What's the real problem with wireless on the Ben?

Freemor freemor at fastmail.fm
Mon Sep 12 21:09:15 EDT 2011

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 11:04:59PM +0400, cenobyte at dragoncrypt.com wrote:
> I know that a) the Ben can get Internet through ether-USB and b)
> there does exist a wifi microsd module which is supposed to work.
> Therefore is the real problem the fact that Qi-hardware cannot make
> and distribute wifi products because of patents? 

From my understanding it not so much a patent thing as a closed source 
firmware/forced NDA thing (People more directly involved please correct 
me if I'm incorrect on this). The Ben is ment to be Libre Hardware it
can not be that if a major component is a mystery, Or worse "Illegal" 
to figure out how it works.

> I know a lot of us
> USE wifi everyday, (it's my main method of getting online) but are
> we supposed to disagree with 802.11x just like we choose not to use
> non-Free software? 

Again the problem here is not only the choice of free software
but free hardware. Wifi chip makers simply refuse to disclose how 
their chips work. Thus the reason no non inclusion.

> Is there a better protocol to use for wifi, a
> Libre one? 

If I recall correctly Bluetooth is a more free option but a nightmare
to implement (unless tou do like everyone else and use the Bluez stack)

I personally am very impressed with the work being done on the ATBEN/ATUSB

> If so, would that require new network hardware , maybe
> even a new ISP? 

New hardware maybe (again the WIFI chips in your router are probably
all locked up with NDAs and Binaryblob firmware. So the problem isnt 
so much the protocol but the ability to program the chips to do it.
Hard to do when no one will tell you how the thing works,

No need for a new isp. By the time data is coming out the wan side 
of the router there isn't any 802.11x left it's all TCP/IP. (well
that and PPPoE/DOCSIS). 

> What I am trying to say is that even though the Ben
> is fully open, we use devices that may not be with it all the time
> like MicroSD (which I believe we cannot even say- we have to say
> 8:10 or something, right?) I don't know of any "open standard"
> memory card types and it would be too much for Qi to try and make
> one. In the future, IF the second Nanonote has USB host, at this
> point I wouldn't feel too wrong about plugging in my USB wireless g
> adapter and using the Libre driver. Am I off base?

I'd fully support and love to see a USB host mode on the next NanoNote.
Although I personally wouldn't bother with the wireless aspect I'd like
the option to Slave other devices to the Nanonote. I also think it'd be 
great to include the USB DSL/CableModem drivers (providing the are Libre)
as that way a NanoNote could jack right into the DSL/Cablemodem.

I understand both your point and your frustration. I however think that 
we as a comunity need to stay focused on what we want. In my case (and I'm
assuming for most people that bought a Ben), Fully open/Libre hardware. Once we,
or the designers of the NanoNote start making compromises the unit as a whole
looses it status as Fully Free, and becomes just another tech gadget. 

One of the coolest things about the Ben NanoNote (and hopefully all NanoNotes
to come) is that it stands for something, That it draws a line in the sand and
says, "This is what I believe in". If we loose that we loose what makes the 
NanoNote special and signifigant.

If I'm coming off sounding preachy, that is not my intent. I just have strong
feelings on the subject. As I said in an earlier post (@Jon: I'll respond to your
earlier question in a bit RL has just been getting in the way of NN fun lately), 
We must resist the urge to turn the NanoNote into just another mass appeal tech 
gadget and instead focus on building on what it is and what it stands for. 

(anyways.. I clearly have too many soapboxes laying around here... sorry about that)
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