license issues, the BSD folks will have to reverse engineer the reversed engineered driver

No, they will just use the reverse engineer specification that the GPL driver developers used as well.

Those that do the reverse engineering do not write the driver but a paper others can use to write one.

This makes sure the driver developers do not have knowledge about the closed source driver's internals.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Nice work
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 17:30 UTC in reply to "Nice work"
Anonymous Member since:
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You realise that you know nothing right? BSDs don't "adopt" GPL code into their kernel.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Nice work
by Chezz on Wed 7th Dec 2005 08:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice work"
Chezz Member since:
2005-07-11

I know that BSDs dont adopt GPLed code. But like DevL said now BSDs have the source code to look at which can give them a good insight to reverse engineer it.

Reply Score: 1

Holy Crap!
by Tom K on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:25 UTC
Tom K
Member since:
2005-07-06

Holy crap! This is huge.

I (and many others) have been waiting for such a driver for at least 2-3 years now! The Linksys router 3rd-party-firmware groups will have a hell of a good time with this now that they're not limited to using the Broadcom-provided binary module. :-)

Edited 2005-12-05 21:26

Reply Score: 2

GR8!!
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:36 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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I've got a shiny Powerbook, and the only thing to keep me tied to OSX (as nice as it is, it's still not free and doesn't have the gazillions of applications that Debian/ Ubuntu/ whateverGNULinuxDistroYouLike) is Airport Extreme support...

..and now...

wow!!! Do you know if there are instructions anywhere?

GR

Reply Score: 2

RE: GR8!!
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:59 UTC in reply to "GR8!!"
Anonymous Member since:
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Indeed a plus for PPC Linux. I always thought this was a disencentive to buying a 12" Apple notebook. [Which is not to say it's not great news for those with x86 hardware but generally there are alternatives with other wireless chipsets] Perhaps I'll pick up a late model iBook after the intel switch - after prices have gone through the floor.

Most probably Apple's next gen will be based on the centrino chipset for which intel already has a linux driver.

Reply Score: 0

RE: GR8!!
by DevL on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:56 UTC in reply to "GR8!!"
DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

You might want to try Darwinports and/or Fink. It kind of diminishes the "gazzillions of applications" argument quite a bit...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: GR8!!
by drLog on Tue 6th Dec 2005 01:09 UTC in reply to "RE: GR8!!"
drLog Member since:
2005-07-11

While that does help a lot, it's still not quite there.

I have 2 desktops running gentoo and an iBook. The ONLY reason I dont use linux on the iBook (I would probably go with ubuntu on it) is because of the wireless driver problem. If this gets fixed in the next ubuntu, WOHOO!

Reply Score: 1

I sure hope this was legal...
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:43 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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No, I'm not a stickler for stupid patent laws and stuff that hamper the progress of human society. I AM worried about Apple getting all sue-happy and a bunch of good FOSS programmers getting up to their necks in fines...

Reply Score: 2

RE: I sure hope this was legal...
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 22:03 UTC in reply to "I sure hope this was legal..."
Anonymous Member since:
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Don't worry - the necessary information was not stolen but reverse engineered. There is a HUGE legal difference. Hopefully Broadcom will learn a lesson from this and finally provide open source drivers for their products.

Reply Score: 5

DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

Besides, Apple aren't the one to do any suing, Broadcom would be the one (IF they even had a case, which they don't).

Reply Score: 1

Anonymous Member since:
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oh dont worry apple will find a way to get involved, they love sueing and bullying people

Reply Score: 1

Yawn
by Zenja on Mon 5th Dec 2005 21:58 UTC
Zenja
Member since:
2005-07-06

Been using Broadcom chipset wireless driver under Zeta ever since Zeta released.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Yawn
by scottmc on Wed 7th Dec 2005 00:07 UTC in reply to "Yawn"
scottmc Member since:
2005-07-08

In Zeta is it a NATIVE driver or is it using a wrapper around a windows driver? Does it support WEP? WPA? Would it work on PPC?
Didn't think so.
So this is not a Yawn, this is big news, not just for Linux but for all other Alt-OSes.

