[conspire] Ah, it's an Atheros-based PCI card
rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Sep 2 14:43:43 PDT 2005
----- Forwarded message from Adam Cozzette <mystagor at sbcglobal.net> -----
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005 20:52:02 -0700 (PDT)
From: Adam Cozzette <mystagor at sbcglobal.net>
To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Re: RSVP
Ok, sorry for not mentioning the model number and stuff before. It is a Netgear and here is the model number:
Alrighty then, I'll be sure to think about choosing a distro before I see you in person...its just that choosing a distro is for me, like trying to choose a spaceship that I don't know how to fly yet...heh, and my initial reaction was that I didn't want a little wimpy spaceship for "newcomers" : ). But you're right, I'll take a closer look.
And ok, I see what you mean about the Java stuff. And if the network card works as it should then I imagine I can just download the JDK from the Sun website...although I'm not sure how compatible the JDK would be across the various different distributions...
Well thanks again, and see ya later.
----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2005 14:42:38 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: Adam Cozzette <mystagor at sbcglobal.net>
Subject: Re: RSVP
Quoting Adam Cozzette (mystagor at sbcglobal.net):
> Ok, sorry for not mentioning the model number and stuff before. It is
> a Netgear and here is the model number:
Thank you. (Pause for some more googling.)
Hmm, it's a PCI card (which is good news; removes possible USB headaches).
It's said to use an Atheros chipset -- _not_ good news. (Looking some
I say "not good news" because Atheros is one of a number of chipset
manufacturers who have been notably non-cooperative with the Linux
driver-coding community: They refuse to give us sample source code and
technical specifications except under NDA, for example. (As should be
obvious, you can't develop and release a driver under an open-source
operating system using knowledge you received under a non-disclosure
agreement without violating that agreement.)
Ah, a different site claims it uses an Atheros AR5213 chipset.
Some further googling brings up this Debian mailing list post:
...which in turn links to this informational page:
...which details use of the "madwifi" driver set for this card.
To clarify, the "madwifi" project uses a hardware-vendor-provided
proprietary driver core, available in binary-only, and wraps around it
an open-source shim layer of software that actually interfaces to the
Linux kernel. The page that talks about "compiling madwifi" actually
means compiling the wrapper.
I stress this because a lot of people, seeing that "madwifi source code"
is available, leap to the erroneous conclusion that it's an open-source
software project. In fact, pretty much all of the "smarts" of madwifi
is hidden in the "Hardware Abstraction Layer" (HAL) core binary piece,
and the source-code pieces are just glue.
That means that madwifi suffers the long-term disadvantage of
binary-only code of all sorts: It cannot be debugged or maintained by
the larger Linux community, and thus may afflict your system with
stealth bugs, and over time will probably cease to be usable as hardware
and the kernel's software interfaces evolve. Also, though I'm not
certain about this, I imagine that many Linux distributions do not
include it. It would for those distributions be a post-installation
It's disappointing that the madwifi project isn't more up-front about
their being hostage to a binary-only HAL core library to which they have
no developer access: I see nothing on their Web pages that mentions the
fact. Unfortunately, this is all too common among proprietary software
projects with a Linux presence. In fairness, their perspective is
probably that lack of community control and hidden proprietary
restrictions are an everyday thing for _them_, so they saw no reason to
> Alrighty then, I'll be sure to think about choosing a distro before I
> see you in person...its just that choosing a distro is for me, like
> trying to choose a spaceship that I don't know how to fly yet...heh,
> and my initial reaction was that I didn't want a little wimpy
> spaceship for "newcomers" : ). But you're right, I'll take a closer
Unfortunately, the whole field is rife with people's personal
hobbyhorses and odd perspectives, which of course they don't often
properly disclose. It's generally best that you gather some opinions
and make up your own mind.
> And ok, I see what you mean about the Java stuff. And if the network
> card works as it should then I imagine I can just download the JDK
> from the Sun website...although I'm not sure how compatible the JDK
> would be across the various different distributions...
My understanding is that it's been quite reliable across a broad range
of x86 distributions. (Note that I'm not including x86_64 distributions
in that, e.g., distros for AMD64/Opteron or Intel EM64T.)
I hope your PC includes some sort of ethernet card, in addition to the
wireless card. However, if not, we have plenty that you are welcome to
borrow in order to connect to our LAN and thus to the Internet.
> Well thanks again, and see ya later.
Looking forward to.
----- End forwarded message -----
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