[LEDE-DEV] NETSHe mac80211 GPL sources

Daniel Golle daniel at makrotopia.org
Fri Feb 3 02:40:21 PST 2017

Hi Stas,

thanks for the quick reply!

I'm looking for a good way to replace ubiquiti's proprietary TDMA
implementation with something which could be vendor-independent and
interoperable -- and ideally Free Open Source Software.
As TDMA has been implemented for ath9k in FreeBSD, I was wondering if
a similar extension to mac80211 has been made -- and found NETSHe's
wireless stack. As ath9k, mac80211 and the Linux kernel are under the
GPL license, I was assuming that NETSHe's modifications to support
TDMA thus must be available under the GPL licensed as well.

So from what I understand you are using your own proprietary driver
instead of ath9k? Yet, cfg80211 and mac80211 seem to be involved
according to what I found in TDMA_brief_en.pdf, as TDMA interfaces
are added obviously added through nl80211. Earlier today I also
realised that this has previously been discussed on this mailing
list, see

As you are offering a binary version of the firmware for download,
according to the GPL you are oblidged to also share the portion of
the source code which is under GPL (ie. at least the Linux kernel,
GPL'ed wireless drivers like ath9k, libnl, the 'iw' userspace, ...)
as well as all modifications you've made to that GPL licensed code.

Obviously you could easily avoid that legal requirement by just not
offering a free download of the binaries, so don't get me wrong, I
do appreciate your openness! Yet, it'd be great if we had a shared
codebase for TDMA instead of a growing number of competing
implementations (ubnt, mikrotik, Deliberant's iPoll, NETSHe, ...) each
being developed behind closed doors. As your implementation is built
upon GPL'ed code and you offer binaries for download, please also
share the patches for iw, libnl, cfg80211, mac80211 and ath*k.
By the end of the day, you are using 99% code which other people have
written and published under the assumption that everyone is granted
the freedom to run, study, share and modify the software.
"The GPL is a copyleft license, which means that derivative work can
only be distributed under the same license terms." [1]
However, I'm not a lawyer and I have simply no idea if the GPL can
actually be enforced in the judicative domain NETSHe is located in or
whether we are talking about a purely idealistic/moralic issue here.

Anywa, my interest is to use and improve that code! Friends of mine
have started a non-profit collaborative ISP project [2] and we are
having a heated debate whether to use OpenWrt/LEDE from source or
ubnt's proprietary firmware on ubnt and other ath9k-based hardware.
Even though Wifi performance on ath9k recently improved a lot, a TDMA
implementation under a free license (ie. GPL) would be great thing to
have, also for use in Wireless Community Mesh Networks.

A good compromise could be to publish the code without the userspace
tools allowing AES crypto -- in that way, free community networks
can use that implementation and commercial entities would need to
license the crypto bits if they want link-level crypto.



[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License
[2]: https://www.reudnetz.org/

On Fri, Feb 03, 2017 at 09:35:30AM +0300, Stanislav V. Korsakov wrote:
> Hi Daniel,
> Please check this article http://netshe.ru/wirelessstack to understand
> layering of our modifications in Linux wireless stack. You can see that
> we add proprietary licensed and dual licensed drivers in wireless stack.
> We provide our GPLed and dual licensed source codes to our customer only.
> Not our source code is available at http://gw.stasoft.net/dl/
> Can you tell me what is your real interest?
> Regards, Stas
> On 03.02.2017 03:43, Daniel Golle wrote:
> > Hi!
> >
> > NETSHe offers a modified version of ath9k, mac80211 and cfg80211 which
> > offers support for TDMA, see:
> > http://netshe.ru/files/doc/en/TDMA_brief_en.pdf
> >
> > Where to download the sourcecode of mac80211 and the modified drivers?
> >
> >
> > Cheers
> >
> >
> > Daniel
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