RealTime IT News

802.11 on a Linux Stack

Vendors looking to make Wi-Fi products running under Linux don't have to fully develop all the wireless underpinnings for that OS. Devicescape (formerly Instant802) has it ready to sell.

Called Universal Wireless Platform (UWP) 2.0, the new software is mean to "accelerate the development of products by helping manufacturers," says Devicescape CEO David Fraser.

The company is transitioning from providing services —for example, as Instant802, it created customized software for products like access points, including the interface on popular products from companies like D-Link—to simply selling the software stack needed to put 802.11 support on embedded Linux. The company claims to have worked on 20 different designs in the past, most of which used Linux underpinnings. However, the number of products it could work on that way each quarter was low.

UWP 2.0 is the company's first "packaged" software. "It will allow original design manufacturers (ODMs) to add value to our package and innovate, making a more differentiated product," says Fraser. It can work with existing Linux implementations, or customers can use Devicescape's built-in flavor.

UWP 2.0's Linux includes device drivers to support Wi-Fi chips from most vendors, including big names like Atheros and Broadcom . Support is also built in for various aspects of the standard, from WPA2 security to WMM Quality of Service (QoS).

While "universal," UWP is not a complete environment that can do everything for every type of Wi-Fi device, notes Fraser. " It'll save some engineering energy; [UWP] serves as a good starting point for specialized application development," he says. "It's a valuable foundation, but doesn't intend to cover all applications."

More specialized versions of UWP will be offered in the future.

In the meantime, Fraser says his usually quite secretive customers—most vendors want you to think they build it all themselves—are "lined up" to try this initial offering.