madwifi is dead - long live rt2x00

04 Nov 2005 • 2 min read

OK, madwifi has been pissing me off. For quite some time, ever since I got the card really. The madwifi-driver ebuild at first was good and reliable. But for a while the quality has been degrading somewhat, especially as wpa_supplicant now requries specific madwifi headers. And the latest batch in portage isn't exactly compatible. I also downloaded a CVS snapshop and tried that out. Oh dear, bad mojo! They now require you to run a special tool to create a friggin wireless interface! What happend to hotplug? For example, I fully expect to insert a card, load the driver and there's the wireless interface waiting to be configured. But no, I have to tell it what sort of interface I want. Phooey! :(So the quest for something new! At first I wanted an Intel chipset based card, but 10 mins research shows they are laptop only - sucks! Then I find that RaLink rt2x00 cards have native linux drivers with no firmware required and they get full use of the kernel as the drivers are pure GPL. So I placed the order and got to work on an ebuild for the rt2x00 beta driver which is a new all singing all dancing driver for all rt2x00 chipsets. RaLink open-sourced all their drivers (rt2400, rt2500, and a USB one) and the new rt2x00 driver is a rewrite combining all three + the generic ieee80211 stack.Today I got my hardware - a pci and a pcmcia card. All working fine from my new ebuild.OK, there are a few caveats - SMP is broken, 4K stacks can't be enabled and low latency pre-emptive kernel don't work either (all I can live without). But the beta driver works. 8) It has a few issues, the most important one being the connectivity isn't quite there (it drops from time to time, but comes back automatically) and wpa_supplicant support is broken.I'm confident that this driver will shape up to be something good, it's already better than the prism54 driver and provided that they never go down the "need to use our tools" road like madwifi they'll do well 😃 Go and try it out!