Broadcom (Yes, Broadcom) joins the Linux Foundation

After years of being a Linux outsider, the major Wi-Fi chip vendor comes out of the dog-house and joins the Linux Foundation.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

A major pain point for Linux desktop users over the years has been a lack of Wi-Fi chipset support. That's been changing for the better over the last few years, but I still find it a little amazing that on Monday, January 10th, the Linux Foundation will announce that Broadcom, yes Broadcom, will be joining the Foundation.

You see, for years, Linux notebook users have had a hate-hate relationship with Broadcom. While Atheros and Intel provided Linux Wi-FI drivers and code, Broadcom did little to nothing for Linux users. Broadcom started changing its ways in 2007 and started offering more and more support for Linux. Then, in September 2010, Broadcom released the source code for the "initial release of a fully-open Linux driver for its latest generation of 11n chipsets."

Since then, that driver has been integrated into the latest Linux kernel release 2.6.37 and, as a result, is actively being improved upon by the entire Linux community. Even so, for Broadcom, with its vast portfolio of semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, to join the Linux Foundation is a surprise. It's also a very pleasant one.

Broadcom will be working with the Linux Driver Project and the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, where it can work directly with community developers, as well as other industry players and suppliers. I'm impressed.

In a statement, Michael Hurlston, Senior VP & General Manager of Broadcom's WLAN line of business said, "There is no question: Linux has become a major platform for communications devices and technologies. Our decision to open source the drivers for Broadcom's 802.11 chipsets is in response to our growing base of customers using Linux and is the first of what we expect to be many open development success stories."

Amanda McPherson, VP of marketing and developer programs at The Linux Foundation, said, "Broadcom understands what almost every major technology company today knows - that collaborative, open development results in benefits that include everything from supported hardware to reduced development costs. She finished "We applaud Broadcom for its recent move to work more closely with the Linux community; their membership in the Linux Foundation speaks volumes of their commitment."

I applaud them as well. With this move, all the major Wi-Fi chipset vendors are on-board with Linux.

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