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

Ray Lai nycbug at cyth.net
Fri Aug 10 19:08:29 EDT 2007

On Fri, Aug 10, 2007 at 06:28:34PM -0400, Miles Nordin wrote:
> >>>>> "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.
> well,
>  (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.

Source code is no replacement for documentation.  How would you
extend the software once it's no longer maintained by the vender?
How would you know if something is a bug or a feature in the original

>      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.

I think the criticism is on the hardware, not OpenWRT, but correct
me if I'm wrong Ike. =)

>  (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.

Define "buggier than Linux on not-i386".

>      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.

If there is any hardware documentation on magicbox.pl I cannot find


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