Archive for May, 2006

Planet Gentoo update

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

I recently wrote about some recent thoughts regarding Planet Gentoo. It’s time for a followup.

Planet vs Universe

I figure from the response that there is still a strong demand for the Planet in principle alone, that is, purely “on-topic” articles.

While this is fair enough, and Planet probably isn’t going anywhere, I’d like to suggest that some Planet readers read Gentoo Universe for 1 week. There isn’t really a great amount of difference, and the universe actually picks up some interesting content which doesn’t appear on Planet due to the feed flaws I described in my previous article. After this week has elapsed, provide some feedback – did it drive you to insanity? Will you be changing back to reading Planet rather than Universe?

New Planet co-maintainer

I’m extremely grateful for the strong response I got from my last post, where I asked for volunteers to help Planet/Universe administration. I got a lot of responses from existing developers, but a certain non-developer candidate was particularly impressive, so I chose to bring him onboard.

Steve Dibb (beandog) is the new co-maintainer. Steve is heavily involved with Gentoo and Linux in his local area, and contributes some good quality articles to the unofficial Gentoo Wiki. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him involved with Gentoo’s official documentation project at some point in the future.

From now on, developers should email with Planet/Universe requests, rather than myself directly.

Software update

The old nightly snapshot on was actually over 1 year out of date. Oops.

I upgraded us to the latest version, which appears to have improved the situation regarding republishing of old content.

I’ll be upgrading our Gentoo-hosted weblogs b2evolution install to version 0.9.2 soon after it comes out (and if Flameeyes tells you some nonsense about me taking months and months to do this, just ignore him!). This will help with the antispam stuff.

ZD1211 news

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

We have made a lot of progress since my last post about our rewritten ZD1211 USB-WLAN driver.

  • Monitor mode – the ability to spy on local network traffic with tools like ethereal.
  • Software encryption – we can now connect to encrypted (WEP + WPA) networks. Hardware-based encryption will be supported later.
  • ZD1211B support – we now support the newer range of ZyDAS devices
  • Improved RX performance
  • Misc fixes and improvements

I managed to get in contact with some ZyDAS engineers, who are responsive and helpful via email. Thumbs up to them, I hope this level of communication can continue for future products beyond the Atheros acquisition.

I have been spending time hacking on softmac (generic code layer which powers ZD1211, bcm43xx, and a few other drivers). I fixed a few bugs, and am now working on finishing some of the incomplete functionality (such as shared key authentication, mixed mode protection and short/long preambles).

There is only one more thing we need to complete before we submit a basic driver for inclusion in Linux 2.6.18: automatic TX power calibration, so that we aren’t needlessly broadcasting our traffic over long distances when the access point is very close. This won’t be too hard once we have figured out how to decode the signal strength. The code in the vendor driver for doing this is quite cryptic, to say the least.