Re: rtw88, rtw89 -- options for bringing a couple rtw standalone GitHub repos into backports.git

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On 10/20/23 02:34, Johannes Berg wrote:
Can you explain what you're trying to achieve by that? And even, what is the reason to have these out-of-tree versions of the drivers?


I will give you a slightly different explanation than given by Brian.

When HP or Lenovo issue a new laptop model, they always use the latest Realtek wifi device - the rtw89 wifi 6 models at the moment. The new computers are released with Windows, which does have a driver for these devices.

If the user wants to run Linux, it is likely to be an older Ubuntu version running a kernel issued before rtw89 became part of the kernel. As a result, the user has no wifi under Linux. As far as I can tell, the equivalent problem does not happen for Intel or Athlon wifi hardware.

I created the rtw89 GitHub repo, and rtw88 (wifi 5) repo before that to backport the wireless-next version of the drivers into something that will build and run on kernels 5.4 or newer. With a 'git clone' and 'make', a novice user can get working wifi.

Keep in mind that most of our users are not very sophisticated. They frequently do not install the kernel headers even though the README tells them explicitly what the error means, and what they need to do for several of the popular distros. In addition, they struggle with the concept that out-of-kernel drivers must be built for the running kernel. Most can handle 'git pull', 'make', and sudo make (sign) install', but not anything more complicated.

As Brian said, I have done the maintenance by copying the patches from wireless-next into the GitHub repo, and handling the API changes in a manual fashion with '#ifdef LINUX_VERSION_CODE ...' blocks. This works for me, but unlike me, Brian is a programmer, and he wants to create a script whenever he sees anything repetitive.

As it is unlikely that I will be doing this much longer, I support whatever he needs to make him comfortable. Although the kernels found in newer releases of various distros will eventually support the drivers, Realtek is adding wifi 7 features to the drivers. Once they release the new hardware, it will be a short time until it is part of new models of laptops.

I do not see where backports has any part of the solution to this problem. As I had difficulty in getting it configured the first time I used that project, I do not see that as part of the solution for rtw88/89, other than it could be used to suggest solutions for the API changes. My experience allows me to look at the wireless-next and mainline kernels and determine what changes are needed. I am not sure I could explain that well enough to teach Brian.

Finally, I applaud Brian's initiative toward this project and I am content in knowing that the code is in good hands.


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