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Atheros HAL Under Free Software License

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  • Atheros HAL Under Free Software License

    Phoronix: Atheros HAL Under Free Software License

    Last year the MadWiFi project abandoned their proprietary HAL in favor of using OpenHAL. OpenHAL is a open-source HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) that was developed by OpenBSD for their Atheros WiFi driver...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=Njc1MA

  • #2
    That's 2/3 of my wifi-cards that work(will soon work) with a vanilla kernel!! Now if someone does some more work on the libertas driver then I'm golden!!

    The two biggest problems with linux have for a long time been wifi and high-end graphics, now it looks like those are going away...
    Last edited by wiscados; 09-27-2008, 09:52 AM.

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    • #3
      wifi? sure
      but high-end gaphics? i seriously doubt it

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      • #4
        as a new owner of an Atheros card, I applaud this.

        though I'm still confused as to why there are so many HAL's. Of course, if it's a BSD-style license, does that mean everything will get merged into just one HAL someday?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by jeffro-tull View Post
          as a new owner of an Atheros card, I applaud this.

          though I'm still confused as to why there are so many HAL's. Of course, if it's a BSD-style license, does that mean everything will get merged into just one HAL someday?
          Probably.. ...unless the systems all have their unique merits in which case we may end up with competitors...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jeffro-tull View Post
            as a new owner of an Atheros card, I applaud this.

            though I'm still confused as to why there are so many HAL's. Of course, if it's a BSD-style license, does that mean everything will get merged into just one HAL someday?
            Yeah, would be nice if there was a "generic" HAL that would work with just about any wifi card out there so that you can at least get the vast majority of cards working with minimum fuss, albeit with just the basic features. Then Wifi woes would be pretty much gone and thus one less gripe about Linux (lack of wifi drivers). Then many distros can ship the HAL with their CD's so users can get up and running quickly
            Last edited by DeepDayze; 09-27-2008, 01:27 PM.

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            • #7
              Wait, huh?
              Read this response: http://lkml.org/lkml/2008/9/26/341

              So has it been released under a free software license or hasn't it?

              Is that post just trying to say that even though the code is now open, it's still proprietary and kinda nonfree (like the open nv driver maybe)? Or is it trying to say that there are now 4 drivers: the 2 free ones: ath5k, ath9k, plus the closed source HAL and now something separate from the closed source HAL that they have decided to open source?

              I'm confused.
              Last edited by StringCheesian; 09-27-2008, 01:57 PM.

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              • #8
                madwifi seems to support some extra features which this open hal does not provide. but for general use it will be enough.

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                • #9
                  yay for legacy code.

                  Its like throwing your dog table scraps. In this case the scraps arent even fresh.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cruiseoveride View Post
                    yay for legacy code.

                    Its like throwing your dog table scraps. In this case the scraps arent even fresh.
                    No, throwing scraps would be if Broadcom dumped a driver under an opensource license:
                    really late, and probably outdated.

                    I highly encourage anyone to throw their driver code over the wall: yes, it's better when they work with the community, but if the code is under a FSF- approved license, then at some point, it will attract attention.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dashcloud View Post
                      No, throwing scraps would be if Broadcom dumped a driver under an opensource license:
                      really late, and probably outdated.

                      I highly encourage anyone to throw their driver code over the wall: yes, it's better when they work with the community, but if the code is under a FSF- approved license, then at some point, it will attract attention.
                      believe it or not....they did some months ago but for some reason there was no noise at all in the usual channels

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

                      still not clear if its free or not

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DeepDayze View Post
                        Yeah, would be nice if there was a "generic" HAL that would work with just about any wifi card out there so that you can at least get the vast majority of cards working with minimum fuss, albeit with just the basic features. Then Wifi woes would be pretty much gone and thus one less gripe about Linux (lack of wifi drivers). Then many distros can ship the HAL with their CD's so users can get up and running quickly
                        IIRC, the atheros HAL is essentially a firmware blob. The Atheros chipset is fairly generalised with extra features provide by the firmware.

                        Not all cards are made this way. There is no wifi HAL standard AFAIK, and the more expensive cards implement more features in the chipset rather than the firmware. Hence, a generic HAL doesn't really solve anything, because we would still need all the card specific information that we currently need in the respective drivers

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by trschober View Post
                          believe it or not....they did some months ago but for some reason there was no noise at all in the usual channels

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

                          still not clear if its free or not
                          After a quick look, it seems like it's a binary blob with a GPL source code wrapper to insert it into the kernel. Not really what we are looking for. But I suppose it's slightly better then having to use fwcutter to pull the blob out of the windows driver or using ndiswrapper.

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                          • #14
                            Atheros seems to have the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in this mission...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dbstraffin View Post
                              After a quick look, it seems like it's a binary blob with a GPL source code wrapper to insert it into the kernel. Not really what we are looking for. But I suppose it's slightly better then having to use fwcutter to pull the blob out of the windows driver or using ndiswrapper.
                              Not that I've taken a good look at it or anything, but that binary blob is most likely the firmware that has to be loaded onto the card. If I remember correct, that firmware has to be closed source because of a US regulation thingy that's suppose to prevent people from doing modifications on radio devices. One way to circumvent that is to have the firmware permanently on the card, otherwise I believe you have to show that the source code is sufficiently preventing end user modifications. I might be wrong though ...

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