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Broadcom Announces Open-Source 802.11n Driver!

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  • #16
    Just about every card with a "smart" dma engine requires firmware as the dma engine is basically a little on-board cpu that provides the driver API. Depending on the chip it may be loaded by the driver or burned into rom. Just about every wireless card uses firmware and lots of others thing do as well.

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    • #17
      Call me a cynic, but... Is someone about to attempt to launch a linux laptop and leant on Broadcom?

      From a commercial perspective, you have to justify changing a seemingly successful formula for Broadcom so far. Not providing FOSS drivers doesn't seem to have hurt their sales that much given the number of Dell and HP systems using them.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by RobbieAB View Post
        Call me a cynic, but... Is someone about to attempt to launch a linux laptop and leant on Broadcom?

        From a commercial perspective, you have to justify changing a seemingly successful formula for Broadcom so far. Not providing FOSS drivers doesn't seem to have hurt their sales that much given the number of Dell and HP systems using them.
        Apparently the posters on the LWN.net page disagree

        Late or not, and whatever the behind-the-scene reasons, I am glad Broadcom took the decision.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by droidhacker View Post
          It doesn't matter if it requires firmware or not... just that the firmware is licensed in a way that allows it to be freely distributed.
          Allow redistribution unmodified and not tampered with that is. That should keep the FCC happy.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by DeepDayze View Post
            Allow redistribution unmodified and not tampered with that is. That should keep the FCC happy.
            The FCC can suck it. They can only complain if someone actually uses devices in a "bad way", but come the hell on, this is 2010, radio interference being an issue was long put to rest by the use of digital signals so that even overlapping broadcasts are easily discernible. The FCC needs to dismantle all of those rules. I think the real reason they haven't done is because a) governments hate shrinking and b) the wireless companies want to keep the general public less capable so they can provide those services instead after being given an FCC stamp of approval, and c) the government and corporations all want you listening to only "mainstream media" so they can control you, not amateur independent sources. The time to free the airwaves is long, long overdue. Pirate radio ho, mateies!

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Yfrwlf View Post
              The FCC can suck it. They can only complain if someone actually uses devices in a "bad way", but come the hell on, this is 2010, radio interference being an issue was long put to rest by the use of digital signals so that even overlapping broadcasts are easily discernible. The FCC needs to dismantle all of those rules. I think the real reason they haven't done is because a) governments hate shrinking and b) the wireless companies want to keep the general public less capable so they can provide those services instead after being given an FCC stamp of approval, and c) the government and corporations all want you listening to only "mainstream media" so they can control you, not amateur independent sources. The time to free the airwaves is long, long overdue. Pirate radio ho, mateies!
              I share your sentiment, and the FCC should look into removing old regulations that no longer really apply in this day and age. While I do see there should be some regulation to keep people from stomping all over the spectrum or abusing it, there should be plenty of leeway for wireless

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Yfrwlf View Post
                The FCC can suck it. They can only complain if someone actually uses devices in a "bad way", but come the hell on, this is 2010, radio interference being an issue was long put to rest by the use of digital signals so that even overlapping broadcasts are easily discernible. The FCC needs to dismantle all of those rules. I think the real reason they haven't done is because a) governments hate shrinking and b) the wireless companies want to keep the general public less capable so they can provide those services instead after being given an FCC stamp of approval, and c) the government and corporations all want you listening to only "mainstream media" so they can control you, not amateur independent sources. The time to free the airwaves is long, long overdue. Pirate radio ho, mateies!
                I think you seriously should reconsider your opinion on this. The FCC and similar organizations in other countries have to certify this stuff, as the general public aren't suppose to be able to transmit on the wast majority of frequencies (the exception is some narrow bands for radio amateurs, for example 430-440MHz and 2.39-2.45GHz). What happens if someone can easily change the software on a radio device and disturb air traffic control for instance? It's not encrypted in any way, but just plain AM on 122MHz (at least around here). Devices that can receive such signals are quite easy to find, and technically, they are quite capable of transmitting on these frequencies, but can't because someone might pull a prank with the end result being an airplane crash.

                Now I'm well aware that there's nothing stopping someone with technical knowledge from building a similar device, but at least it prevents most people from doing something really wrong. Either way, the air is a common, shared resource that can not be freely used by people. If there wasn't any regulations, we could end up with total chaos where everyone had to transmit at insane power levels to even be heard clearly at the other end. Just look at 2.4GHz for instance. Both bluetooth and WLAN uses this amateur band, and how are people using it? Without thinking about what they are doing at all. You can easily find 3-4 people in the same area using the exact same WLAN-channel around here, which means you can pretty much forget using any of the 4 adjacent channels (2 above and 2 below). What would happen if people were able to set a custom, "secret" frequency for their WLAN and chose a frequency used for commercial radio broadcasting, some navigation system or something else. What would happen if that same person discovered there was some interference there? What would happen if that same person found a setting for transmit power and increased it drastically because it said "improves signal strength/reception"? Besides, why should people be able to change a radio device to transmit on any frequency they like? What is the purpose, when you aren't allow to transmit on most frequencies anyway?

                Ohh ... and btw: digital signals has now effect in regards to interference, it's just a lot easier to correct that than analog signals in the receiver. Interference is an increasing problem nowadays. If you live in a densely populated area, try setting your WLAN to channel 6 or 11 and watch how horrible signal strength you get compared to channel 1 to 3. That's interference my friend ;-)

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by AHSauge View Post
                  Ohh ... and btw: digital signals has now effect in regards to interference, it's just a lot easier to correct that than analog signals in the receiver. Interference is an increasing problem nowadays. If you live in a densely populated area, try setting your WLAN to channel 6 or 11 and watch how horrible signal strength you get compared to channel 1 to 3. That's interference my friend ;-)
                  Is what you say.

