Concerning Releasing Airport Extreme Source Code
This is the second set of my email dialogs with Broadcom concerning Free Software support (or lack thereof) for hardware they produced. I’ll let you decide if they are unco-operative. In the interest of keeping the correspondence in as pristine condition as possible, I’ve left them in WinTel email form, or lack of form. I’ve added a few editorial comments in red.
Broadcom is in the process of reviewing our linux support policy. As it stands now there are solutions on the market for linux users to use Broadcom equipment [Really? What viable alternatives are there? Read below for one that might have been viable if the manufacturers had complied with GPL obligations.]. And we do comply with all open-source regs [Well then release the source.]. However, to get open-source code you will have to go to the manufacture of the product [Don’t you make the Airport Extreme chipset?]. I’m sorry I am not familiar with the Apple product specifically, but I know that Linksys has post source for their Broadcom base wireless router [Are you suggesting that they passed the buck to yourselves or are you passing it to them? Regardless, here is an admittance that the Airport Extreme is based on Free Source code. It presumably refers to the Linksys WRT54G, which used Free Source code as per <http://www.ussg.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0309.3/0904.html>; The article mentioned details how Linksys has NOT complied with G.P.L. obligations and withholds static kernel module source code. This lack of co-operation has hindered the Free Source development of the code, and corresponding hardware support. To add to this fiasco, the creator of Snort alleges that the Broadcom 4300 series wireless nic violates his program because,
“they built in
> what appears to be an “anti-airsnort” defensive measure by stealing a
> function out of airsnort. Basically airsnort has an algorithm for
> recognizing a particular type of wireless packet and they stole the code
> to make sure they do not generate that type of packet”
We understand the request and the desire, it is a matter of priority. We are not a democracy, we are a corporation with an extremely popular product that has more requests than resources. We do not have a end user product and are also not geared for direct end user support [How hard is it to set one dedicated server with the source for others to download? The Free Source community can provide their own support once the code is in their hands. Else, if you can’t even put up one server for distribution, why not give the source once to the community and have them distribute it?]. Our customers do have end user product and do have direct end user support [So you’re saying that Apple could very well distribute the source, and that they are not any obligation to withhold code? I’ve emailed Apple to no avail. I get no responses from:
As already mentioned, I did not hear anything back except an automated email concerning being out of the office, and I believe that was on only one occasion out of two attempts to reach both Welch and Spektor. It seems obvious to me that Apple is not interested in supporting the wireless cards it sells further than its ‘propietary’ OS. It wants to fend off Free support for airport extreme support as long as it can.
(I got the contacts above from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2003/jan/07airportextreme.html)%5D.
We get many requests for linux drivers and open-source support. As I said we are reviewing our stance.
From: M Cepeda [mailto:#####@########]
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2004 1:01 AM
To: Daniel Crouch
Subject: RE: Feedback
The following uses your own “logic”.
Ultimately, we are your customers so your inference that you’re solely are
responsible to your customers demonstrates your company’s lack of
“customer service”. As far as owners of your hardware having only the
right to ask for drivers from the manufacturer’s of their products, are
you really suggesting that apple (despite that they are not a linux or
BSD supporter [darwin does not count, it is without proprietary gunck])
release drivers for linux and BSD?
I fail to see why apple would release drivers for platforms that they do
not pro-actively support. Moreover, I
don’t think broadcom would be happy if apple released the source for
your hardware, but if you say so. I’ll have to pass this email around the
net so if the source ever gets leaked there will be some legal backing.
Also, your putting the onus on the supplier of your hardware pretends to
clean your hands of responsibility by implying that you have no source
code to release. I highly doubt that your hardware in created without
your dev ofin-house drivers on various platforms before they are sold to
software companies such as apple. That would be too much of a gamble for
for such a profit driven organization such as yours.
I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.
On Wed, 18 Aug 2004, Daniel Crouch wrote:
> Hi Maurice,
> As the chipset supplier, Broadcom provides driver support to our
> customers–the manufacturers of wireless devices–that ultimately
> provide products to end customers, such as wireless LAN vendors, cable
> modem vendors, and notebook providers. It is up to these manufacturers
> to provide product-specific drivers and software support to their end
> customers. Please contact the manufacturer of your wireless device for
> their current drivers.
> Danny Crouch
> —–Original Message—–
> From: maurice [mailto:######@#####]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 1:25 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Feedback
> Name: maurice
> Email Address: ######@#####
> Feedback: I forgot to say that what I’m asking here for is that you
> release your source code for the airport extreme to the opensource
> community (linux and BSD community) in full.
> I want t let your company know that I do not appreciate that my new
> ibook with airport extreme has a propietary driver for airport
> extreme. You make the mistake of assuming that all ibook users will
> want to use OS X. Well, thet is not true. There is a growing umber
> of people that buy apple hardware simply for that, the hardware (not
> the software). Thus, in
> your drivers proprietary you do a dis-service (to put it mildly) to
> apple customers. In doing so you steal from us the opportunity to use
> our legally bought hardware in the manner that best suits us. This
> amounts to nothing less than a theft of our freedoms. You company’s
> modus operandi is, to my understanding, contrary to the rullings
> promoting interoperability that have occurred in and around MS’s
> accusation of establishing a monopoly (not to mention that our
> company’s model stifles the advancement/improvements through
> democratic exchange of ideas). Have this slear, monopolies are not
> democratic, in fact they are a threat to one’s democratic ideals and
> akin to a tyrant driven model.
‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’
This is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons License. All brands mentioned are properties of their respective owners. By reading this article, the reader forgoes any accountability of the writer. The reading of this article implies acceptance of the above stipulations. The author requires attribution –by full name and URL– and notification of republications.
This article may be outdated and of historical value.