Devicescape and the World of Open Source

Posted on August 3, 2007

lnx-heart-ds.jpgDevicescape has been mentioned the news lately about its contribution of our Wi-Fi stack to the opensource movement and we wanted to set the record straight as to why we contributed our technology to the Linux kernel. Simon Barber, a founder of Devicescape and Chief Scientist had this to say:

Q: Why did Devicescape get involved and donate the new wireless stack to Linux/open source?

“We saw the beginnings of a Linux wireless sub-system that had the potential to grow in ways that were not conducive to what we thought would be best for the industry or our customers. We had already developed a very advanced stack specifically for Linux and decided that we should contribute it to the kernel and have it sit as the standard open source model on which the community could build. This allowed us several advantages such as the much wider range of testing than we could have gotten on our own and the constant improvements and additional code support that the open source community provides. In addition, contributing the kernel also helped position Devicescape (then Instant802) as a leader in the wireless space.”

Q: How is the new stack better than what the Linux kernel already had?

“Prior to the Devicescape/Instant 802 contribution, the Linux kernel had poor chipset support, limited features, multiple disparate APIs and the code quality was often poor. For example, it relied on 802.11 chipset hardware or drivers to provide many of the 802.11 MAC functions. Our contribution expanded the functionality to include all the features that could be managed in software as software. This allowed for a common interface and for wi-fi features to be the same and shared across all chipsets. The user space architecture and consistency of the features and interface means it’s much easier to innovate, create new additions and make significant advances in all areas of the code. In addition the common codebase and reduction in code duplication that was happening before goes a long way to improving the quality of the wireless experience on Linux. Basically, we gave a native 802.11 capability to wireless for OEMs.”

Some background on Simon Barber: Simon Barber is the Chief Scientist for Devicescape Software and was one of three founders of the company in 2001. Prior to founding Devicescape, Simon worked for the research labs at Hewlett-Packard focusing on developments in location-based services, VoIP, and wireless. Simon has additional experience in the wireless and VoIP fields having worked at FireTalk and at Orange on their GSM network.

To read the press we’ve received about this lately check out the following articles: