C3Subtitles: 32c3: Wireless Drivers: Freedom considered harmful?

Wireless Drivers: Freedom considered harmful?

An OpenWrt perspective on the development of Linux 802.11 support

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A review/rant about the progress that free software wireless drivers (especially on Linux) have made over the recent years, as well as the current challenges that driver developers (and users) are facing.

Many users of free software have realized that 802.11 wireless chipsets can be used in more ways than simply making their laptop connect to their home AP or hotspot.

Many people are replacing their router firmware with OpenWrt to have a better AP with free software drivers. Mesh network communities like Freifunk are building decentralized network infrastructure, which is also used to provide internet access to refugees in Germany. There are countless other examples of useful and innovative projects that are enabled by having free software wireless drivers.

However, the sad reality is that the hardware choices for these kinds of innovative projects are very limited, not because of limitations in the actual hardware, but because of the lack of datasheets, information, reference source code, developer time, etc.

In this talk, I will show how we got the state of Linux wireless support to the point where it is now, and I will rant viciously about what's holding us back.

I have been working on wireless drivers for a few years now, and as a contractor for chipset manufacturers, I was given a glimpse into the maze of insanities that is holding back progress significantly.

But no matter how much bureaucracy, lame excuses, NDA crap and other weird things vendors (and now also the FCC) throw at us, there is still hope for a better future...

Talk ID
Hall G
6 p.m.
Hardware & Making
Type of
Felix Fietkau
Talk Slug & media link
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English: Transcribed until

Last revision: 4 months ago