Reply Score: 1

Goody
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 22:30 UTC
Anonymous
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Well done to them. I don't have any of those devices but have suffered setting them up for others in the past. Another victory to OSS. Anyone with legal issues can get bent.

Reply Score: 1

Woohoo!
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 22:50 UTC
Anonymous
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so when are they integrating this w/ ubuntu... :-)

Reply Score: 0

This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 23:11 UTC
Anonymous
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One of the reasons that there was no opensource driver released was that open source software would be able to change the operation of the wireless cards to do things like tread on unauthorized frequencies.
The broadcom was limited in operation by the software..

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 23:38 UTC in reply to "This is great news but.."
Anonymous Member since:
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"The broadcom was limited in operation by the software.."

I wouldn't be surprised seeing that change in the future.

Maybe in the future it'll mean more OSS drivers, instead of binary. But anyone hoping this kind of work will mean a "free for all" on the spectrum, may soon be disappointed.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: This is great news but..
by Soulbender on Wed 7th Dec 2005 12:06 UTC in reply to "This is great news but.."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"One of the reasons that there was no opensource driver released was that open source software would be able to change the operation of the wireless cards to do things like tread on unauthorized frequencies. "

That's a cop-out exscuse by Broadcom.
Funny how companies like Atheros and Ralink have given out their API spec's for exactly the same kind of wireless cards.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Dec 2005 16:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is great news but.."
Anonymous Member since:
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"One of the reasons that there was no opensource driver released was that open source software would be able to change the operation of the wireless cards..

That's a cop-out exscuse by Broadcom.
Funny how companies like Atheros and Ralink have given out their API spec's for exactly the same kind of wireless cards.

Doh Atheros is a BINARY DRIVER!!!

Reply Score: 0

anonymous_coward Member since:
2005-11-15

Doh Atheros is a BINARY DRIVER!!!

There is open source atheros driver -> http://ath-driver.org/ It's in early stage but it does not use binary HAL.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Dec 2005 21:04 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: This is great news but.."
Anonymous Member since:
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Or you can just use OpenBSD's one, using their open source HAL.

Reply Score: 0

anonymous_coward Member since:
2005-11-15

Or you can just use OpenBSD's one, using their open source HAL.

Yes, but what I've read on a blog of ath-driver's developer OpenBSD version is missing a lot of functionality.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=14134766&postID=11230211684...

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Dec 2005 14:31 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: This is great news but.."
Anonymous Member since:
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you base this on a cheesy no name blog entry.

Reply Score: 0

anonymous_coward Member since:
2005-11-15

This blog entry was written by Mateusz Berezecki -- person who reverse engineered whole binary HAL from madwifi driver. I think that he is the proper person to judge the quality of OpenBSD driver.

Reply Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"Doh Atheros is a BINARY DRIVER!!!"

Not on the BSD's.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: This is great news but..
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Dec 2005 02:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: This is great news but.."
Anonymous Member since:
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"That's a cop-out exscuse by Broadcom.
Funny how companies like Atheros and Ralink have given out their API spec's for exactly the same kind of wireless cards."

I wouldn't put money on that. Atheros and Ralink could have secured their limits either in the hardware, or firmware (or both). Broadcom could have gone with soft-limits set in software. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Anyway you argue it, any product sold in the US has to meet government rules.

Reply Score: 0

Sweet!
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 23:30 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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OS X is pretty, and some of the apps are quite good, but overall I've often found Apple's design choices to be a hindrance to my productivity, particularly in the areas of window manager behavior and keyboard control. I've been really tempted to switch to linux on my powerbook, but I couldn't give up sleep mode and wireless support. Sleep mode works now, and it looks like wireless support will be coming before too long! Maybe it's time to dust off that Linux partition again...

Reply Score: 0

The same to matrox
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 23:40 UTC
Anonymous
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They have released an amazing open source (bit pricey) G550 PCIe graphics card. But the HAL for tv out (I think) is closed source. Maybe this is the next target.

