DJWillis talks Wifi

June 24, 2009
Posted by: gruso

UPS might have the limelight this week, but last week’s hot topic (wifi, for the benefit of your goldfish) still deserves some love. Turns out that ain’t all bad either, as DJWillis tells us below. The first quote is taken from the comments in our previous wifi post. The second comes from the associated thread on GP32X.

… 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 😉 .

And then…

Anyway, got the driver side of things happy and playing nicely. The only real snag is on the SDIO communication side of things (timing issues I think) but I have been getting some helpful advice on that front so the plan is to sink a few hours into that over the weekend. Started to push a few simple patches upstream for things like chip ID’s so with any luck by the time the driver hits mainline the Pandora should ‘just work’ if I can nail all the SDIO bits.

Once I get things settled (hopefully) I want to have a play with trying to get hostapd going as I have some funky uses for a mobile access point in mind 😉

If anyone wants patches (or is familiar with the kernels SDIO stack) drop me a bell.



  1. glad to see progress! many thanks to djwillis for his hard work.

  2. Agreed, great explanation and update. Hopefully, the driver will be paired with a mainstream gui/systray app.

  3. Good idea on posting past news to allow all to remember the context

  4. Still the old game going on: Showing you the chocolate until you open your mouth. Then shoving you the veggies up your face until you’re crying. Now the chocolate is approaching again so we’ve all returned to smiling. I wonder what happens next? Will we finally taste the chocolate if we close our eyes for the XXth time???

  5. What game? The one where we ask for updates, then get updates, then bitch about the updates?

    Sorry to hear about your childhood though. Sounds awful.

  6. Any update is a good update.

  7. Agreed, glad to hear that there is hard QUALITY work going into my future toy :3

  8. @Anon
    but i love my vegetables

  9. Meh, if you really want the chocolate just install the rumored closed source driver yourself. Only problem is it’ll stunt your growth…

  10. i can only imagine what would have been happened, when the Pandora was released in november 2008. We wouldn’t have had a wifidrive until now… So better sort this out before launch.

  11. “Sorry to hear about your childhood though. Sounds awful.”

    I lol’d 🙂

  12. The thought of having no wifi for months would suck. Thankgod for all the delays. Never thought I’d say that:) Great job DjWillis 🙂

  13. @mcobit – Ah, but it’s the butterfly effect, If the Pandora had been released in November there would’ve been much more incentive to fix the wifi driver, and it would’ve been pursued more heavily than it has in this reality. Someone would’ve stepped up to the plate and taken one of the non-working drivers fixed it up into something workable well before now.

  14. Yay for Bob Copeland, he also did a lot of work for Rio Karma support on Linux. 🙂

  15. This sudden outpouring of news updates from OP is great. I hope they keep it up.

  16. You’re awesome DJWillis! You’ve just elevated yourself above DJ Jazzy Jeff.

  17. But still a little below DJ Abraham Lincoln.

  18. DJWillis what a hero.

  19. I wonder if the Nokia device (for which this driver was originally written) will beat the Pandora to consumers’ hands? Should be interesting to see…

  20. “If the Pandora had been released in November there would’ve been much more incentive to fix the wifi driver, and it would’ve been pursued more heavily than it has in this reality.”

    Of course, if the Pandora *had* been released in November, it would have had a case that didn’t fit properly, a stiff keyboard that you couldn’t type on properly, analog nubs with faulty firmware and a mainboard that was revised 3 more times after initial release…

  21. @Kagato – I disagree. If the banking issues hadn’t arisen the way they did. OpenPandora ltd, would’ve been flush with cash. And could’ve cheerfully churned out a bunch of prototypes very quickly. The analog nub manufacturer would have still been around to fix the firmware quickly and painlessly… I doubt however, that it would’ve actually seen daylight in November, but quite a few problems would’ve been avoided if the bank didn’t freak out.

  22. I bet in Bizarro-earth they are playing their Pandoras right now. Damn lucky alternative universe!

  23. @Newguy

    no they have pandora -2 and psQ

  24. And in another Bizarro-earth, the Pandora team is sitting on a tropical beach, sipping some kind of rum spiced drink and laughing at how stupid everyone was to just give them a couple million dollars on the promise to build a cool handheld device. Could always be worse. 🙂

  25. Thank you DJWillis for all your hard work over the years.

  26. @Kagato – If the Pandora was released in November I’m sure out of the 4000 preorders, somebody would have made a driver and we would probaly already have many games, emulators and good publicity for the Pandora.

  27. Damn GP32x forums have gone kaput again – anyone know why aside from silly upgrade message

  28. @rajtakhar: I dunno, it’s been pretty annoying. they’ve been down for about 2-3 days now and I haven’t seen a post here or in the OpenHandhelds forum… I hope it comes back soon, I need my fix…

  29. Aren’t only upbeat/positive articles allowed?

  30. Update from Warm n fluffy on OpenHandHelds:

    Well something obviously went wrong with the upgrade, so Hando is awaiting a response from Invasion’s tech support. It seems that when you try and view posts you just get a blank screen.

    As soon as that is sorted Hando will turn the boards back online.

    Sorry for the downtime guys.

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