From Andrew Miklas <> Subject Linksys WRT54G and the GPL Date Sat, 7 Jun 2003 22:41:23 -0400 Hi, Sorry for the very lengthly posting, but I want to be as precise as possible in describing this problem. Awhile ago, I mentioned that the Linksys WRT54G wireless access point used several GPL projects in its firmware, but did not seem to have any of the source available, or acknowledge the use of the GPLed software. Four weeks ago, I spoke with an employee at Linksys who confirmed that the system did use Linux, and also mentioned that he would work with his management to ensure that the source was released. Unfortunately, my e-mails to this individual over the past three weeks have gone unanswered. Of course, I also tried contacting Linksys through their common public e-mail accounts (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) to no avail. However, it is hard for me to know if my contact in the company has just gone on a three week vacation (and not set an auto-responder), or has been asked to not answer anymore mail on this subject. Also, I should note that I don't own this product, so I can't determine if the source is shipped with it. However, I have gone through all the available information on the Linksys website, and can find no reference to the GPL, Linux (as it relates to this product), or the firmware source code. Also, the firmware binary (see below) is freely available from their website. There is no link from the download page to the source, or any mention of Linux or the GPL. Finally, it would be strange if the source was included in the physical package, as my contact at Linksys was initially unaware Linux was used in this product. The following steps can be used to determine the exact nature of the possible GPL violation. 1. Go to the following URL: http://www.linksys.com/download/firmware.asp?fwid=178 2. Download the "firmware upgrade files": ftp://ftp.linksys.com/pub/network/WRT54G_1.02.1_US_code.bin (MD5SUM: b54475a81bc18462d3754f96c9c7cc0f) 3. While it is downloading, confirm that there is nothing on the webpage to indicate that this binary contains GPLed software. 4. Once the download is complete, copy the contents of the file from offset 0xC0020 onward into a new file. dd if=WRT54G_1.02.1_US_code.bin of=test.dump skip=24577c bs=32c 5. Notice that this file is an image of a CramFS filesystem. Mount it. 6. Explore the filesystem. You will notice that the system appears to be based on Linux 2.4.5. Incidentally, there is at least one other GPLed project in the firmware: the BusyBox userland component: (http://www.busybox.net/) 7. The Linux kernel (I think) is mixed up with a bunch of other stuff in: bin/boot.bin You might want to know why I am interested in getting the code for the kernel used in this device. There's been some discussion here about Linux's lack of wireless support for a few of the newer 802.11b and (nearly?) all 802.11g chips. Incidentally, Linux has excellent support for at least one manufacturer's wireless family. The following Broadcom chips all appear to be supported under Linux -- if you happen to be running Linux on a MIPS processor in a Linksys router: Broadcom BCM4301 Wireless 802.11b Controller Broadcom BCM4307 Wireless 802.11b Controller Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11a Controller Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11b Controller Broadcom BCM4309 Wireless 802.11 Multiband Controller Broadcom BCM4310 Wireless 802.11b Controller Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11b/g Controller Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11a Controller Broadcom BCM4306 Wireless 802.11 Multiband Controller This list was produced by running strings on: lib/modules/2.4.5/kernel/drivers/net/wl/wl.o I am trying to determine exactly how tightly coupled these drivers are to the kernel. As an aside, I know that some wireless companies have been hesitant of releasing open source drivers because they are worried their radios might be pushed out of spec. However, if the drivers are already written, would there be any technical reason why they could not simply be recompiled for Intel hardware, and released as binary-only modules? Finally, I know that traditionally, Linux has allowed binary-only modules. However, I was always under the impression that this required that the final customer be allowed to remove them at will. That is to say, you couldn't choose to implement a portion of the kernel critical to the system's operation in a module, and then not release that module under the GPL. In this particular case, I would argue that the wireless drivers are critical to this device's operation (after all, it is a wireless access point). In addition, the final user in this case really can't just "rmmod" the wireless driver. The Broadcom driver, kernel, and really everything else in the firmware, are (IMHO anyways) being used to form a discrete package -- the WRT54Gs firmware. Does/should this have any implication on whether the Broadcom wireless module must be covered by the GPL? I would be very interested in knowing if I am mistaken in any of my claims or conclusions, and if not, how I should proceed in getting this issue resolved. -- Andrew Miklas
Date Sun, 8 Jun 2003 22:22:13 -0700 From Frank Cusack <> Subject Re: Linksys WRT54G and the GPL On Sat, Jun 07, 2003 at 10:41:23PM -0400, Andrew Miklas wrote: > However, I have gone through all the available information on the Linksys > website, and can find no reference to the GPL, Linux (as it relates to > this product), or the firmware source code. Also, the firmware binary > (see below) is freely available from their website. There is no link > from the download page to the source, or any mention of Linux or the GPL. Requoting the above license violations for context. > Finally, it would be strange if the source was included in the physical > package, as my contact at Linksys was initially unaware Linux was used > in this product. Note that including the source with the physical package is not enough to meet the GPL requirements. The source must be available to any third party, not just purchasers of the product. /fc
Subject Re: Linksys WRT54G and the GPL From Alan Cox <> Date 09 Jun 2003 19:23:52 +0100 On Llu, 2003-06-09 at 06:22, Frank Cusack wrote: > > Finally, it would be strange if the source was included in the physical > > package, as my contact at Linksys was initially unaware Linux was used > > in this product. > > Note that including the source with the physical package is not enough > to meet the GPL requirements. The source must be available to any third > party, not just purchasers of the product. Wrong. Its a common misconception. The GPL requires I make source available to those I give the binaries, be it a box on a supermarket shelf or a one of product for a client. In fact the GPL has to do this because it is really import that the author is not hit with the cost of third party distribution. What the author cannot do is forbid that third party distribution. In Linksys case dumping the required source on the end of the CD of goodies that comes with the kit and including a notice would be sufficient.
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