MadWiFi Abandons Proprietary HAL
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 26 September 2007 at 09:40 AM EDT. 2 Comments
We missed reporting this news last week due to the Intel Developer Forum, but the MadWiFi team has announced that they will be abandoning the proprietary HAL currently required to make this Linux wireless driver functional. In fact, new work on the MadWiFi driver will really cease as they are now focusing their work on a new completely free and open-source driver. For those that do not know, MadWifi is a Linux driver for use with Atheros 802.11 Wireless Chipsets, but it had depended upon a proprietary Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) for regulatory reasons.

The new Atheros driver for Linux being worked on, ath5k, is based upon the MadWiFi driver but integrates OpenHAL, which is an open-source HAL derived from the Atheros driver found in OpenBSD. Fortunately, all legal matters have been cleared up. The "central regulatory domain agent" will allow the driver to be completely open-source without any binary blobs, but at the same time to comply with all wireless communication laws depending upon the user's location. Once the ath5k reaches a stable status it will hopefully be included upstream with the Linux kernel. More information is available at MadWiFi.org.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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