wl12xx merged

commit 00d8979d598d5461a06d800c779f15e03888d9d8
Author: Kalle Valo 
Date:   Wed Apr 29 23:33:31 2009 +0300

    wl12xx: add driver

    wl12xx is a driver for TI wl1251 802.11 chipset designed for embedded
    devices, supporting both SDIO and SPI busses. Currently the driver
    supports only SPI. Adding support 1253 (the 5 GHz version) should be
    relatively easy. More information here:


    (Collapsed original sequence of pre-merge patches into single commit for
    initial merge. -- JWL)

    Signed-off-by: Kalle Valo 
    Signed-off-by: Bob Copeland 
    Signed-off-by: John W. Linville 

Hooray, wl12xx is now in wireless-testing! As the commit log states, SDIO support isn’t there yet, because I haven’t written it yet. Well, I wrote some of it, but nothing worth even compile-testing yet.

As for the Android itself, I bought a snazzy serial breakout board for the phone so now I can do some real work on it. It works just fine with screen(1) as the terminal program.

Also, I solved the problem with booting: apparently the init program for 2.6.25 doesn’t work with 2.6.27 — when I put my own compiled init in the initramfs, everything mounted fine. The input devices now do not work, but I suspect it’s just a difference in paths and that an upgrade to 1.5 userland will fix all of that.


I was in fact wrong that my self-compiled android kernels weren’t booting — they were. But they do fail somewhere in init:. Unfortunately, when you boot the phone, you don’t have any idea why it fails because there’s no console by default. It would’ve been a lot easier to see this if I had a serial cable, but I did finally remember that I could use fbcon with the smallest font and CONFIG_PRINTK_DELAY to see the messages scroll by. And so now I see the problem:

init: Unable to open persistent property directory /data/property errno: 2
init: cannot find '/system/bin/sh', disabling 'console'
init: cannot find '/system/bin/servicemanager', disabling 'servicemanager'

Obviously, the init script can’t mount the mtd partitions, despite the partition tables being successfully probed at start and my having yaffs2 built-in. Oh well, at least now I have a direction to start debugging.

The 2.6.25 branch of the msm tree, incidentally, works fine with the stock initrd and userland, but who wants such an old kernel? Oh, and I changed my bootup logo to a shiny Tux instead of the default robot. “Android isn’t Linux” indeed.


The Android source code includes at least two ARM sub-architectures in their kernel tree. The one actually used on the G1 hardware is derived from the Qualcomm MSM machine type, at least part of which is in the mainline. Then there is “goldfish,” which appears to be just a pseudo machine used only for the emulator. While I haven’t had a lot of success with the MSM stuff booting on the phone so far, building the emulator kernel is not too hard once you know where to look:

# get the MSM specific tree.
# You don't really need it but might as
# well grab both up front into the same git repo.
$ git clone git://android.git.kernel.org/kernel/msm.git msm
$ cd msm

# also grab the common one for emulator target and check it out
$ git remote add common git://android.git.kernel.org/kernel/common.git
$ git fetch common
$ git checkout -b goldfish common/android-goldfish-2.6.27

$ cat <<_EOM >make-arm.sh
#! /bin/bash

# I use the codesourcery toolchain
PATH="$XGCC/arm-2008q3/bin/:$PATH" make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- "$@"

$ chmod 755 make-arm.sh
$ ./make-arm.sh goldfish_defconfig
$ ./make-arm.sh

Now the emulator can be run with something like:

$ export ANDROID_PRODUCT_OUT=`/bin/pwd`/out/target/product/dream
$ emulator -verbose -show-kernel -kernel msm/arch/arm/boot/zImage

Upstream Last

Building a booting kernel for Android using their own code still eludes me. I guess it would help if I knew anything at all about the ARM platform, as I have no idea what I am doing. Still, the code dump fails the “anyone should be able to build it” test rather strongly, judging from posts on the android mailing lists.

Build problems aside, the more egregious failure of the Android open source project is the lack of the “upstream first” mentality. Most Linux software providers follow this strategy to a large extent, which is simply: any patch that goes in my distribution should go to the mainline kernel first. The benefits are obvious: no need to maintain a fork forever, and everyone gets the goods as soon as possible. Even if the patch only serves the developer’s own interests, upstreaming it often has the benefit of vetting the interfaces and producing more universal APIs (the wakelocks discussion that followed the code dump is an example of this done backwards).

Google, however, sadly took the other road: get the product out the door, then worry about pushing bits upstream when we get a chance. The problem is “when we get a chance” never, ever happens, and there’s no motivation to push changes upstream when your product has shipped and it’s now forever in deep maintenance mode. That job of upstreaming is left to the community.

So far there’s no real indication (apart from the userland stuff) that you actually can build the G1 kernel and userland from the code dump. Google engineers are unclear whether everything on the phone is in the codebase (clearly some proprietary bits are not). Meanwhile they have their own fork of qemu, their own fork of the kernel, their own fork of webkit, and so on.

I suppose we should not fault Google too hard: after all, some code is better than no code at all. And if they want to maintain forks of .* forever, that is clearly their prerogative. However, had they worked more closely with the community at the start, the Android platform would be stronger today. They might already have a decent wireless driver, for example.

Fit to be TIed

The Android G1 phone uses the TI 1251 for Wifi.   This is pretty useful for when you need an internet connection for the laptop and there are no alternatives: you can bridge the wifi and the 3G connection and then connect to the wifi device using ad-hoc mode.  However, I normally keep the wireless off because it sucks down battery like mad.

But Kalle Valo from Nokia is working on a driver for the chip called wl12xx, and he is putting a lot of effort into making sure it uses power conservatively (presumably some future version of the Nokia internet tablets will be using this device).  This driver is SPI, whereas the G1 uses the same chip in SDIO mode.  So I started writing the SDIO port for the driver — hopefully it will be ready when wl12xx is included in mainline.

The TI reference code that actually runs on the G1 is, sorry to say, total crap.  It registers an interrupt handler that printk()s a static string.  It has unbalanced sdio_claim_host() calls.  And from a code style standpoint, well, there is none.  I suspect Valo’s driver will be a big step up if and when it can run on the Android.

Oh, and Google’s open source tree for the Android hasn’t built all weekend.  Great job!