Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Sep 2010 17:40 UTC, submitted by kragil
Linux Ahem. I just had to write that all-caps headline. Broadcom's wireless chips - used by just about everybody in this industry - have been a major pain in the bum for Linux users, because the company did not release open source drivers. Workarounds had to be created, lots of pain was had in the process, but now, Broadcom has finally seen the light: they have open sourced their wireless Linux drivers.
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Great news...
by tux68 on Thu 9th Sep 2010 17:52 UTC
tux68
Member since:
2006-10-24

That pretty much leaves only nVidia as the only idio^h^h^h^h company holding out on us. Granted there are other graphic card options that make an nVidia announcement less important than this one. But it will be nice when the day finally comes that closed hardware is no longer an issue and we can concentrate on competing with closed solutions higher up the stack.

Thanks Broadcom

Reply Score: 7

RE: Great news... - Nvidia
by jabbotts on Thu 9th Sep 2010 18:27 in reply to "Great news..."
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Credit where due and I must give Nvidia credit for at least providing a usable closed binary driver. It installs easily if the distro does not already have it packaged in a non-free repository. As far as companies who've chosen to go it alone and only provide a closed driver; Nvidia has done well. Many other company's have delivered piss poor token drivers if they've delivered drivers at all.

I sure wouldn't complain about them releasing source so that all effort can be focused on the existing code base instead of rewriting it under the Nouveau project. Drivers have no business not being open source and anything that makes general purpose hardware more general purpose software compatible is a good thing. I am currently waiting for some polish for Debian Squeeze packaged nvidia-glx for my GTX260 and polish for the Debian Squeeze packages xserver-xorg-video-intel for the Intel gpu in the Lenovo X201. Until those two items work I'm stuck with Nouveau's lack of 3D support for Nvidia and the Xorg Vesa driver which is sadly lacking compared to what my notebook GPU should be doing. I'm patient since Squeeze is still "Debian Stable 6 RC" with emphasis on Release Candidate at present but still, there is really no valid justification for the amount of hardware grief bad vendors cause.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE: Great news...
by vivainio on Thu 9th Sep 2010 18:32 in reply to "Great news..."
vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26

That pretty much leaves only nVidia as the only idio^h^h^h^h company holding out on us.


You can easily get by with Nouveau already.

Granted there are other graphic card options that make an nVidia announcement less important than this one.


So far it's been easy to avoid broadcom. As an example, a Dell laptop I got offered the option to choose either intel or broadcom wlan chip.

Netbooks seem to ship with Atheros cards that work great now.

I imagine that some OEMs have told Broadcom that they will do their hw sourcing elsewhere because of the driver situation - all big companies have Linux savvy people around at places where their voice gets heard.

Wifi chip is a cheap commodity, and I can't think of anything special that Broadcom could offer that would justify choosing them over anything else.

But it will be nice when the day finally comes that closed hardware is no longer an issue and we can concentrate on competing with closed solutions higher up the stack.


How does closed hardware prevent this?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Great news...
by Flatland_Spider on Fri 10th Sep 2010 04:37 in reply to "RE: Great news..."
Flatland_Spider Member since:
2006-09-01

It's easy as long as the PC is Intel based. AMD based stuff get stuck with Broadcom networking chips more often then not.

Maybe now AMD PCs won't give me heartburn when I think about buying one.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Great news...
by kaiwai on Fri 10th Sep 2010 00:31 in reply to "Great news..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

That pretty much leaves only nVidia as the only idio^h^h^h^h company holding out on us. Granted there are other graphic card options that make an nVidia announcement less important than this one. But it will be nice when the day finally comes that closed hardware is no longer an issue and we can concentrate on competing with closed solutions higher up the stack.


What the open source world needs to provide is a Mesa stack with a good interface so that at least the driver itself can remain closed source (for the short term) and the OpenGL part of the equation is then pushed off to the open source world thus to have a standardised single library as with the case of MacOS X rather than the current situation of Linux where you have a mixture of OpenGL implementations each introducing their own peculiarities and bugs.

With that being said, there is always ATI but even then the open source drivers are always behind the times when it comes to performance and support - the man power just isn't there and open source isn't the silver bullet that'll solve problems as some try to make it out to be.