Reply Score: 1

v Does this apply to me?
by Anonymous on Mon 5th Dec 2005 23:50 UTC
yay
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:12 UTC
Anonymous
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i have a compaq v2405 and have been runing ubuntu for weeks with the ndistwrapper with my broadcom card. Runs perfectly! Whats the benifit of switching?

Reply Score: 0

RE: yay
by akro on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:47 UTC in reply to "yay"
akro Member since:
2005-07-06

NDIS wrapper only works on Intel based boxes not on my ibook so now I can have a wireless linux lptop...


good news...

Reply Score: 1

RE: yay
by anonymous_coward on Tue 6th Dec 2005 11:22 UTC in reply to "yay"
anonymous_coward Member since:
2005-11-15

i have a compaq v2405 and have been runing ubuntu for weeks with the ndistwrapper with my broadcom card. Runs perfectly! Whats the benifit of switching?

1) ndiscrapper sucks → http://acx100.sourceforge.net/ndis_cludge.html
2) it presumably will not work with kernel 2.6.16+ → http://lwn.net/Articles/160138/

Reply Score: 1

champagne
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:37 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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I have waited so long for this.... I had completely given up.

huge props to the guys who stuck to the task.

Reply Score: 1

Great news!
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 00:56 UTC
Anonymous
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Good job, guys.

Reply Score: 0

OpenBSD on Linksys?
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 11:53 UTC
Anonymous
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OpenBSD on the wireless routers from Linksys would be great!

Reply Score: 1

RE: OpenBSD on Linksys?
by tantalic on Tue 6th Dec 2005 22:54 UTC in reply to "OpenBSD on Linksys?"
tantalic Member since:
2005-07-06

Exactly what I was thinking! OpennBSD wireless support is great right now and is the perfect platform for a wireless router/firewall. Hopefully someone will use this as a reference for an OpenBSD driver soon so I don't have to buy a much more expensive WRAP box fore this.

Reply Score: 2

Nice work!
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 13:16 UTC
Anonymous
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Thanks for making this possible. I am running Ubuntu on my iBook. I have nothing against OS X, but Ubuntu is a lot better if you are a developer IMHO.

Reply Score: 1

dukeinlondon
Member since:
2005-07-06

Now they will see even less of a point opening up since without doing any effort, they get linux support !

Looks like this chipset is ubiquitous so a lot of people can't avoid it but I'd rather see the linux community throwing their weight behind the likes of Ralinktech who have provided a GPL driver for their wares, which has since been taken over by serialmonkey's people.

Reply Score: 1

Anonymous
Member since:
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Expressing what a wonderful thing it is to have a driver and how regrettable it was that they trailed so far behind their competitors in having a driver for Linux.

Remind them that in the future, they could simply release the specs or their own driver and not be relegated to the kiddie table.

Reply Score: 0

YEAH!
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 16:37 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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Another hurdle is cleared. I really hope Ubuntu puts this into their version of Linux quickly.

Reply Score: 1

woots
by Robocoastie on Tue 6th Dec 2005 18:26 UTC
Robocoastie
Member since:
2005-09-15

WOW! this is huge. Nice work all!

Reply Score: 1

AirForce One 54g
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 18:48 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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I wanted to ask a newbie question here. Please, don't flame me. I have an Acer laptop with a wireless card. lspci lists the following information for it:

00:0b.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4318 [AirForce One 54g] 802.11g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 02)

Is this driver supposed to work with this card? The original webpage mentions that their intention was to reverse-engineer the Broadcom 4301 chipset only. The specs page mentions several PCI and CardBus cards, but mine doesn't have a known brand that I can check against that list. And finally, the driver page mentions BCM 43xx (that would include BCM 4318, I suppose). Is this a targetted card?

Apart from that, while ndiswrapper seems to work fine with the card, I would be very glad if I had a native Linux driver. Specially because ndiswrapper is a hack (a good one, though, kudos to the ndiswrapper people) and I'm not sure how long the hack will remain functional. Kudos too for the people who reverse-engineered the chipset. Good job.

