OpenBSD Journal

Unofficial Intel Wireless 2100/2200BG/2915ABG drivers for OpenBSD

Contributed by grey on from the firmware still isn't free so don't expect this to go very far dept.

Thanks to JOS for writing in with the following:

Damien Bergamini has released drivers for the Intel 2100/2200BG/2915ABG Wireless network cards for OpenBSD.

Damien writes:

This project aims at supporting the Intel® PRO/Wireless 2100/2200BG/2915ABG network adapters (core components of Intel® Centrino? technology) under *BSD. The drivers are distributed under the terms of the BSD License. It is a work in progress. See the following section for more information about the project latest developments. You may have noticed that the Linux drivers developed by Intel® are under GPL and the ipw and iwi drivers are not. The ipw and iwi drivers are NOT ports of the Linux drivers but are complete rewritings (from scratch). Absolutely no code has been taken from Intel® which does not support neither officially nor unofficially these drivers in any way.

The undeadly editors would like to point out the following quote from Damien's site before people get too excited:

The adapter can't do anything before it has received its firmware. For licensing reasons, the firmware images are not shipped with the iwi driver. They are distributed as a separate package.

Our readers should be aware that unless the licensing of Intel's firmware changes, it is unlikely that this driver will be included in OpenBSD.

Please don't complain to OpenBSD developers or Damien about Intel's choice of licensing on this issue. Make your voices heard to the vendor. Though I believe the address was established for support of the em(4) driver, it might be worth writing to let them know the community's thoughts on this. If anyone has a better contact address, feel free to post it as a comment and we'll update the article.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Alex Holst ( on

    Anyone aware of any relevant names, email addresses or phone numbers of individuals at Intel that might be able to change the license on this?

  2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    I think this is a great thing. Not everything must immediately be included in the base to advance the wireless capabilities of OpenBSD. Somehow the dam needs to crack, then leak, before the industry changes.

  3. By JOS ( on

    The binary component of this driver is limited to the firmware that is uploaded to the card. To me this is about the same as the firmware ROM's on lots of other cards, or the BIOS chip on the motherboard.

    The Intel license isn't that restrictive, by the way. As far as I understand it, you are allowed to copy and redistribute the firmware as you like, as long as you do not use it on anything other than a Intel wireless card. On the other hand, Intel reserves the right to terminate the license at any time.

    Many moons ago, the base install of OpenBSD downloaded some extra (crypto) libraries during installation because they could not be distributed with the base install. I don't think that OpenBSD should go back to this kind of tricks. Sticking to your principles is a good thing, even if this means that you don't support all hardware in the base install.

    I can live with the restrictions of the Intel license when I use it on my laptop. If I had to support 1000+ gateways with wireless cards, I would think twice before using it.

    The nice thing is that everyone can make his own decision. The driver is available if you need or want it, but you don't *have* to use it as it is not part of the base operating system.

  4. By djm@ ( on

    If you want to write to Intel about making their firmware distributable, then you may want to point them to an example of an acceptable license. There are a couple of firmware blobs in the tree already, a good one to follow would be the ISP firmware. Remember, we don't care about the source to the firmware, just the right to distribute it in the kernel under a free license.

  5. By Otto Moerbeek ( on http:/./

    The driver has been committed to the tree. To quote Theo:
    ...except Intel will not let us put a little dinky firmware flat file
    into OpenBSD.  So OpenBSD is ready for Intel whenever they are.
    Are you a consumer?  Do you want to see this changed -- contact and tell him how you feel about this.  He is
    likely someone who cannot do anything about it, though.  If anyone can
    work up or down the chain around his department and get me contact
    information for various people, I will compile and later publish such
    a list.  Go do it people -- this is how things will change.  Get me
    email addresses and phone numbers.
    Read the whole commit message here.

    Please help in getting this resolved.

    1. By Daniel Melameth ( on

      [I] look forward to the list... as should everyone else that would like to stop sticking a wireless PC card in their OpenBSD laptops (that have Intel "Centrino" built in).

      1. By djm@ ( on

        That "built-in" is usually just a mini-pci card than can be easily replaced. I swapped the Atheros card that came with my laptop for a prism 2.5

        1. By Darren Melameth ( on

          Hmmm, I never even thought of that--thanks. I just might take this laptop apart this weekend and look.

            1. By jsg ( on

              ports/misc/tpwireless/ in -current does this


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