[OpenWrt-Devel] Why OpenWrt sucks?

John Clark jeclark2006 at aim.com
Tue Mar 10 12:48:08 EDT 2015

On Mar 10, 2015, at 7:21 AM, valent.turkovic at gmail.com wrote:

> Can anyone explain to me how NDAs come into this? Because I remember
> one discussions with Mikrotik developer who said that they can't
> release their Atheros driver that they developed as open source
> because they signed NDA with Atheros?
> Is Atheros giving some "secret" and proprietary information to
> companies that sign NDA with them? If this is true then we will never
> have as fast performance as companies that sign NDAs.

Yes. The data sheets and code require that those receiving such sign an NDA, that is ‘Non Disclosure Agreement’.

So, they are prohibited from passing any information on to others, without Qualcom’s permission.

Back in the olden days, chip manufacturers would give at least the data sheets away for ‘free’, and if an NDA was required, that was usually a simple document.

Sometime in the late 80’s, especially with PC video chip manufacturers, the documentation on how to control the video chips became ‘unavailable’ except if one was going to buy millions of chips.

This lead to reverse engineering what the video chips did by tracing code and fiddling with registers.

In the case of WIFI one of the claims about why information is not available is because of the FCC. Fiddling with the registers may cause the device to operate outside of the FCC certification parameters.

Well guess what… blind fiddling can wreak as much havoc as intelligent fiddling…

The other aspect of the NDA + Big Bucks, is that it provides a barrier to new companies coming in and competing with the established companies. So, those established companies, once they ante up for the Big Bucks, don’t mind that barrier.

In my experience Intel has been the best in the last 20 years for getting information and design guides out for the ‘cheapest’ usually only an NDA. Motorola use to be pretty good when the M68K was king, and even early on with the PPC line, but of late with the renaming as Freescale, they have gone down the road of NDA, and rather limited ‘outreach’.

The worst has been Broadcom. In the past I’ve had two products that I was developing custom applications with get acquired by Broadcom, and while before the acquisition, there was good information flow, afterwards, there was no information flow.

Qualcom has been similar, in that products they acquire typically ‘disappear’, or barriers of use are raised to greater heights. There was a bit of a window for Atheros, and I think the Open Source community should be thankful for what has been given out. But it is not ‘typical’ Qualcom style to do so, and could disappear in a heartbeat.

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