On Oct 4, 2006, at 7:46 PM, Constantine A. Murenin wrote:
My acquaintance with Unix started with FreeBSD, which I used for quite
a while before discovering OpenBSD. I now mostly use OpenBSD, and I
was wondering of how many FreeBSD users are aware about the licensing
restrictions of Intel Pro Wireless family of wireless adapters?

I would imagine that all FreeBSD users who are using the Intel Pro Wireless adaptors are familiar with the license, given that they have to agree to the license in order to get the adaptor working. Even someone like me who doesn't have one is aware of the license.

Why are none of the manual pages of FreeBSD say anything about why
Intel Wireless devices do not work by default?


The manpages you've linked to explicitly state:

This driver requires firmware to be loaded before it will work. You need to obtain ipwcontrol(8) from the IPW web page listed below to accomplish
     loading the firmware before ifconfig(8) will work.

Is there some part of this which is unclear to you, Constantine?

If you are curious as to why things are the way they are, I suggest
that you check the problems that are described in the misc@openbsd.org
mailing list, and contact Intel people and say what you think about
their user-unfriendly policy in regards to Intel Pro Wireless
firmwares, which are REQUIRED to be loaded from the OS before the
device functions, i.e. the OS developers must be allowed to freely
distribute the firmware in order for the devices to work

There's no need to be curious about the matter; the Intel Pro Wireless adaptors, like many other brands of wireless adaptors, use a software-controlled radio which is capable of broadcasting at higher power levels and/or at frequencies outside of those allocated for 802.11 connectivity for specific regulatory domains. The US FCC, along with other regulatory agencies in Europe such as ETSI and elsewhere, require that end-users not have completely open access to these radios to prevent problems from deliberate misuse such as interference with other frequency bands.

This isn't a matter of choice on Intel's part; if you want this situation to change, you're going to have to obtain changes in the radio-frequency laws and policies in the US and a number of other countries first.

Again, is there some part of this that is unclear or which you fail to understand?

For some recent information about Intel being an Open Source Fraud,
see http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=openbsd- misc&m=115960734026283&w=2.

The firmware license for these devices has never been submitted to the OSI board for approval as an Open Source license, and I have never seen Intel claim that this license is an Open Source license.

It might suit OpenBSD's advocacy purposes to deliberately misrepresent Intel's position, but doing so is unfair and is not especially helpful to the FreeBSD community, which does have somewhat decent relations with vendors like Intel, Lucent, Aironet, Broadcomm, and so forth.

As to the point raised above, the firmware license actually does permit an individual user, including an OS developer, to copy and redistribute the software to others, so long as the recepient agrees to the license terms:

"LICENSE. You may copy and use the Software, subject to these conditions: 1. This Software is licensed for use only in conjunction with Intel component products. Use of the Software in conjunction with non-Intel component
   products is not licensed hereunder.
2. You may not copy, modify, rent, sell, distribute or transfer any part of the Software except as provided in this Agreement, and you agree to prevent
   unauthorized copying of the Software.
3. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software.
4. You may not sublicense the Software.
5. The Software may contain the software or other property of third party

[ ... ]
You may transfer the Software only if a copy of this license accompanies the
Software and the recipient agrees to be fully bound by these terms."

If a project such as OpenBSD wishes to redistribute the software, then it would probably be considered an Independent Software Vendor, and again the firmware license grants permission to redistribute the Intel Pro Wireless software, under the following terms:

"For OEMs, IHVs, and ISVs:

LICENSE. This Software is licensed for use only in conjunction with Intel component products. Use of the Software in conjunction with non-Intel component products is not licensed hereunder. Subject to the terms of this Agreement, Intel grants to you a nonexclusive, nontransferable, worldwide, fully paid-up license under Intel's copyrights to: (i) copy the Software internally for your own development and maintenance purposes; (ii) copy and distribute the Software to your end-users, but only under a license agreement with terms at least as restrictive as those contained in Intel's Final, Single User License Agreement, attached as Exhibit A; and (iii) modify, copy and distribute the end- user documentation which may accompany the Software, but only in association with
the Software.

If you are not the final manufacturer or vendor of a computer system or software
program incorporating the Software, then you may transfer a copy of the
Software, including any related documentation (modified or unmodified) to your recipient for use in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, provided such
recipient agrees to be fully bound by the terms hereof.  [ ... ]"

However, if the OpenBSD project isn't willing to agree to these terms, US copyright law (Title 17 & section 1201(f) of the DMCA) allows you to perform a clean-room reverse-engineering of the software as "necessary to achieve interoperability with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under copyright law."


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