OLS Day -1: Wireless mini-summit
On Tuesday for OLS2008, I attended the wireless mini-summit. In past years, fellow Gentoo developer dsd has attended, and was remember by some of the attendees. I'm not so much involved with wireless stuff these days, but I have a good grasp of it from back when I worked at Net-Conex doing point-to-point links using Airaya WirelessGRID 802.11a gear doing 108Mbit w/ AES256, plus personal experimentation.
The vendors (Intel, Marvel, Broadcom, Atheros, Ralink, Nokia and others) and major distributions (Fedora/RH, Ubuntu, Debian, Suse) were present, but I was the only attendee from the smaller distros. Also present were some of the other core wireless developers, incl. Johannes Berg.
Most of the talk focused on 802.11 stack and driver issues, with a presentation about WiMax from Intel.
One of the really interesting things was the work from Luis R. Rodriguez, on the new Central Regulatory Domain Agent (CRDA). There were some large questions from the Intel crowd about API and interaction, but the general concept was very well received. The support for signing the domain file is probably going to not be used for the most part, as there are too many other places to subvert usage of the data even if the file is signed. 802.11d and 802.11h are mostly considered as useless as apparently no regulatory agencies have signed off on them.
Another interesting discussion came out of the discussion on power management. Stuff on the usage of the CARRIER interface flag. It's apparently quite inconsistent, and the UP/DOWN status on some wireless devices has large implications. Some devices go totally away on DOWN, and need firmware loaded on UP. In some, the power consumption in reset state prior to loading firmware is lower than any other powered-down state. Multiple power levels may be added later to try and allow devices to define what states are best/available for their power saving. Implications of firmware loss and DOWN state on associations to APs, esp. when some parts of WPA are in play. This all also sucks with some DHCP clients as they perform DOWN on release or failure, which loses the firmware - such behavior from userspace really needs to be stamped out.
For lunch, we went to a buffet resturant, Tuckers. I was a little dubious of this at first, as buffet is really not my thing, however I can say that it was quite decent, esp. their roast beef carvery, with some nice whole-grained mustard. The salads weren't so great, but overall I think I'd eat there again in a group if there was sufficient group demand.
On the way out of lunch, I ran into a cute girl (I'll call her A) with a rubber-spiked laptop bag, and started chatting to her. As she was an Ottawa resident, she was prepared with an umbrella for the torrential summer rain that started during lunch. Sharing her umbrella we returned to the hotel conference rooms, splitting up thereafter as she was in the virtualization mini-summit.
Post-lunch, resuming the wireless mini-summit, we discussed more issues about the CRDA, core mac80211 development, and then breakout sessions on power-management and ??? (I can't remember what the other side was, even though I was in it).
For dinner, I took a clear walk out via parliament, and a very long way, full route. Ended up at "Elgin Street Freehouse" for dinner, had an Indian-fusion twist on steak, and did manage to find virgin Mojitos successfully. Nice 5km walk for exploring.