Advisory Against WiFi Drivers in Linux Staging Tree

Nov 23, 2009

Dan Williams, Red Hat collaborator and NetworkManager developer, might be upset but doesn't let it get to him. In the GNOME blog, he advises "just say no" to WiFi drivers in the linux-staging tree and recommends changes.

The reason for Williams's concern is that apparently none of the WiFi drivers in the linux-staging tree will detect access points with hidden SSIDs, partly because they don't set the IW_SCAN_CAPA_ESSID capability bit. Plus the popular Ralink drivers found in many netbooks don't have SSID scanning capability at all in staging.

Just a reminder: the linux-staging tree originally came into being to store drivers in the early stages of developent, whereby developers and vendors could work on them in peace. However, many distributors actually have been delivering these drivers.

Williams complains in his blog that he had added the IW_SCAN_CAPA_ESSID capability patch to wireless extensions two years ago and no one seems to have worked with the community to include the patch.

He describes the two kinds of staging drivers quite vividly: "a) old dried gum from under the cafeteria table (drivers with a future), and (b) fresh vomit from the hung-over kid in your math class (those without a future)." Drivers without a future include are the Ralink drivers rt2860, rt2870, rt3070, rt3090, wlan-ng, vt665x that are still based on forks of the old ieee80211stack.

Williams recommends working with the drivers "with a future," which use the kernel's mac80211 stack (such as the rtx00 drivers), and leave the old drivers alone. There are just too few developers, he says, and priorities must be set. In the former case developers might have to wait six months to get a decent wireless driver, but then will get great software, with power-saving, background scanning and other modern functions.

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Comments

  • Backwards

    I think you have a) and b) 's future prospects backwards.
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