Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-06-19 Print this article Print

The latest stable version of the Linux kernel doesn't boast earth-shaking additions, but does include numerous improvements. (Linux-Watch)

This past Saturday, June 17, saw the arrival of the latest stable version of the Linux kernel: Linux 2.6.17. While this new kernel doesnt boast any earth-shaking additions, it does include numerous improvements to Linux for both users and developers. For many laptop users, the most important news is that Linux now includes built-in driver support for the Broadcom 43xx-based wireless card family.
This Wi-Fi chip family is found in many laptops such as many models from Acer, Apple (those using Airport Extreme), Compaq and Dell.
Click here to read about earlier improvements to Wi-Fi in the Linux kernel. This driver support depends upon another new enhancement to the kernel—the addition of a Softmac layer in the wireless stack. Softmac is a software MAC (machine access control) layer that works with Linuxs built-in 802.11 layer. This provides a great number of Wi-Fi protocol management features for chips that, unlike the Intel ProSet Wireless chip family, dont handle these details in hardware. Softmac is not the only open-source project that takes this approach. MADWiFi, for example, uses one to support Atheros Wi-Fi chips. Since Softmac is now part of the kernel, however, it can be used by developers to more easily support other Wi-Fi chips. Read the full story on Linux-Watch: Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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