[nycbug-talk] BSD Embedded Solutions for Commodity Home Routers

Miles Nordin carton at Ivy.NET
Fri Aug 10 18:28:34 EDT 2007

>>>>> "il" == Isaac Levy <ike at lesmuug.org> writes:

    il> Basically, all the "Linksys-hack" projects are aimed at
    il> hardware which has to be reverse-engineered.  The WRT54G is
    il> *not* an open hardware platform, and running anything other
    il> than the Linksys- supplied hardware is not supported.


 (1) maybe it's sort-of not ``open.''  But because of the GPL, you do
     get documentation for it in the form of source code, except when
     Linksys and other vendors violate the GPL.

     The missing piece is the Broadcom wireless driver, which does
     have to be reverse-engineered, thanks to Linus's rather generous
     (to proprietary hardware manufacturers) interpretation of the GPL
     w.r.t. kernel modules.  The old OpenWRT just includes the
     original binary module.  I think the new 2.6-based OpenWRT may
     have the reverse-engineered GPL Broadcom driver.

 (2) it is absolutely not true that OpenWRT runs only on Linksys.
     They run on a huge list of these half-closed <$100
     extremely-low-wattage platforms.  They also run on open
     Soekris-like platforms like the ones sold by magicbox.pl.

 (3) In spite of the fact they're completely ``open'', BSD doesn't run
     on magicbox.pl hardware, either.  Why?  BSD has no FLASH-friendly
     filesystem (you have to use CF, which is too expensive and
     power-hungry for these platforms), and it also seems to be
     buggier than Linux on not-i386, since all this Soekris pfsense
     u.s.w. stuff you will find is all i386-only.

     I'm no Linux zealot.  I'm not trying to maintain any Linux-based
     firewalls any time soon.  It looks like a disaster to me.  But I
     really don't think you can call this situation anything but a
     missing feature for our camp.  Linksys is open ``enough'' for a
     decent port, and in the 'L' linux-friendly version of their
     router they have delivered a very consistent platform over many
     years.  And magicbox.pl is truly open as are many other similar
     low-cost embedded boards.  but we don't have the FLASH
     filesystem, so we can't run on embedded devices with small NOR
     FLASH chips, except as a lame stateless kernel-and-FFSramdisk
     image.  we need a CF card.
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