Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Boycott Laptops with Broadcom WiFi

It seems to be a recurring theme, but we keep hearing about different WLAN parts that don't work with NDIS wrapper, or other problems building the NDIS wrapper etc.

I've never used the NDIS wrapper, and I refuse to do so. I also refuse to purchase or recommend any laptop with a Broadcom WLAN part on it, at least until Broadcom changes their position and makes it possible for 3rd parties (even under NDA) to develop device drivers for their WLAN products.

The reason is simple: until laptop manufacturers start losing sales due to people who take the same position, they won't stop including Broadcom WLAN on their products. The loss of a few individual WLAN cards won't impact Broadcom at all, but if Gateway or Dell stops purchasing WLAN parts, then its a whole new ballgame. And the more laptop vendors that we can get to understand that use of Broadcom leads to lost sales, the more impact it will have.

Either Broadcom will take notice, and correct their behavior (e.g. by offering 3rd parties access to device driver info under NDA, writing drivers themselves for platforms like OpenSolaris, or even better, offering up open technical specs), or their WLAN products will gradually fade from popularity so that they are no longer relevant.

To be honest, I don't care which result comes about. But please, don't use or purchase Broadcom WLAN. And to those of you writing neat things like NDIS wrapper and reverse engineering efforts like the bwi driver in *BSD, I'd recommend you rethink whether enabling further sales of laptops bundled with Broadcom WLAN is really something you want to encourage.

(For specific alternatives to Broadcom WLAN, look for either Intel or Atheros WIFI.)

4 comments:

.:: Aurora ::. said...

+1

Do you mind if I copy this to my blog as well ?

Regards,
Edward.

Garrett D'Amore said...

Of course not, feel free to quote me.

.:: Aurora ::. said...

Thanks man ;)
Trying to get such a message as this out is quite hard work.
Regards,

kaiwai said...

The lack of opensource drivers is just part of the problem; their hardware is just plain awful. I've yet to see a single device where Broadcom chips are used, where the experience is anything but terrible.

Apple for instance, in the latest MacBooks changed their wireless from Atheros to Broadcom. As soon as they did it, there was the beginning of Apple users complaining about poor wireless reliability.

I on occasions hang out on Windows forums; everytime I see a post along the lines of 'wifi problems', I bet to myself it is a broadcom. 9/10, its a Broadcom.

So if it isn't boycotting it for the lack of willingness to allow third parties to create drivers, it should be at the very least because their products are crud.