Chips are 'binary code'. Chip companies always need to draw an interface
line somewhere, beyond which information is restricted in order to =
proprietary stuff, allow for backwards-compatible expansion, or provide
simplified abstactions. For Atheros the line is the HAL layer. For =
it's firmware, or a register interface to Verilog/VHDL code compiled =
Binary code (in one form or another) and lack of complete visibility are
pretty much a given, but of course you are right that good documentation =
essential to any binary interface if useful things are to be built atop.
[mailto:madwifi-devel-admin@...] On Behalf Of Mathieu
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2003 11:35 PM
To: greg chesson
Cc: Jelle Foks; tom@...; madwifi-devel@...;
Subject: Re: [Madwifi-devel] Re: Proper contact at Atheros...
comments interspeced below.
On Thu, 2003-09-25 at 20:18, greg chesson wrote:
> In order to work on the HAL, a developer needs the same information=20
> (and support) provided to vendors who are building boards and
> systems and releated software. It is not a task to be undertaken
> It is not a task that can be undertaken with a "no support provided"
I have already done similar work on other rather complex systems. I am =
scared by lack of support. I am scared by lack of control (not in the =
sense, in the development sense) of a source code.
Basically, if there is a bit of code I do not control in my driver, how =
I debug something in it ? I have stability problems with the current =
driver and I have the technical knowledge to fix it but I cannot do so
because binary code makes a driver a black box (I learned this through
personal hard experience).
> because hal developers need access to the chip designers as well as=20
> access to lab test facilities - spectrum analyzers, calibration=20
> equipment and other gear
I do not think so. I do not plan to rewrite the HAL. I just need to see =
code and be able to single step through it from time to time when =
my own code.
> Right now there are about a dozen companies with HAL source. They have =
> full Atheros support, are building boards and systems, and generally=20
> know what they're doing although they still need assistance.
I find this very insulting. You are basically saying the the open source
community is incompetent technically.
> These companies will also be certifying their Linux-based products=20
> agencies. That is not the case with the majority of folks who would =
> to hack on the driver.
I understand there are regulatory issues with making certain parts of =
HAL public. However, it seems to me that a random NDA saying that, I, as =
developper, will not distribute the sources or binaries for these parts
should be enough with regard to the FCC or any other regulatory agency.
> There is some hal porting work to other architectures that will appear
> on sourceforge. That will satisfy most requests for hal source.
I am not interested in other architectures.
> Other improvements are coming along, mainly exposing more chip
> for crypto, qos, and power control. These will also appear on
I am not interested in depending on other people's schedules, even more =
these schedules are not publicly available.=20
> In short - we welcome competent help:
> obtain a technical license agreement from Atheros,
> show up with some patches that do something worthwhile (paraphrasing=20
> Linus), and we'll be grateful.
In short, you are saying, pay 40KUSD, write code for us and we will like
you. I find this very rude and rather unproductive.
I have immediate needs for further functionality in this driver. I did =
ask anyone to add this functionality to the driver because this is Open
Source: just hack it, send a patch and everyone will be happy. I have =
time (because I was assigned to this task at work) and technical =
to implement these features. Because I am not a super guru, I write =
code all the time. This buggy code must be debugged. Debugging my own =
code without being able to see what a given piece of code does exactly =
waste of time.=20
Experience shows that the bug always comes weird interraction between =
black box and your code because either you are the first one to really =
the feature or the first one to use it that way. The existance of this
binary code/black box makes it impossible for me to debug my own code.
- if there is a schedule for other platforms, new functionality, make =
- please, make public as much source as possible from the hal.
- please, document as much as possible the _exact_ behavior of each
function in the HAL and its _side effects_.
Greg, I am not yelling at you because you are evil and write proprietary
software, I am not yelling at you because I find your answer very rude.
I am simply stating that the existance of a driver with binary bits =
impossible for _developers_ to work on this driver. As such, I wonder =
Atheros has tried to make this driver free software.=20
Is it because they hope to get support from the Open Source Community =
thus get free -as in beer- external software developement
ressources) ? If so, this was a mistake I think.=20
Is it because they need to provide end-user support for the cards based =
atheros products ? If this is the case, it would probably be way less
painful for Atheros to release binary-only drivers and not try to =
half-binary drivers. It is not less legal with regard to the Linux =
GPL and it would save you the pain of listening to weenies like me.
Mathieu Lacage <mathieu.lacage@...>
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