I have to thank all involved in this list for the lively discussion
about the future of m0n0wall. I only use it on a small scale for
home, business, and exploring various aspects of BSD networking so I
will restrict my comments to areas where I have personal experience.
On Thu, 27 Oct 2005 22:04:46 -1000, you wrote:
>>2) Atheros support. While the concept of a vendor-supplied HAL makes
>>sense, Atheros really screwed it up by providing it in binary-only form
>>(for a pretty lame reason AIUI). If they had done it right - i.e.
>>providing the HAL as CPU- and OS-independent C source, then there would
>>have been no issue.
>I'm certain (as in, I've asked and gotten answers) that they would have
>prefered this path as well. It wasn't an option, due to the very simple
>fact that it is *trivial* to tune the Atheros chipset *way* out of the
>ISM (and U-NII) bands. This, in effect means that an "open HAL" would
>(not could, *would*) result in substantial interference issues with
>users of licensed spectrum. While I could detail the various license
>holders who could scream (and sue) over this, I will point out one very
>vocal set of "licensed" users who would pull every trick in the book the
>second an "open HAL" resulted in detectible interference: HAM Radio
>Operators (especially the ARRL). You see, the (nearly world-wide) 13cm
>band runs from 2304MHz to 2450Mhz.
I suspect Amateur Radio operators would view being able to retarget
inexpensive 802.11 equipment to their bands as an advantage instead of
a problem because it can be used in upgrading the various Amateur
digital networks currently in use. I used to be involved in both
packet radio and direction finding and we regularly tracked down stuck
transmitters and other interfering equipment. The HAMs tend to be an
independent bunch and are used to doing the legwork in solving these
types of problems. WiFi channels 2 through 6 are already in a band
where Amateur Radio is the primary user and coopting them as well as
the ARRL could do much to head off any conflicts.
I am not as familiar with the problem of FCC type acceptance for radio
equipment that can be readily modified except in how it affects use by
HAMs which has never been an issue in my experience. I do know that
manufacturers of 10 meter amplifiers design them to prevent their use
on 11 meters (CB radio) but even now, changing commercial equipment to
operate on the Amateur bands is a standard procedure.
Until I see a primary source for the FCC requiring Atheros to not
release specifications that could be used to write an open source
driver because of type acceptance, it is easier to believe that they,
like many other manufacturers, just use it as one of many excuses not
to release what they consider proprietary information.