"In concrete terms, this adds support for WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK protocols, both in station and hostap modes."
Damien Bergamini [interview] started a thread on the OpenBSD -misc mailing list in which he summarized Intel's policy toward open-source software being to "make us look like we're open-source friendly by opening a project on sourceforge," and, "give the open-source community the bare minimum so that they can serve as our beta-testers." Damien released a reverse engineered blob-free driver for an Intel wireless chipset earlier this year [story], but work is slow as Intel does not freely provide documentation to the chipset. OpenBSD's battle with Intel has been ongoing for some time [story] leading project creator Theo de Raadt [interview] to say, "before we ask a vendor, we have already lost (ie. the device does not work). When a vendor says no, we have lost nothing further -- there is no way we can lose further than having the device not work. We can only win, and then the device works. So there is no point in giving up until we win back the rights to write software for the hardware that we have purchased." As before, the goal is to get Intel to provide a freely distributable binary firmware.
Theo pointed out that when the open source community works together they can help improve the situation, "in the past, our users have shown that they can help us convince vendors to do the right thing. They have shown vendors the path towards freeing up many pieces of documentation or granting firmware distribution rights. This has helped with many vendors, most of them quite large." He explained that until Intel releases their firmware freely and without restrictions that they are not open source friendly as they claim, "by withholding, Intel is being an Open Source fraud." He went on to suggest that Intel should follow the example of other companies in the market, "Intel must do this firmware grant in the same way that Adaptec, Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cyclades, QLogic, Ralink, and LSI and lots of other companies have granted distribution firmware to be used by others." He concluded by requesting that the open source community contact Intel to help get them to change their policies, "let's win back the rights to run the hardware we purchased."
Jonathan Gray and Damien Bergamini recently worked together to develop the nfe driver to support NVIDIA Ethernet controllers. In this interview, they talk about OpenBSD's policy to not ship binary-blobs, explaining the problems associated with drivers that use these blobs and the affect these types of drivers have on the open source community. They also detail the efforts involved in writing the nfe driver, describing why they started the project, how they were able to support undocumented hardware, and the features supported by the new driver.
OpenBSD 3.9 will be officially released on May 1, 2006 and will include the new nfe driver. The theme song for the upcoming OpenBSD release is titled "Blob!", a cautionary tale about the growing prevalence of binary blobs among open source operating systems and where this might lead.