Who says reverse engineering takes place only in China? More than two years ago a group was formed to reverse engineer the Broadcom WLAN chipsets to provide Linux drivers. This chipset is used by many OEMs, among them Apple's AirPort Extreme in PowerBooks and iBooks, Linksys' WAP and WRT series of consumer grade wireless routers, different laptops from Acer, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, and others, and many more external and internal devices, including CardBus cards.
That reverse engineering work has now reached its first milestone with a free (GPL2 or later) Linux driver for a variety of these chipsets. Currently, only infrastructure and monitor modes are supported, but the chipset has advanced functionality for AP and ad-hoc modes which will be supported in the future, along with encryption and power-save features. Work is also being done to support plain 802.11b and also 802.11a chipsets, but progress has stalled because no product was made available to the developers.
For more on the free Linux drivers:
- see this LinuxElectrons report
- see this document for URLs of chip and driver specs (pdf)
- and free (GPL2 or later) Linux driver for a variety of chipsets
- also see the Web site of the reverse engineering group