Probably some of you know my name and my role with Fedora and the
Linux kernel. If not, then suffice it to say that I am very interested
in having people get wireless working as easily as possible.
One problem that often hinders users in that regard is firmware for
their wireless devices. Fortunately, Fedora has accepted firmware
packages in the main repository for some time. And, we have had
good success with getting firmware made available under suitable
licenses for Fedora. Still, one particular vendor has been non-
(but not necessarily anti-)cooperative: Broadcom. This is a problem,
as their devices are quite common.
The "approved" firmware for use with the b43 and b43legacy drivers
comes from the OpenWRT website, where it is provided as part of larger
MIPS binaries. AFAIK Broadcom has never bothered OpenWRT about this,
yet neither have they offered an explicitly stated license for this
The MIPS binaries from the OpenWRT site in turn come from packages
distributed by wireless AP vendors in order to comply with the GPL.
The MIPS binaries are pre-compiled in those packages, but they are
clearly intended to be linked into Linux kernels to run on those APs.
In my mind, this at least implies intent that it is alright to
redistribute these binaries.
So, I have created packages which use these AP vendor's GPL packages as
sources, extract the MIPS binaries, then further extract the wireless
firmware using b43-fwcutter. It is a bit odd in that the src.rpm file
(containing the AP vendor code) is huge, while the binary rpm file
is tiny. But, they work just fine. :-) I have packages for both
b43 and b43legacy. I will include the COPYING file I composed for
inclusion in the b43 firmware package below. I have a similar one for
the b43legacy package.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the string of arguments above has yet to
sway any Fedora authority to bless these packages. So I wonder,
is the case above strong enough to merit including such packages in
RPM Fusion? If that seems likely, then I'll be happy to submit the
packages for your review. Obviously this would seem to belong in the
"non free" section...
P.S. COPYING file from the b43-firmware package below. (The "by
permission of" bit was suggested by someone else -- I'm happy to
augment it or remove it as anyone might suggest...)
Redistributed by permission of Broadcom in binary form only, no
The source archive for this package was reached through a link at
the following URL:
The text at that location reads as follows:
GPL Code Center
The source code files available on this page have been provided
under one or more open source licenses. Select your Linksys
product model and a firmware version from the list below to
download the source code library.
The source code found here is complete to the best of
Linksys’ knowledge. If you believe any additional
source code files should be provided under the
applicable open source license, please contact Linksys at
linksys-opensource(a)linksys.com and provide in detail the
product or code module in question. Linksys is committed to
meeting the requirements of the open source licenses including
the GNU General Public License (GPL) and will make all required
source code available.
The following URL is the direct link to the archive used as the source
of this package:
The source archive was specifically provided by Linksys in order to
fulfill obligations arising from distribution of software licensed
under the GPL and other open source licenses. Given that fact,
it is reasonable to infer that redistribution of the archive itself
and the contents of that archive is accepted by Linksys, Broadcom,
and any other copyright holders.
John W. Linville