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Open source EtherY on sourceforge.net

By Chris Williams. Published: 17th Aug 2003, 15:07:09 | Permalink | Printable

Secrets of the DCI4 unlocked, new drivers planned

Open Source RISC OSTheo Markettos has opened a sourceforge.net hosted project for an open source RISC OS DCI4 networking driver. The work is based on Castle's EtherY driver for their 10/100Mbit ethernet podules. The EtherY driver was quietly sneaked out into the public under the GPL by Castle earlier in the year.

In March, there was some fuss over the DCI4 specification when developers called for the specification to be made public. The DCI4 specification is confidential due to security concerns, however Theo's project ought to provide enough material for developers to create suitable drivers for ethernet devices.

"I'm working on porting EtherY to the CS8900 on my A4 ethernet card", Theo informed drobe.co.uk.

"At the moment I'm trying to work out the best way to do this - borrowing source from FreeBSD seems the best way so far. I'm also thinking how to generalise it to make such ports easier - but any driver is going to need substantial modification when porting.

"In general, the idea is to open up the EtherY sources for others to contribute to or make use of. Anyone else is welcome to join the development or start another branch for other targets - I think development is going to be more along the bramble model (lots of sideways branches going in different directions) than the traditional Scot's Pine model (straight up) at least initially, perhaps unifying later."

We can't stress enough how RISC OS needs device drivers to take advantage of newer hardware and Theo's project should aid anyone wishing to port ethernet drivers to RISC OS. Currently the SMSC LAN91C111 chipset is supported and a port is "underway" for the Cirrus Logic CS89x0 series. The project's source code can be downloaded via CVS.

Links

Open source DCI4 driver development

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Discussion

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At last. This is one of the main reasons why RISC OS doesn't have a packet sniffer. Perhaps someones porting project could make inroads in this area. :)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 17/8/03 8:06PM
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Well, there already is some form of packet sniffer...

[link]

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 17/8/03 9:46PM
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Personally I think that saying that the DCI4 spec is "confidential due to security concerns" is just a load of nonsense. There's nothing very special in it. I suspect it was more that Acorn never felt it worth the effort involved in tidying it up into a publically releasable form; anyone who needed it could always get it by asking (and still can I'm sure).

Still, now that ownership of RISC OS has changed, it might be worth asking Castle to finally make it generally available.

I would also advise looking at FreeBSD as a first port of call for adapting device drivers. As the rest of the Internet stack is BSD-derived there are some advantages, though the DCI4 interface to the OS is rather different compared to both BSD and Linux.

 is a RISC OS Userjbyrne on 17/8/03 11:57PM
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We asked Castle and ROL earlier in the year; Castle said it was ROL's call, ROL said Pace might not like their kit's networking tecnhicals available to all. ROL were still issuing copies of the DCI4 spec under NDA, at the time.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 18/8/03 12:02AM
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So maybe someone will finally make a PLIP driver for RISC OS. It must be the only platform without one.

-- Julian G. F. Zimmerle

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 18/8/03 1:19AM
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Releasing information about security problems only helps if it's possible to upgrade to fix the problem, seeing as many of the drivers for RISC OS network cards aren't supported any more, plus the slight problem of them being in ROM it's probably a good idea to keep problems secret.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 18/8/03 9:05AM
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Or at least say "There is a problem. If you're scared, go buy something new."

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 18/8/03 12:10PM
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mavhc: I think you missed my point. I was trying to say I thought that talk of "security" issues is a red herring. There really isn't anything very special in DCI4. It just says how network cards interface with the rest of the OS. It's not really any more or less of a security issue than many of the other published APIs, and there aren't any mysterious "problems" that publication of the spec would reveal.

James

 is a RISC OS Userjbyrne on 18/8/03 6:53PM
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These days the world and it's dog can sniff a ethernet network, There's even software which manages to do it, though because of lack of DCI docs, you have to kill the internet module first, it don't play with friends.

And if that argument isn't good enough, somone go and put Encryption for passwords into AUN :)

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 19/8/03 5:03PM
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"Passwords" and "AUN" are not phrases that can be used together. At least, not in the context of ethernet packets.

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 19/8/03 9:28PM
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Gawd that's crap. "Passwords" and "Access" aren't phrases that can be used together. Passwords and AUN can. Sorry. Stupid.

 is a RISC OS UserGerph on 22/8/03 3:11AM
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