Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-testing (87 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-testing] installation report
  • From: Larry Finger <Larry.Finger@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 11:15:40 -0500
  • Message-id: <4AC232AC.8030108@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Alberto Passalacqua wrote:

because that's not what you need for all the cards. Broadcom provides
the Linux STA drivers
( ), which offer
excellent functionality on the supported models and are packaged in

I have heard mixed reports on the excellence of the functionality.
Some users claim that the driver is constantly dropping out. Their
usage of their own MAC layer, which gets limited testing, is likely
the reason.

Ubuntu tool automatically detects if you need them, and retrieves them
from a repository. It has been discussed in the past if it was possible
to have them included or provided in some other way than unofficial
repositories on openSUSE, and the answer was that it is not possible due
to legal concerns (violation of the kernel licence according to what
Novell kernel developers said).

The Broadcom wl driver contains a binary blob that is not under GPL
license. As a result, it cannot be included in openSUSE. In addition,
it taints the kernel, which precludes its usage by many of us who
routinely test kernels.

I do not know how Ubuntu manages the problem, but Dell provides the same
drivers in binary form on the Dell Mini 9 and on other laptops sold with
ubuntu and the broadcom cards, for example. It would be interesting to
have a deeper insight in what/how they do it. From the licence in the
drivers it seems to it *can* be redistributed if the conditions written
there are respected.

Yes, the wl driver can be redistributed as long as you are willing to
accept their conditions, and the consequences.

The open-source driver for BCM43xx devices will always be trying to
catch up. From Broadcom's release of a new model, there will be a
period of at least two years while the reverse engineering is done and
a driver is written. At the moment, I'm working on the specifications
for the 802.11n devices while the coders are implementing the specs
for low-power 802.11b/g models.

Clearly, the wl driver is not optimal, but it is necessary in some
instances. My primary goal is to eliminate that need; however, we do
need to make it as simple as possible for openSUSE users to get a
working wireless driver for their BCM43xx cards. Until the open-source
firmware is available, the licensing parameters will require a working
Internet connection for any automatic solution, but I would like to
see something like Ubuntu's installation script. This code should
detect the BCM43xx, determine its identity, and select the appropriate
action. If the device is supported by b43/b43legacy, then the firmware
should be installed, otherwise the Broadcom wl driver should be
installed. Beginners have enough trouble configuring their wireless
devices without having to fight to get a working driver loaded.

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