HAL must die!

Daniel Staal DStaal at usa.net
Fri Mar 18 00:27:34 UTC 2011

--As of March 17, 2011 7:48:58 PM -0400, Jerry is alleged to have said:

>> >
>> > I have two Linksys Wireless-N PCI cards in front of me that work
>> > fine on a Windows platform. FreeBSD doesn't even have a driver for
>> > them, thereby rendering them useless. I suppose that is Microsoft's
>> > fault too.
>> No, not really.  It's more the fault of the hardware manufacturer.
> Chad, up until this point I had taken your response seriously. In fact,
> I thought it was well presented. Then, you went and blew it. You fell
> into that trap that is all to prevalent in the open-source community,
> and especially odious with the *BSDs. That being the "blame the
> manufacturer" banner. If at first it doesn't work, blame the
> manufacturer. Strangely enough, those two Wireless-N cards work in
> Windows from at least XP forward (no surprise there), but they also
> work with Ubuntu from what I have read on their forums. I also believe
> that Linux supports the chip, although I don't have the time or
> ambition to check it out right now. I do remember checking over a year
> ago, and a driver was suppose to be available. BSD is notorious for
> bringing up the rear with its offerings of drivers. It is just easier
> to blame someone else I suppose. I know you are now going say that the
> hardware manufacturer should be responsible for the driver. I totally
> disagree. There is no way that a manufacturer can reasonably be expected
> to product a driver for the extremely fragmented open-source
> community. Look how much trouble nVidia had getting 64 bit drivers
> into FreeBSD. You cannot even get the community to agree on a
> replacement for HAL. They aim for the biggest target, linux and
> basically leave the rest to their own devices. You can blame the
> open-source community in general and *BSD in particular for that
> problem. Even if they did come to some consensus, they would end up in a
> pissing contest over the license.

--As for the rest, it is mine.

Given that he's answering off the cuff as it were, and knows absolutely 
nothing about the cards...  The manufacturer is a decent random guess as to 
who's fault it is.  It's not Microsoft's, it might be the hardware 
manufacturer's, or it might be the FreeBSD team's.  The FreeBSD team 
generally does a good job at trying to get drivers for everything it can, 
so there is slightly more chance that a random card doesn't work because of 
the manufacturer than because of the FreeBSD team.

The additional knowledge that Linux supports them means the manufacturer 
isn't totally closed to supporting Open-source software, but tells us 
nothing beyond that.  Linux's support may be by way of a binary blob from 
Linksys, which doesn't help FreeBSD at all.  The cards would still need to 
be reverse-engineered from scratch.

If the manufacturer releases some technical documents on how to talk to the 
cards, that's a start at helping people write drivers.  Even if they do 
nothing else.

But chewing out Chad because he makes the guess that two cards he knows 
nothing about are not supported because the manufacturer hasn't supplied 
the support to make them supported (which they probably have on at least 
Windows, if not Linux as well) is just blaming him for not being able to 
read your mind about hardware you have in hand.

Daniel T. Staal

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