Qualcomm Atheros - Open Source

Open Source

In the free software community, Atheros had been known for not releasing the appropriate documentation that would allow free software developers to write open-source drivers to support Atheros wireless devices without resorting to reverse-engineering. As a result, OSS support for Atheros hardware was rather limited. However, there were some completely free open-source drivers written via reverse-engineering techniques. For example, Reyk Floeter of the OpenBSD project reversed-engineered the HAL-module of the ath driver found on FreeBSD and provided a completely free driver for Atheros devices. Additionally, Nick Kossifidis of the MadWiFi project based on Floeter's work started madwifi-old-openhal branch in February 2006 in order to create a free driver for Linux. Kossifidis performed some further reverse engineering to add support for most ar5k chips and made various code improvements. His code made it to ath5k, a driver for Atheros chips that is now included in the Linux kernel.

Atheros has often been featured in OpenBSD's theme songs that relate to the ongoing efforts of freeing non-free devices.

In July 2008 Atheros decided to change policy and hired two key Linux wireless developers, Jouni Malinen (of HostAP fame) and Luis Rodriguez, and released an open-source Linux driver for their 802.11n devices. Atheros also released some source from their binary HAL under ISC license to help the community add support for their abg chips. Atheros has been actively contributing towards the ath9k driver in Linux, with support for all current 802.11n chipsets. Atheros has also been providing documentation and assistance to the FreeBSD community to enable updated support for 802.11n chipsets in FreeBSD-9.0 and FreeBSD-HEAD.

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