Linux gets 802.11g Intel Centrino driver

Intel has published a pre-beta version of its Linux-based 802.11g driver for its Centrino platform in a bid to entice open-source fans to its wireless notebooks

Linux users can now take full advantage of the 54Mbps wireless networking chipset in Intel's Centrino platform.

Windows XP has enjoyed full Centrino support since the platform was first launched by Intel in March 2003. Although Linux is not exactly a major force on mobile computers, the lack of Centrino support has given Linux users even less reason to spend money on Intel's premier laptop technology.

Speaking at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in New York earlier this year, the general manager of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, Will Swope, said at that time that Intel was reluctant to release the driver as open-source software. He said this was because the driver's inner workings might reveal intellectual property that Intel wanted to keep secret.

"What I believe will happen is we will end up having a Linux compatibility driver that is not open source at first, then designing future drivers in such a way that they are open source, but will not expose intellectual property," Swope said.

However, within months of Swope's statement, the chip giant had released a pre-beta version of the Linux driver for the 11Mbps 802.11b standard. On Friday, Intel published the pre-beta version of its 802.11g driver on a developer Web site.

However, an Intel spokesman warned that the drivers on the Web site are only for testing purposes by the open-source community.

"The pre-beta drivers are intended to provide the Linux open-source developer community an opportunity to evaluate the drivers in their own environment, and provide Intel with feedback," said the spokesman.

Additionally, the spokesman pointed out that some of the advanced features of Centrino will only be accessible to users of the 2.6 Linux Kernel, which was released earlier this year.

"Because the features and capabilities of Linux and Windows differ, there will also be differences in the features of the two drivers. For example, advanced power management capabilities will only be fully realised in the 2.6 kernel, due to limitations of the 2.4 kernel," the spokesman said.

CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.