Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance

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.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick 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.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead the full story on Linux-Watch: Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance

/zimages/5/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.