[conspire] "madwifi" is proprietary sludge (was: driver)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Jun 27 19:42:55 PDT 2006

Quoting Daniel Gimpelevich (daniel at gimpelevich.san-francisco.ca.us):

> Seems to me you've just answered your own question. There are very
> obviously two stages in the status of hardware whose manufacturers are
> less than cooperative, such as Intel and Atheros:
> 1) No open-source drivers in existence.
> 2) Existence of open-source drivers developed to support the hardware.
> Some hardware (especially printers) will never reach stage 2, but
> getting hardware owners to exchange their stage 1 hardware for stage 2
> stuff only serves to homogenize hardware markets and discourage
> open-source driver development efforts like the ipw2200 driver you now
> enjoy.

To the contrary:  It drives down the value of Stage 1 hardware, improves
the value of State 2 hardware, and thereby helps encourage the
development of better (and sooner-available) open source drivers.

Moreover and more immediately useful, it helps get the word out that
such hardware is bet avoided in favour of better-supported alternative
hardware.  I saw this in person at $FIRM, a leading Linux hardware firm
where I once worked (and which maintained a then-popular variant of Red
Hat Linux): Adaptec, Inc., in a rather alarmed reaction to their steeply
falling sales to the mushrooming Linux server industry, sent over a team
of engineers around year 2000 to $FIRM to get assistance in studying how
best to quickly help the open source community with better drivers for
their SCSI HBAs.  Why?  Because Buslogic (and Mylex) _had_ been
cooperating, with the result that drivers for those alternative HBAs
were better written, and tiny Buslogic were beating the pants off
industry giant Adaptec within the Linux hardware business segment --
building brand loyalty and recognition, as they went.

It took a couple of years for Adaptec to notice the trend -- and they
were _very_ eager to correct it, once they did.

Why the slowness of this market effect with WiFi chipsets?  Probably
because there's fewer people among the latter market as a whole willing
to vote with their feet, and too many unwary people who buy first and
research later.

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