Saying that the development of the Bug WiFi module has been a serious undertaking is a perhaps an understatement. Current and potential Bug users have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a technology that is taken for granted in the world of closed source hardware and NDA restricted device drivers. Its easy to scoff at and criticise the absence of wifi on the Bug, and from a distant perspective I could agree that the absence of that kind of connectivity is unacceptable. Contrary to what many would believe, most WiFi chipsets are inherently open source unfriendly, making it a total nightmare for a project like Bug. So, after a monumental coding effort by Angel Roman, we now see light at the end of the tunnel, and things are starting to move into very exciting territory.
Just this week, we received a number of revised wifi modules for in house testing. This is the first time that developers other than Angel have got their hands on WiFi for the Bug. As part of the revision, our hardware guys switched to a Marvell 88W8686 based component from wi2wi. Since the old embedded works chipset was based on the same Marvell core, no driver changes were necessary, and Angel's work was not for naught. What's really great is that the new chipset included a special treat.
In addition to having WiFi on the Bug (which is totally rocks btw), the new chipset provides a Bluetooth Host Controller Interface...After some kernel tweaking, and the installation of BlueZ as provided by OpenEmbedded, Angel and I are delighted to announce that Bug has functional Bluetooth capabilities. Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, there's still testing and development work to be done, so please don't quote this post as an official announcement that the Bug has Bluetooth. I might be wrong, but a visit to the BlueZ homepage yielded precitically zero documentation. Their wiki has a bunch of Python and DBUS related stuff on there which we may get into shortly, but its not useful right now. Despite this, we were able to scan for Bluetooth devices in the area, and were able to pair the Bug up with my iPhone. We attempted doing a Bluetooth 3G tethering with Angel's phone, and while we were successful accessing the phone as a modem device, we had trouble getting a ppp connection with tmobile.
Seeing the Bug evolve at an exponentially growing pace like this, given the small crew of developers, is what I love about working here. Bluetooth and WiFi are nothing new to computing, so obviously there wil be those that say "So what, this isn't really a big deal"...Perhaps thats true. But then again, there's the implications and the expanded potential of what the Bug can now do, the integration of features that have been waiting for these capabilities, like BUGnet and BUGdata...Thats the big deal, and I think thats something to get pretty amped about...