"I'm trying to keep some external drivers up to date with the kernel, and the first two weeks after the release is the worst time for me. There is no way to distinguish the current git kernel from the latest release. It's only after rc1 is released that I can use the preprocessor to check LINUX_VERSION_CODE," explained Pavel Roskin, describing the ongoing effort to keep the out of tree MadWifi driver in sync with the latest released kernel. Rik Van Riel suggested:
"Consider this an incentive to submit your code for inclusion in the upstream kernel. Having all the common drivers integrated in the mainline kernel makes it much easier for users to use all their hardware, external drivers are not just a pain for the developers."
Pavel acknowledged, "the incentive has already worked for MadWifi, which has landed in the wireless-2.6 repository under the name 'ath5k'. Still, there is a lot of work to do, and some features won't appear in the kernel driver soon, partly because they rely on the chipset features that still need to be reverse engineered. " In response to Pavel's original question, Dave Jones noted that Fedora kernels treat the development between a major release and the first release candidate as "rc0".
"Incorporating the MadWifi project as non-profit entity is on our to-do-list since months, and I really would like to see it happen soon now," Michael Renzmann announced on the Madwifi development mailing list. He explained, "[the] main motivation for setting up a non-profit organisation is to be able to handle monetary donations from users in a clean way. So far, we are a bunch of interested and only loosely organised developers working on the driver." He went on to add, "we see a rising amount of users asking how they can donate money to support the ongoing development of MadWifi and ath5k. The money could be used for covering costs for our server, for setting up a small testbed installation, for providing developers with Atheros-based cards, and so on." He then noted that given the two options of either forming their own non-profit or joining a non-profit umbrella, they are choosing to pursue the latter.
Michael continued, "As far as I know, SFC and SPI are the only non-profit umbrellas that exist for open-source projects - or at least these are the two 'famous' ones." He went on to offer some comparisons between the 'Software Freedom Conservancy' (SFC) and 'Software in the Public Interest' (SPI), as well as listing some projects that are members of each. He noted the SFC's association with the SFLC and suggested, "I currently tend to vote for incorporating as non-profit by joining the SPI, and at the same time join the SFLC as client." Michael concluded by asking for feedback.
"We, the MadWifi team, announce our decision to move away from the binary-only HAL and change the focus of our future development towards ath5k, a completely free (as in freedom) driver which will eventually become an integral part of the Linux kernel," Michael Renzmann posted to the MadWifi development mailing list. The decision comes during continued debate surrounding what is and what is not allowed by the BSD license, and with no official statement yet from the SFLC. Much of the debate was due to an attempt to release BSD licensed files under the GPL, visible for example in the ath5k_hw.c source file which is still labeled as available "under the terms of the GNU General Public License" in the latest version of the file checked into the source repository linked from the MadWifi project page. It appears that actual development of the ath5k driver has been moved to Linville's git tree, where the license is now purely BSD, though debate remains as to what's required to be able to add additional copyrights to source code as have been added to the reverse engineered HAL code originally written by Reyk Floeter. In an earlier confrontation with Atheros, the work done by Reyk was determined to be free of copyright infringement:
"A driver for Atheros wireless cards is available in OpenBSD that talks directly to the hardware, based on reverse engineering efforts done by Reyk Floeter. Relevant parts of the driver have been ported to Linux by Nick Kossifidis to start OpenHAL, a free (as in freedom) replacement of the proprietary HAL. Claims that the OpenBSD driver (and thus also OpenHAL) contains stolen code slowed down the OpenHAL efforts but finally could be voided. The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), with the help of Atheros, performed a thorough code review and concluded "that OpenHAL does not infringe copyrights held by Atheros". In other words, the way is clear now for the inclusion of an OpenHAL-based driver into the Linux kernel."