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Wireless Networking Software Hardware Linux

NDIS Wrapper For Wireless LAN Cards Under GPL 222

An anonymous reader writes " Shortly after Linuxant has released their commercial DriverLoader, Pontus Fuchs has made an NDIS wrapper available under the GPL. Since some vendors refuse to release specifications or even a binary Linux-driver for their Wireless LAN cards he has decided to solve it himself by making a kernel module that can load Microsoft-Windows NDIS drivers. ndiswrapper has been tested with some BroadCom miniPCI cards and it seems to work on some laptops . With some more work it should be possible to support more cards. Hopefully this will be the case for the many owners of Linux laptops based on Intel's Centrino technology. Please contact Pontus if you are interested in helping out!"
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NDIS Wrapper For Wireless LAN Cards Under GPL

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  • Sweet! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zx-6e ( 604380 ) <zx-6e@dragonne[ ] ['two' in gap]> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:40PM (#7511980)
    As long as the NDIS wrappers support all the capabilities of the cards, this is great news!
  • by Neil Watson ( 60859 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:41PM (#7511985) Homepage
    Would someone care to point out which cards have native Linux drivers available? Once we have this list I think we should go out of our way to buy from vendors with Linux drivers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:43PM (#7511995)
    The wrapper should send an e-mail to the hardware vendor every time it loads. As more people use the wrapper, they get more and more e-mail. Perhaps they would rather write proper Linux drivers than get more e-mail. ;-)
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:47PM (#7512038) Homepage Journal
    For quite a while now, I've considered what sorts of problems would be inherent in cross platform drivers. Usually, the problem seems to come back to a difference in the way kernels manage their drivers and differences in the way that I/O is done between OSes. Perhaps a "Driver Adapter" could be built that would allow drivers written for it to run on any OS? The basic concept is that the adapter itself would be a driver for the OS, then the "Cross Platform Drivers" would deal directly with the adapter.

    Anyone have any thoughts on why this would or wouldn't work?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:48PM (#7512042)
    Good news : I can get that %^*@$# network card going now.

    Bad news : Nobody will bother to write Linux drivers soon enough, they'll all say "why bother, we'll just make a Windows driver and tell people to use the wrapper.

    Net results :

    - This makes card vendors inclined to think only the Windows platform is truly important

    - This allows Microsoft to have the option of one day changing, subtly messing up or adding undocumented calls to their API, slowly leaving Linux people in the cold as all card vendors transition.

    - I would think native drivers are faster / more efficient / more full featured than drivers running under emulation. That might not be the case though, but more often than not, running alien binaries in any OS isn't known to be as fast as the real McCoy.
  • Licensing issues (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sgf ( 1581 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @01:55PM (#7512095) Homepage
    How does the licensing work with this? If it's GPL, isn't it being linked (albeit in a kind of weird runtime way) with proprietary code? It seems a nice idea to write code in order to export the features of proprietary code into open software, but how do you distinguish it from programs that do the opposite?
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @02:04PM (#7512160) Homepage Journal

    Bad news : Nobody will bother to write Linux drivers soon enough, they'll all say "why bother, we'll just make a Windows driver and tell people to use the wrapper.

    This is already happening. The excellent 3COM 990 series (the network cards with a RISC CPU and memory on the card), for example, have their own firmware and API that hugely simplified writing a wrapper for Linux, to the point that there isn't a real driver. While the wrapper-drivers work, you don't get the benefits of CPU offloading and profiling that you get under Windows 2000.

  • one bad thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by termos ( 634980 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @02:09PM (#7512196) Homepage
    The only bad thing I experienced when testing this NdisWrapper was that I needed Linux 2.6.0-test8 or higher.

    I don't want to run a beta version of Linux, so is there any good reason for this?
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @02:22PM (#7512300)
    "Since the transmit power levels and frequencies are all set differently in different parts of the world, the closed-source software is needed to restrict people's control over the hardware. "

    It's a matter of opinion that "restricting people's control over the hardware" is necessary or appropriate. If there is some compelling state interest, then it should be considered a defective and/or dangerous product, which ought to be dispensable only to licensed purchasers.

    Treating it as a problem that the consumer owns does not solve the problem. Just because the manufacturer hasn't enabled the consumer to alter the card's programming, doesn't change the fact that the dangerous device has been distributed into the wild.

    As soon as some independent party (not subject to the US law-by-agency-order), creates software to unlock these cards, the disabled-by-obscurity features will be open. If that's a problem for the state, then they should have considered it before allowing the product to be sold.

    If some product can be converted to a weapon, the fact is, the weapon is in the consumer's hands whether you've told him how to convert it or not. You hold some of the responsibility for this product getting into the consumer's hands.

  • by pyros ( 61399 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:15PM (#7512835) Journal
    yeah, I have a WPC-11, and I've been very happy with it. I finally got encryption (albeit 64bit) working with the orinoco_cs driver, which means I don't have to wait for this guy [] to catch up with new kernel releases. I'm pretty sure that Linksys switched to Broadcom. That's actually part of the big stink over the source code for the WRT54G [] router they sell. It runs linux, and uses a Broadcom chipset. So we know a driver exists.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:32PM (#7513664)
    "AddLib Compatible" SoundBlaster cards?

    Creative Labs stuff is everywhere today. Where is AddLib?

    Come on people, many factors determine success or failure for any given technoloy. The more people using this stuff in Linux, more pressure to the vendor to release native drivers.

    In the meantime, another choice is given to Linux users. Isn't it all about choice? "Choice!", this is the mantra, am I missing something?
  • by Asmodeus ( 10868 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @06:15PM (#7514756)
    Its actually quite hard to reverse engineer modern hardware. Gone are the days of a few bits to twiddle on an IO port. Now we are talking entire protocol stacks for complex protocols with varying amounts of the stack and/or compression implemented in hardware. Go read the USB or 802.11 specs sometime. This is not your grandfathers' serial port. Yes, I am experienced at writing device drivers. I reverse engineered a major USB webcam chipset for Linux, and I've written many older drivers.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's