Thanks Broadcom


Well BroadCom have been providing a driver for quite some time:

http://www.broadcom.com/support/802.11/linux_sta.php

Sure it includes a binary blob but all what is required is provided in an open source way which doesn't prohibit developers from shipping it with their Linux distributions. I guess the big step forward is having an entirely open source driver rather than a hybrid which is a step in the right direction.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Great news...
by tux68 on Fri 10th Sep 2010 01:45 in reply to "RE: Great news..."
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

What the open source world needs to provide is a Mesa stack with a good interface so that at least the driver itself can remain closed source (for the short term) and the OpenGL part of the equation is then pushed off to the open source world thus to have a standardised single library as with the case of MacOS X rather than the current situation of Linux where you have a mixture of OpenGL implementations each introducing their own peculiarities and bugs.


You don't support open source by enabling closed source solutions. You support open source by pursuing and encouraging open source solutions.

With that being said, there is always ATI but even then the open source drivers are always behind the times when it comes to performance and support - the man power just isn't there and open source isn't the silver bullet that'll solve problems as some try to make it out to be.


You're right, open source isn't a silver bullet. But open source can be a goal in and of itself. Open source solutions have certain traits that are desirable beyond the latest and greatest performance metrics. There is real liberation gained when you're not tied to a single vendor who controls the source. As one example, support for old video cards can be maintained long after the original business that sold them has dissolved or just lost interest in the product.

IMO people need to stop being so obsessed with performance or the latest bells and whistles to appreciate the real value of open source in freedom and risk mitigation.

Well BroadCom have been providing a driver for quite some time.


That doesn't help address some of the important qualities that attracts business and hackers to open source in the first place. You don't have to be a radical freetard to appreciate and value open source. And once you appreciate its positive qualities, the nVidia or Broadcom closed-source offerings for Linux aren't interesting or praise worthy.

That being said, sometimes a company like Broadcom can not make the internal shift needed toward open source in a single leap and must make a gradual transition as we saw in this case. Though not ideal, it's understandable and we can forgive them their late arrival to the party now that they're really ready to join in.

It will be really nice if someday we can say the same about nVidia.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE: Great news...
by DerGenosse on Fri 10th Sep 2010 04:40 in reply to "Great news..."
DerGenosse Member since:
2010-01-11

That pretty much leaves only nVidia as the only idio^h^h^h^h company holding out on us.

Hahaha. What a clown. Nvidia doesn't give a damn about you. They have business customers who rely on Linux. That's why there is a driver. That's why the driver doesn't suck. Go back in your cave. And stop open sourcing your brain. It hurts.

Edited 2010-09-10 04:43 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[2]: Great news...
by tux68 on Fri 10th Sep 2010 05:23 in reply to "RE: Great news..."
tux68 Member since:
2006-10-24

Hahaha. What a clown. Nvidia doesn't give a damn about you. They have business customers who rely on Linux. That's why there is a driver. That's why the driver doesn't suck. Go back in your cave. And stop open sourcing your brain. It hurts.


Excellent point, very thoughtful.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Great news...
by lemur2 on Fri 10th Sep 2010 05:27 in reply to "RE: Great news..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

That pretty much leaves only nVidia as the only idio^h^h^h^h company holding out on us.

Hahaha. What a clown. Nvidia doesn't give a damn about you. They have business customers who rely on Linux. That's why there is a driver. That's why the driver doesn't suck. Go back in your cave. And stop open sourcing your brain. It hurts.


Being separate from the kernel means that the Nvidia driver breaks with every kernel update.

Being separate from Xorg means that the Nvidia driver is incompatible with recent developments in the X stack, such as kernel modesetting (KMS).

KMS is a pre-requisite for the coming upgrade to X that will allow "rootless" X ... as long as the graphics driver is part of the kernel and supports KMS, soon it will be possible to run an X session with non-root privileges. This is a great advance from a security and stability point of view. It will mean also that it might become possible for X to crash and be re-started without having to close applications or login sessions.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=NzM2MA

None of these advances will be available to people who run the binary Nvidia graphics driver.

Very soon, if not already, Nvidia will be very much the non-preferred graphics option for use with Linux machines. It may still be possible to run Linux on a Nvidia graphics machine using the nouveau open source driver, but that project is regrettably falling further and further behind in capabilities.

Edited 2010-09-10 05:36 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5