Wireless support for Linux and FreeBSD

In my quest to test out my Compaq Armada E500, it turns out that the hardest thing to support are the two wireless devices I have to work with it. One is a Linksys USB device with a ZyDAS 1211 chipset. I found an open source driver project (zydas1211rw) providing Linux support for this ZyDAS chipset. This driver has been included in the Linux kernel since version 2..6.18. However, the zyd(4) driver for FreeBSD is still in the development stage. Apparently OpenBSD and NetBSD already support this chipset (as that is the origin of the driver).

The other device I have is a Zonet ZEW1502. This device seems to be largely unknown, though folks have been able to get the Ralink drivers to work with it. However, none of the directories of Ralink devices mention it (though they do mention the ZEW1500 and ZEW1501). Unfortunately, the Ralink drivers ral(4) and ural(4) only show up in FreeBSD 6 as best as I can tell.

I went with FreeBSD 6 on the laptop, and it works just fine. I’ve not tried GNOME or KDE, but WindowMaker and 9wm work quite ably. 9term was mostly a pain, but xterm works (of course it does). However, the hoped-for ral(4) driver doesn’t work with the Zonet ZEW1502. The system recognizes a Cardbus device has been inserted, but that’s all.

Now that the USB adapter is shot, the Cardbus/PCMCIA is all I have. The USB plug broke apart and subsequently came undone. It was in a part of the computer that already had its case broken off, so it had no protection anyway. Sigh. That’s the *only* time this hardware has actually let me down. Time to focus on the Zonet – or to replace it.

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