Official blog: Transmitting more news

June 16, 2009

EvilDragon has posted some more information about the WiFi situation on the official blog:

Hiya, it’s EvilDragon again.

I got some more fresh news, and those are not about delaying or anything like that.

As you have all read, the only driver problem is WiFi. To put things short (and as they are pretty complicated), here is what was our problem:

There’s a closed-source driver available for the WiFi chip, but we didn’t at all want to use it (hey, we’re OPENPandora, not ClosedPandora). Then we found an OpenSource project for that WiFi chip – we used it and it worked well at the beginning (you might remember some WiFi testing videos).
But that driver was poorly coded – and it did have more and more problems. We can’t even get to work it anymore with the latest Angström image, only with our testing rootfs (which is good, as we do know that the hardware is fine.

Well, DJWillis wanted to take on the WiFi task – and it’s already looking really good. He found another driver which should work way better – and it already compiled with our latest kernel.

So basically, that WiFi issue MIGHT be solved faster than we thought. There’s still a lot of work needed, but this has been a HUGE progress.

I’ll keep you informed.




  1. So when is my bacon butty being cooked?

  2. This is important. The device which we will never ever ever receive will get working WiFi


  3. Excellent!

  4. Excellent, these are the kind of update we want on a regular basis. Just “this is where we are” kind of stuff.

  5. Oh, Kyo, you’re SO funny! I mean, really, I don’t know what this blog would be like without wit like that. We’d be lost.

    Keep it coming, man, keep it coming.

    On a more serious note, these updates from ED are great. It’s cool to know exactly what the wifi issues are at hand, and that they’re coming along to a workable solution.

  6. Well done Mr Willis and thanks for taking the time out to report the progress ED. Top update 🙂

  7. hopefully for future versions or later upgrades, they will pick a wifi chip that is compatible with the MADWiFi project… then they can support something that is already open sourced…

  8. Open Drivers FTW

  9. Wow, let me sumarize:

    – we googled for a wifi driver
    – we found one
    – we compiled it

    Good job, guys!

  10. Wifi > if it’s that easy, why don’t you help them…

  11. @WiFi: they probably had to do some porting to get it running on ARM.
    @ED: this is awesome. I learned more from this one post about the state of the WiFi than I did trolling the 15 pg WiFi thread. These are the kinds of updates I need to stick w/ the project without getting discouraged.

  12. Somehow, the whole wifi driver thing never seemed to worry me. I knew it would work out once some brave soul (Props to DJWills, BTW) took on the project. This is the great thing about opensource. The closed driver is, well, closed… Someone wrote an open driver, that well, doesn’t work… So someone else writes a better driver (Probably based on the bad driver), that well… works pretty good, and in someone’s loving hands will work great very shortly. I am sad however, that my hands just aren’t as loving as other peoples. I so want to contribute something.

  13. Thanks for all this work, guys. I’m incredibly excited for my pandora. I’m so glad I invested in this project.

  14. >There’s a closed-source driver available for the WiFi chip, but we didn’t at all want to use it (hey, we’re OPENPandora, not ClosedPandora).

    Respect, I’m proud of you guys.

  15. Yeah I remember the confusingly computer translated post on the german blog. This clears up a little, but thanks!

  16. These are the updates I want! Thankyou ED.

  17. Could everyone just use the close source driver until the open source one is working properly (if Pandora comes out before then)?

  18. @Frogboy

    it won’t change the pandora’s release date.

  19. In short:

    “We had a non working driver. Now we have two non working drivers.”

    And that is good news that deserve forum teaser.

  20. anonymous : “We had a non working driver. Now we have two non working drivers.”

    Wow, here is gratitude for you. People ask for updates and when an update appears, this dweeb comes with zinger.

    Much appreciate for the updates.

  21. So, if the open wifi drivers encounter a problem inititally or even down the road, it’s still possible to grab the .so (or whatever) and related files from the closed driver and modprobe it, yes? Sort of a bit of insurance to make sure we have working wifi no matter what?

  22. I don’t see why they couldn’t have just included the closed source WIFI drier in the firmware until the open source one was ready; add it the first update.

  23. Many thanks for the update ED, this is VERY much appreciated.

    DJWills ta twice – once for taking the job on, the other for being willing to stand up and be counted. Personally I find it encouraging to know that someone specific is looking at the problem rather than a nebulous “it’s open source, it’ll work in the end” 🙂

  24. Evening All,

    “I don’t see why they couldn’t have just included the closed source WIFI drier in the firmware until the open source one was ready; add it the first update.”

    I’ll elaborate sometime on that but lets just say that is not a viable option.

    Anyway, we actually have 2 open source options so I’ll give people a little background.

    One is the TI WiLink 4 based ‘partial’ driver that was opened as part of the Google Android G1 release.

    This driver is unfortunately a mess and really has no place in a modern system (ancient design architecture, lots of semi-bespoke shims, some really nasty bugs etc.).

    We can use this driver if you don’t mind setting it up from one clunky user space app that crashes a lot and lacks solid support for things like WEP/WPA etc. – Really this driver is only of use for hardware validation not real use from users. Even after I hacked in Wireless Extensions support (yep, the driver is THAT old) it’s still not a driver I would want to use (sorry but I hate lots of nasty random mem leaks and errors).

    The next open option is the WL12xx driver written by Kalle Valo of Nokia. This is a nice modern driver (MAC80211) and is already in Wireless-Testing (as of a few days ago) and on its way to mainline.

    This driver was SPI only but a gent by the name of Bob Copeland added the start of SDIO support and we are working off that base to bring the driver up on the Pandora so we have a nice solid mainline driver to use that is actively developed, supports the Pandora out of the gate, and is easy to maintain.

    As of now I have the WL2151 firmware loading on the Pandora with the new driver and lots of nice signs of life but the work is a little way away from passing traffic 😉 (the Linux SDIO stack is causing me pain).

    Not sure if that counts as an update ;).


    John Willis

  25. Cheers for the info DJ.

    “the Linux SDIO stack is causing me pain”- I thought they had just redone all that stack to offer better support etc.? Never mind, hope you find your way through it all dude.

    Thanks for all the great work 🙂

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