                  Originally posted by Yfrwlf View Post
                  radio interference being an issue was long put to rest by the use of digital signals so that even overlapping broadcasts are easily discernible
                  Is what I said.

                  I looked around a bit and was unable to find my source that claimed digital devices could overlap safely with no interference, but it basically went something like this: Each device broadcasts radio waves, much like someone talking for instance broadcasting sound waves. If you have two people talking, you can still hear both of them, and you can choose which one to listen to. Their sound waves don't cancel each other out, but pass through each other, and they claimed devices were good enough that while using digital they could choose which devices they listened to without a problem. The reason for different channels, they claimed, was because in that situation the devices don't have anything to tell them which one to pay attention to. With things like, say, bluetooth devices though, you select which device you want to listen to, and communication flows perfectly well between those two devices from that point on, even if there are other bluetooth devices around you.

                  Now, sound waves I know CAN cancel each other out, that's how you have some things that cancel noise like within cars and such is they generate the opposite sound waves of the waves coming in to cancel them out so you get silence. However, radio waves supposedly do not do that, and if so the listening to two people talking example isn't a very good one, but none-the-less there you go. ^^

                  I'm interested in hearing anyone's arguments and explanations about the topic, but this argument was used within some "open radio" website to justify having completely unregulated radio AFAIK. Obviously there are a lot of other important ways you can have "open radio" even if you can't have complete and total deregulation, but if that regulation really isn't needed now days then of course that should be gotten rid of.

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                  • #24
                    No, digital signals in general don't work like that, but you aren't actually totally wrong either. Come to think of it, you are describing a form of spread spectrum called CDMA, which indeed can allow multiple devices communicate on the same frequency. Actually it's quite widely used (GPS and 3G for instance) because, among other things, each channel are rarely going to cause interference in other channels even though they all use the same frequency. However it's not immune to interference, so you can't have unlimited number of channels (and the requirement of having orthogonal PN-sequences will also limit the number). Given enough noise, it wouldn't work, and each channel will add to the noise. Also, you're still prone to noise due to harmonics of other frequencies, and there might also be other systems using the same frequency adding to the noise. Typically you might end up with a limitation of 20 users on the frequency, which is the reason companies producing for example base stations for cellphone nets also applies a combination of space division and frequency division in order to support more users. That been said, this isn't a product of using digital signals, but rather using a PN-sequence/code to spread a digital signal over a larger frequency band. Without the spreading it wouldn't stand a chance if multiple devices where transmitting at the same frequency.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by AHSauge View Post
                      No, digital signals in general don't work like that, but you aren't actually totally wrong either. Come to think of it, you are describing a form of spread spectrum called CDMA, which indeed can allow multiple devices communicate on the same frequency. Actually it's quite widely used (GPS and 3G for instance) because, among other things, each channel are rarely going to cause interference in other channels even though they all use the same frequency. However it's not immune to interference, so you can't have unlimited number of channels (and the requirement of having orthogonal PN-sequences will also limit the number). Given enough noise, it wouldn't work, and each channel will add to the noise. Also, you're still prone to noise due to harmonics of other frequencies, and there might also be other systems using the same frequency adding to the noise. Typically you might end up with a limitation of 20 users on the frequency, which is the reason companies producing for example base stations for cellphone nets also applies a combination of space division and frequency division in order to support more users. That been said, this isn't a product of using digital signals, but rather using a PN-sequence/code to spread a digital signal over a larger frequency band. Without the spreading it wouldn't stand a chance if multiple devices where transmitting at the same frequency.
                      Okay, so in other words you're saying the only reason things can simultaneously communicate is due to them spreading out in the spectrum a bit so they can use a different part if needed as to avoid interference.

                      Well, that sucks. That means any and all wireless communications could be somewhat easily disrupted if you wanted to. Of course, any electronic devices period are subject to EMPs, but I mean it sucks that there still has to be regulation there but oh well.

                      In any case, you would probably agree that more of the spectrum needs to be opened up to public use, due to the ability for digital devices to better communicate in environments that are somewhat crowded. In the cases you mentioned, obviously they needed to spread out on the band a bit more to avoid conflict.

                      I don't know how difficult it is to obtain a license for using an area of spectrum all for yourself because I heard there should be enough room for basically everyone to have their own radio station. If you broke up the entire spectrum into chunks big enough to allow communication for today's digital devices, how many chunks would you get I wonder? That would answer that question. It'd just be nice if anyone could put up their own radio station, that's all. Yeah Inet communication is great and all, but unfortunately landlines require infrastructure and money, while freeing the airwaves more would allow for free and totally open mesh networks, i.e. the Open Internet.

                      Ultimately that's what I'm personally interested in here, otherwise I wouldn't really care too much. Mainstream media needs to be dethroned, for the sake of all citizens, if they want any kind of real change. Yeah, I'm pretty political, so sue me.

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                      • #26
                        Anybody tried new Broadcom driver yet? Is it still better to use b43 closed source firmware because I saw in article that lots of features are missing in open source driver?

                        What I did before is just to download Broadcom firmware and extract it on Fedora to /lib/firmware directory.

                        What do you suggest? Stick with closed source firmware or not?

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                        • #27
                          Yesterday one Kanotix user wanted to use brcm80211, but after the correct firmware was installled the laptop refused to boot correctly. So i updated my script that installs broadcom wl driver to blacklist brcm80211 too, with wl the wireless card worked fine.

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                          • #28
                            Online Casino

                            Mike are you there?

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