Texas Instruments ACX100 and OpenBSD
Texas Instruments makes a wireless chipset, the ACX100. nThis chipset is used by a number of manufacturers- Samsung, DLink, SMC, USR nto name a few- but they have not released specifications for it and their Linux driversnare distributed in binary form only. nComplicating things, the chipset lacks a flash PROM for the firmware. The driver mustnload the firmware on initialization. This firmware, too, is distributed only as a binary blob nunder a restrictive license. Though poorly thought out, this practice is not nuncommon and many vendors consider the operation of their hardware and its firmware a ntrade secret. No one is asking them to give up their trade secrets, only to permit redistributionnof the binary.nnMembers of the [OpenBSD Project](http://www.openbsd.org) have tried to contact nTexas Instruments but have had no success. They cannot even determine who to asknabout distributing the firmware blob and if it can be made available unaltered but underna less restrictive license. Doing so would give Ti's chipset the same support as nthose from Realtek, RaLink, Lucent, Prism and Symbol but Ti appears uninterested.nEven Intel and Cisco, two companies notorious for their poor support of BSD licensing,nhave made some steps toward documenting their chipsets.nn[Efforts are underway to develop an unencumbered driver]( http://acx100.sourceforge.net/) that may make all this irrelevant but that work will take time and may prove unsuccessful. Meanwhile there are but three things to do:n* Contact Texas Instruments and ask them to discuss the matter with the OpenBSD developers. The BSD-licensed driver and firmware image can be applied to other Open Source operating systems such as Linux.n* Do not buy products based on the Texas Instruments ACX100 chipset.n* Tell other people not to buy products based on the Ti ACX100 chipset.nnHopefully, if enough people let Ti know and the company sees the potential for lost salesnand the bad publicity they will reconsider their position of stone-walling these developers.