Reply Score: 0

Naive Question
by RGCook on Tue 6th Dec 2005 20:18 UTC
RGCook
Member since:
2005-07-12

Can someone explain to me, because I must be really stupid and naive, how a company benefits by NOT releasing specifications about their hardware such that a group of folks can broaden (no pun intended) the application and use of its products in various platforms. It makes no sense to me to deliberately restrict the development and adoption of what could potentially be another [future] market.

I have to conclude this is just short-sightedness. Where am I going wrong in this assessment?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Naive Question
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Dec 2005 03:51 UTC in reply to "Naive Question"
Anonymous Member since:
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"I have to conclude this is just short-sightedness. Where am I going wrong in this assessment?"

They say that life is the best teacher, so rather than ask us (whom are biased anyway). Why don't you produce an expensive piece of hardware (expensive to design. expensive to produce. expensive to maintain.), and release the drivers and let us know how it turns out? If all else fails, at least you will no longer be "naive".

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Naive Question
by RGCook on Wed 7th Dec 2005 20:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Naive Question"
RGCook Member since:
2005-07-12

I did not mean to imply that companies should give their IP away for free. I understand the resources invested in developing a product - although not specifically in wireless cards. Any my response presumed that Broadcom did not see the ROI in developing Linux drivers - hence my suggestion to release sufficient specs to enable third part development. The resultant drivers could be a cheap, easy way for Broadcom to get a feel for demand and size up the market opportunity, while precluding support investment. After all, they could always claim "Not our drivers - you're on your own."

I still see this as shortsightedness - especially in a crowded, cut-throat margin business. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by supporting Linux long term. That's my unbiased view, whether you accept it or not.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Naive Question
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Dec 2005 02:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Naive Question"
Anonymous Member since:
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Broadcom sells chips. The open source geek isn't their customer. The company that buys chips by the pallet are their customers (minimum for one company was lots of a thousand). Open drivers aren't going to do them any good. The companies that buy the chips might, but we're yelling at Broadcom instead of the companies that make something with those chips, now aren't we?

"There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by supporting Linux long term."

Debatable, but anyway there's more to the world than just "numbers".

Reply Score: 1

microshag
Member since:
2005-11-30

Good point, except that maybe this will draw enough attention to Linux where they will be motivated to put out their own driver whereas in the past they simply ignored it.

Reply Score: 2

Driver usage under OpenBSD
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 23:01 UTC
Anonymous
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Ain't gonna happen, kiddies, for one very simple reason. The docs are licensed under GPL. If you want to see this put into the oBSD tree, it needs a Free license such as BSD or ISC.
http://www.openbsd.org/policy.html

Reply Score: 0

RE: Driver usage under OpenBSD
by Anonymous on Tue 6th Dec 2005 23:41 UTC in reply to "Driver usage under OpenBSD"
Anonymous Member since:
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The easiest way to get code into OpenBSD is to get it committed to NetBSD first.

Reply Score: 0

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

And vice versa. And by committing to FreeBSD, etc etc.
Or was your reply a vague version of the old "OpenBSD" steals from NetBSD" bullcrap?

Reply Score: 1

Anonymous Member since:
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Hmmm...I wouldn't call it stealing but after a while the "sync with NetBSD" commit messages would seem to bring into question the originality of OpenBSD's efforts.

Reply Score: 0

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Uhu. I hope netbsd isnt using OpenSSH or the Ralink driver or the Atmel driver or systrace etc etc. If they did it could kinda bring into question the originality of NetBSD's efforts....

Reply Score: 1

Misguided worries...
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Dec 2005 06:51 UTC
Anonymous
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"I AM worried about Apple getting all sue-happy and a bunch of good FOSS programmers getting up to their necks in fines..." You shouldn't be worried in that sense. (1) Apple doesn't care. (2) The only one who would care is Broadcom.

Reply Score: 0

Does this really work now....
by Anonymous on Wed 7th Dec 2005 08:48 UTC
Anonymous
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Or do we have to wait more?

Reply Score: 0

yes!
by Anonymous on Thu 8th Dec 2005 16:03 UTC
Anonymous
Member since:
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About fscking time! You have no idea the amount of pain caused from not being able to use wifi in *BSD/Linux on the PowerBooks.

Reply Score: 0