Netgear WG311v3 - Marvell 88w8355 "Libertas"

Julian Calaby julian.calaby at
Sun Mar 2 17:01:28 EST 2008

On Mon, Mar 3, 2008 at 2:33 AM, Dan Williams <dcbw at> wrote:
> On Sun, 2008-03-02 at 22:19 +1100, Julian Calaby wrote:
>  > Hi,
>  >
>  > I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this, but here goes.
>  >
>  > I have recently obtained a Netgear WG311v3 card, under the
>  > misunderstanding that it was an atheros card. (though I have no idea
>  > how I managed to do that)
>  >
>  > Following some random FAQ, I have this card working reliably, for the
>  > moment, using ndiswrapper, which is more than suitable for my needs.
>  >
>  > However I yearn for more.
>  >
>  > I have discovered here:
>  >
>  > that this card appears to use a Marvel 88w8355 "Libertas" chipset.
>  > However I have not yet confirmed the exact chip used on my card.
>  I think you mean "88w8335" actually.  The Netgear WG311v3 uses the
>  Marvell 88w8335 chipset.

Oh, ok, I stand corrected, I stupidly didn't read the chip (apart from
noticing the stylised M) before thwacking it into my machine.

>  > I believe variants of this chip, are supported on SDIO, (8385, 8686)
>  > USB (8388) and CompactFlash (8385) using the libertas driver.
>  Correct; the existing Libertas driver (perhaps somewhat mis-named)
>  supports only the FullMAC variants of the libertas family.
>  The other, lower-numbered chips in the libertas family (8335, 8310, etc)
>  are all more softmac parts and not supported by the existing libertas
> driver.


That sucks, I'd thought that this was just another Libertas part,
given the website mentioned above.

Well, that explains why the "Libertas" parts supported by the current
kernel require firmware and why the ndiswrapper driver I'm using

>  > I can also find no information on a pci version of the libertas
>  > driver, only a proposal which appeared to go nowhere due to lack of
>  > documentation. I also cannot find any information on any linux support
>  > for this card outside of using ndiswrapper.
>  There's an existing vendor net80211-based driver for the 8335 here:
>  There's also some reverse-engineered bits here:
>  and the mac80211 port of mrv8k here:
>  though the last one here panic-ed in the interrupt handler when I tried
>  it last on 2.6.22.

Cool! =)

>  > As such, I am considering reverse engineering the pci interface for
>  > this chipset, and hopefully linking it up with the existing libertas
>  > driver.
>  Don't link up with the existing libertas driver, they are just too
>  different (softmac vs. fullmac).

Fair enough, I'll leave that be then.

>  > I was hoping to use the ndiswrapper driver as a starting point, using
>  > it as a black box to see how it talks to the PCI card. (possibly
>  > hacking together a OS level PCI sniffer) and hopefully, what I'll see
>  > will match up to what's going on in the libertas driver for similar
>  > tasks, and then I should be able to write the necessary code (or
>  > specifications) to do this.
>  >
>  > I am also concerned about any possible legal ramifications of this
>  > reverse engineering. Is it all right for me to do this, providing that
>  > I treat the ndiswrapper driver as a black box? or am I too close to
>  > non-free code to have my code be untainted?
>  I'd say first, try to whip the existing mrv8k-mac80211 port into shape
>  and you probably won't have to worry much about the legal ramifications.
>  You can look at the GPL-ed vendor driver (from the git I posted) for
>  pointers about hardware-specific stuff, but after the 8388 driver
>  experience, I'd strongly advocate writing a driver from scratch (or
>  basing off mrv8k) and not using existing Marvell vendor drivers as a
>  starting point.

Ok, will do. I'm not sure I'm up to writing a full driver, so I'll try
to get mvr8k working on my box, then probably call back here for help.

Either way though, thanks for all the info and pointers. I'll check
them out tonight.

>  Dan



Julian Calaby

Email: julian.calaby at

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