MadWifi HAL now open source
Sam Leffler, maintainer of the binary HAL used in MadWifi releases, announced last weekend that he was releasing the source code for the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) of the MadWifi Linux Wifi driver. It is now available under an ISC license via a subversion repository (svn web interface).
For a long time, MadWifi was the only Linux driver able to handle Atheros Wifi cards. A few weeks ago, Atheros released a HAL under the same license, to help develop the ath5k, IEEE 802.11a/b/g, Wifi driver, which some developers, including Atheros employee Luis R. Rodriguez, had ported from OpenBSD to Linux last year. Ath5k and the ath9k Draft-N WLAN driver, which dispense entirely with proprietary parts in favour of OpenHAL, have been part of the Linux kernel since versions 2.6.25 and 2.6.27 respectively. Before now, MadWifi used the manufacturer's proprietary HAL, which prevented direct access to the Wifi hardware. The developers of the MadWifi driver had tolerated this situation, although it meant that parts of the software project resembled a black box and could not be incorporated in the Linux kernel.
The release of the MadWifi HAL concludes the agreement between Leffler and Atheros which gave him access to information on the manufacturer's devices. All fixes and updates for new chips will be carried out by the developer community from now on. The published source code uses the Linux operating system as its reference platform. Potential developers can find out more on the ath5k-devel and ath9k-devel mailing lists; note that these lists are SSL secured with an unverifiable certificate and will require an exception be made in your browser.