The RTL8181 Linux port is an open source development effort. Like in all
open source projects, the strength of the effort is given by the added
strengths of the people involved. We encourage everybody to participate
in the development of what we believe will become one of the few 100%
open-source powered embedded wireless platforms. You can contribute as
much or as little as you feel like: there are no obligations, no quotas
to meet, plenty of ways to get involved, and many of them don't even require
an ability to read, write, compile and debug code.
As you may have already noticed, our contributors are always properly credited,
unless they specifically request their identity to remain private.
Here are just a few ideas:
Download, test or review the code
As of February 2004, the published code allows the building of complete
uploadable "firmware" images for RTL8181 devices. As of October 2004, an
open source driver for the wireless MAC (RTL8180) is also available.
If you have an RTL8181-based device
that you can use as a test-bench,
download a copy of the code,
build it according to the instructions,
test it on your device and tell us your success/failure story in
testing forum. Accompany your trouble reports with generous context
information to allow other people to reproduce and debug the error. If
you think you have identified the problem in the code, suggest a bugfix.
If you don't have a test-bench device, but are experienced with Linux
kernel programming for MIPS processors, take a look at the code, especially
the libpatfree assembly and try to spot any obvious (or less obvious)
The code was written and reviewed by a mixed team of MIPS coders and Linux
coders, but no MIPS Linux hacker. We need all the peer review that we can get.
Support the patent-free
MIPS project (nonmips) which aims to build open-source support for
patent-free MIPS clone cores, including but not limited to RTL8181's core.
Port other AP-specific GPL programs to Linux/RTL8181; help build a
"works/doesn't work" table, discuss your successes and failures and post
compilation hints in the
RTL8181 ports forum.
Post your questions, answers, hints on the project forums.
Adopt a device - ideally one that you already own. Learn as
much as you can about it: key components, pinouts, features, programs
bundled with the firmware, specific hacks. Take pictures of its outside
and insides. Set up a web page detailing your findings and send us the link,
or alternatively send us the information and we can host it right here (you
will be properly credited). Become the "local expert" on your device.
Even if you can't code, you may have friends who can and who might be
interested in this project - if they knew about it. Spread the word.
Publicize the project: post a reference in your blog or your ego website,
submit a story to Slashdot.
Obtain and publish those hard-to-find missing bits of information:
the undocumented (or just poorly documented) registers of the 8180/8181,
programming examples for the SA2400 radio etc.
Support and help enforce the GNU GPL
As an open source publisher, coder, contributor or
just happy user, you
probably share our feelings about those people who abuse other people's work
in total contempt of the authors' expectations (and legal right) to receive
proper compensation, reciprocal or material, for their efforts.
If you do, remember that it's up to you to do something about it.
Two words: Create Awareness.
If you have an RTL8181-based device running Linux firmware - contact
your vendor and request a complete copy of the source code. Accompany your
request with a copy of (or a reference to) the
GNU General Public Licence,
most vendors have no idea about the licensing terms of any of the stuff that
they are selling. Explain that distribution or bundling of copyrighted
computer software without a valid licence (commonly known as "software
piracy") is illegal and they just might be reported to the relevant
authorities - this is likely to get their attention.
If you are referred to the vendor's upstream supplier,
repeat the procedure with them. Or take it straight to Realtek.
Expose Realtek's illegal use and distribution of Linux software.
Bring the matter to the attention of the FSF and
the Linux kernel folks,
especially (but not necessarily) those whom you might know in person.
Post an online story, or perhaps talk to a
journalist and get the story in the Dead Tree media.
Oh, and if all this sounds a bit like overreacting, take a minute to think
about how the BSA would react to a similar situation.
If you have an interesting experience to share, please post it in the
fightback forum, so that other people can learn from it as well.