Friday, September 10th, 2010 at 9:38am

Broadcom Open Sources Popular Wifi Drivers

Posted by Jordan Erickson

It came as an incredibly pleasant surprise to me to see that Broadcom, who makes some of the most popular wireless networking chipsets in the world, has open sourced their driver software. This is a big win for the open source community as we will now be able to drastically improve wireless adapter functionality and stability on GNU/Linux and other platforms.

From Broadcom announcement: “Broadcom would like to announce the initial release of a fully-open Linux driver for it’s latest generation of 11n chipsets. The driver, while still a work in progress, is released as full source and uses the native mac80211 stack. It supports multiple current chips (BCM4313, BCM43224, BCM43225) as well as providing a framework for supporting additional chips in the future, including mac80211-aware embedded chips.”

“Open sourcing” software is an increasingly popular option for hardware vendors as it allows a global community of developers, both hardware and software, to learn and improve upon existing technology in an open fashion. Many hardware developers are still weary of releasing the underlying code that makes their hardware work in fear that someone will steal their intellectual property and create a better version to sell – or otherwise simply to capitalize on their intellectual property, often guarded closely by patents and heavily paid lawyers. Many companies, however, are starting to realize that open sourcing the software that allows the operating system to “talk” to the hardware itself allows for much better cross-platform compatibility as many more eyes are looking at the code, and usually willing to develop update patches and submit them back “upstream” (back to the original developers for inclusion in the official software).

Congratulations, Broadcom, the open source community applauds your efforts!

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