Hi MadWifi Team:
Will there be Madwifi version 1.0 released when AR5k project is kick-off ?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Miller" <1337mail@...>
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 4:38 AM
Subject: Re: [Madwifi-devel] [ANNOUNCE] MadWifi project moves away
frombinary-only HAL in favor of ath5k
> This sounds great! Moving to OpenHAL should benefit madwifi in many ways.
> There is only one thing I question: "Another important development is
> the work on a "central regulatory domain
> agent". It aims to ensure compliance with the regulatory constraints and
> rules based on the current location of the user. The agent and its
> integration with the kernel will allow wireless LAN drivers to enforce
> local regulations without requiring non-free software for that task. This
> work will soon be published for merging with the upstream kernel."
> In my opinion, protection should not be in the software for such
> things. While Atheros may be required by law to do this, madwifi (this
> is NOT legal advice in any way shape or form) is not required to do
> One comparison which can be made to this situation is that of VLC.
> Whereas commercial DVD playing apps look at region codes, VLC ignores
> them. VLC could choose to abide by these codes and put code in to stop
> the wrong region from playing, but the project chooses not to. Madwifi
> should do the same.
> Another comparison is the GPL kernel module debate. The kernel was
> made to prohibit access to certain symbols for programs which were not
> GPLd by checking the Module_License to see if it was equal to GPL.
> Linuxant got around this by setting the Module_License to "GPL\0for
> files in the \"GPL\" directory; for others, only LICENSE file
> applies." The null character made this effectively "GPL" so the kernel
> loaded the proprietary modules as if they were GPL. Now, Linus
> Torvalds got a bunch of patches to fix this. However, his response was
> this: "I'd prefer not to do that. Since they want to circumvent this,
> almost anything we want to do is a waste of time." He too offered a
> patch, adding to it the byline, "Arms race forces bloat upon module
> users" . This is the philosophy that madwifi needs to abide by.
> Don't protect your code from hackers, or people wanting to abuse it.
> Developers should just focus on making the best Linux Atheros driver
> possible, and not worry themselves with providing protection against
> purposefully misusing the software.
> -- Mike
>  http://kerneltrap.org/node/2991
> On 9/20/07, Michael Renzmann <mrenzmann@...> wrote:
>> Hi all.
>> We, the MadWifi team, announce our decision to move away from the
>> binary-only HAL and change the focus of our future development towards
>> ath5k , a completely free (as in freedom) driver which will eventually
>> become an integral part of the Linux kernel. We encourage all interested
>> developers to join us and contribute to our efforts.
>> For those who are not familiar with the concept, the proprietary
>> Abstraction Layer" (HAL)  was designed as compromise to allow at least
>> one Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) wireless driver component.
>> many other wireless devices Atheros chipsets can use a wide range of
>> frequencies and the host software can control many aspects of the radio.
>> Regulatory agencies all over the world have laws which restrict the use
>> the wireless spectrum to certain frequency bands under specific
>> transmission power levels. These laws drive wireless manufacturers to
>> up with solutions to enforce compliance with the wide array of regulatory
>> agencies. The binary HAL is a wrapper around all chipset registers, and
>> all direct hardware access is routed through it. This approach ensures
>> that non-compliant settings are not applied to the radio, while allowing
>> the open source part of the driver to interact with the chipset in a
>> permissive manner.
>> We understand Atheros' reasons for introducing the HAL and distributing
>> in binary form only, and we supported it. But this decision forced us to
>> deal with a black box that we could neither fix nor fully understand - a
>> major issue for a free software project. This prevented MadWifi from
>> appearing in many Linux distributions. Because of the proprietary HAL and
>> since the MadWifi driver also did not make use of the new mac80211 layer
>> in Linux it has been impossible for it to become part of the Linux
>> It's also been clear to us that the "security through obscurity" approach
>> won't work to protect the hardware against unlawful use. Regardless, we
>> kept working on MadWifi as no acceptable alternative existed.
>> This situation has changed.
>> A driver for Atheros wireless cards is available in OpenBSD that talks
>> directly to the hardware, based on reverse engineering efforts done by
>> Reyk Floeter. Relevant parts of the driver have been ported to Linux by
>> Nick Kossifidis to start OpenHAL , a free (as in freedom) replacement
>> of the proprietary HAL. Claims that the OpenBSD driver (and thus also
>> OpenHAL) contains stolen code slowed down the OpenHAL efforts but finally
>> could be voided. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) , with the
>> of Atheros, performed a thorough code review and concluded "that OpenHAL
>> does not infringe copyrights held by Atheros" . In other words, the
>> is clear now for the inclusion of an OpenHAL-based driver into the Linux
>> Another important development is the work on a "central regulatory domain
>> agent". It aims to ensure compliance with the regulatory constraints and
>> rules based on the current location of the user. The agent and its
>> integration with the kernel will allow wireless LAN drivers to enforce
>> local regulations without requiring non-free software for that task. This
>> work will soon be published for merging with the upstream kernel.
>> We now see a road to move away from the binary-only HAL; it's no
>> comfortable road, however, and thus requires full concentration of our
>> resources to finally reach the ultimate goal of getting a free driver for
>> Atheros devices into the Linux kernel. This free driver is called ath5k,
>> and the work on it has already been started. We are also in contact with
>> Atheros to encourage them to support these efforts.
>> To underline our decision and commitment to ath5k we now declare MadWifi
>> "legacy.". In the long run ath5k will replace the MadWifi driver. For the
>> time being MadWifi will still be supported, bugs will get fixed and HAL
>> updates will be applied where possible. But it becomes unlikely that
>> see new features or go through major changes on that codebase. The only
>> exception to this is the work spent on improved support for Dynamic
>> Frequency Selection (DFS) , which is used for avoiding interference
>> with radars.
>> Users who need stable and solid WLAN support for their Linux computers
>> should stick with MadWifi for now. Interested parties are welcome to try
>> ath5k and any constructive feedback is highly appreciated.
>> We encourage developers to contribute  to the free driver efforts -
>> it's still a long way before we reach the goal of a truly free Atheros
>> driver for Linux, and every helping hand is welcome.
>> If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Thanks for listening.
>> -- The MadWifi Team
>>  http://madwifi.org/wiki/About/ath5k
>>  http://madwifi.org/wiki/About/HAL
>>  http://madwifi.org/wiki/About/OpenHAL
>>  http://softwarefreedom.org/
>>  http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2007/jul/31/openhal/
>>  http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/ath5k#Hackingath5k
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