MPL/GPL drivers for the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco and others

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The Linux Wavelan IEEE driver and Linux Orinoco driver are Open Source project that had many contributors through their turbulent life. I did contribute to it since 1999 thanks to Hewlett Packard sponsoring my work. My main contribution was the Wireless Extensions support (of course), multi-firmware support and a few bug fixes.

The Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco is the current generation of Wireless LAN hardware offered by Lucent (and others). A more detailed description is available in the Wireless Howto. This page describe the state of the new Linux MPL/GPL driver for this hardware.

There is still a page for the old Linux GPL driver called wvlan_cs.c. For the good old Wavelan, which was not IEEE compliant (a few generations back), go here. For other wireless LANs types (such as the very common PrismII), please read the Linux Wireless Howto.

Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco hardware : One hardware, 3 drivers...

There are three drivers supporting the same Wavelan IEEE hardware. One is the new MPL/GPL driver, called orinoco_cs. One is the old GPL driver, called wvlan_cs. The last one is based on a binary library and supported by Lucent, called wavelan2_cs.

For all problem related to wavelan2_cs, please contact Lucent directly. The lack of source code make debugging in most case impossible.

On the other hand, this page deals exclusively with orinoco_cs, the new MPL/GPL driver, now part of the kernel 2.4. Various people outside Lucent are active keeping this driver alive. I still have a page for the old Linux GPL driver called wvlan_cs.c.

We are in the process of phasing out gradually wvlan_cs in favor of orinoco_cs, which has all the features of the former without the bugs. We are recommending people doing a new installation to start directly with orinoco_cs.

Why would you use orinoco_cs ? A few reasons :

Of course, the wavelan2_cs driver does also have its advantages, but Lucent can speak for it.

Orinoco driver : One driver, 3 hardwares...

The Orinoco driver support 3 hardware which are very closely related but slightly different :

If you look in the Wireless Howto, you will find that each of these hardware have other drivers available. For the Orinoco, we list those drivers in the previous section. For PrismII, there are the famous linux-wlan-ng and HostAP drivers, which have advantages over this driver.

Because Orinoco support all those hardware, people think they are the same hardware. However, all those other drivers support only one of these hardware, and only the Orinoco driver support all three of them. At boot, the Orinoco driver will print in the message logs which of the three hardware it has detected, with the firmware version number.

Related hardware and drivers.

These are other hardware that people often confuse with the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco, but which are totally different and incompatible :

Those are hardware related to the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco but which require a modified version of the Orinoco driver :

Those driver are now merged into the main Orinoco driver (at least in the CVS).

Latest version of the driver

Pavel is the new maintainer of the driver, the very latest version of the driver is available in recent Linux kernels : Pavel also maintains a version of the driver that can be used in many kernel, this is available in the CVS : David was the main maintainer of the driver, old versions of his drivers are availableon his web site : I have an old version of the Pcmcia configuration file :

The version in the latest Linux kernel tend to be up somewhat to date (both 2.4.X and 2.6.X). The version in the latest Pcmcia package is a bit older.

Patches for orinoco_cs and various web pages related to orinoco_cs

Other people are hacking like crazy on the driver : Help, Howto and other hacks :

Issues and release notes

Too many for my taste ;-(
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Updated 26 May 04
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