September 18, 2010

Broadcom Releases Opensource Drivers (FINALLY!), Linux Mint KDE To Benefit

From the "Apparently, Hell Froze Over" Department, Broadcom has released open source drivers for it's newest chipsets! This is a huge win that has been a long time in the making. Working out-of-the-box wireless with Broadcom has been a dream for years and a source of extreme aggravation for many, me included. After all, there's nothing more frustrating than installing a shiny new Linux Mint KDE install on a desktop, or more often, a laptop or netbook, only to find that your wireless is as impotent as a neutered dog.

The general consensus is that Broadcom released the drivers not as a favor to us Linux users, but because of competitive pressure from rival companies like Intel. There is a nice write-up on this over at ZDNet here, and a nice take on what this all means now and in the near future here.

But there's even more good news for us Mint KDE users, as well as all Linux Mint variations, save maybe the Debian Edition at least initially. It appears that Canonical is all over this thing as I speak (or type, as the case may be). Current plans are for Canonical to release the Broadcom drivers in time for the 10.10 release less than a month from now, along with possible back-porting to 10.04 shortly thereafter. This information comes to us straight from Canonical's Ubuntu Kernel Bug Triager Jeremy Foshee. The Link is here.

If you are interested in finding out if your wireless chipset is from Broadcom or not, the easiest way is to drop to a terminal and type
lspci | grep -i broadcom
This will list any Broadcom devices that you have.

Currently Linux Mint 9 KDE is based on Ubuntu 10.04, and since it is a long term support edition for both Canonical and Linux Mint, I hope the back-port does indeed happen. And I expect it will. By releasing the drivers to the open source community, WiFi problems on Linux Mint KDE just got a whole lot less problematic. And, in the words of many, it's about time.
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