SAX 2007 and WSFII

International Summit of Free Networks 2007 in Catalonia (SAX2007 & WSFII)

creat: Dij, 05/04/2007 - 23:55 — rilat - actualitzat: 15/7/07 23:25

This year, the traditional meeting for the free civil networks in Catalonia (SAX)
will be extended to new contents, will take a week and will be extended to new 
participants worldwide and therefore affiliated to the WSFII 
(World  Summit for Free Information Infrastructures). ...

We lived in the house of Ramon Roca, the initiator of We were taken care of with marvelous hospitality (Thanks to Ramon, Roger and all the others! I never had so much good food). And not to forget the size of network (technically AND socially). The time there was really overwhelming!

WSFII Workshop on Wireless Open Hardware

With my agenda in mind to go to Taiwan and talk to OEM’s about building FLOSS WIFI hardware I initiated a workshop to let the community define their needs.

created: Tue, 10/07/2007 – 21:49 — JuergeN – updated: 11/7/07 01:36

Today, July 10th, 2007, we had a fantastic 3 hour workshop with more than 20 participants from different european and us projects on open wireless hardware. The task was to distinguish how “Open Hardware” could be defined and to describe two kinds of accesspoints, a very simple one – a simple node – and a more complex one, which people in Catalunia call a super node.

The aim of these definitions shall be, that they can be given to various hardware manufacturers in the world, hoping that one or more of them are going to build these devices. We are all very positive that the various free wireless communities around the globe will make extensive use of these devices so that the manufacturers’ efforts will pay off.

The definition of Open Hardware was defined to be a system that runs a free open source software (FOSS) based operating system with full FOSS driver support for all included components, plus a freely available complete documentation on the entire hardware and its design.

The device should be shipped with a FOSS operating system. Amongst the attendees of the workshop the most preferred OS would be OpenWRT plus a nice and well designed webGUI on top of it.

Regarding the prices, these systems should be as inexpensive as possible at the places they are used, which might also be achieved by special distributions in bigger charges with less packaging (10,50,100 boards in one box) for communities.

1. Simple Node

- single wireless a/b/g radio device with support for virtual access points
- single Ethernet port with high tolerance PoE support (4-30V)
- power system must resist reverse polarity
- 4 Mbyte Flash
- 16 Mbyte RAM
- 200 MHz CPU
- serial port
- JTAG interface
- one Antenna plug (reverse SMC) and no explicit need for diversity
- for outdoor usage (which is regarded to be a standard scenario) the board
  does not need a box and does not need to be shipped with antenna and power supply
- power consumption should be as little as possible (solar systems!)

Comment: Finding the consensus on the design for the simple node was quite easy
and did not take very long. It seams that the needs and wishes of the different
groups represented by the attendees are very similar.

2. Super Node

- two embedded wireless a/b/g radio devices with support for virtual access points
- two Ethernet ports with standard 802.3af PoE support
- power system must resist reverse polarity
- 8 Mbyte Flash
- 32 Mbyte RAM
- 500 MHz CPU
- two USB 2.0 ports
- two miniPCI slots (both stackable up to 8 cards)
- serial port
- JTAG interface
- two Antenna plugs (reverse SMC) and no explicit need for diversity
- for outdoor usage (which is regarded to be a standard scenario) the board
  does not need a box and does not need to be shipped with antennas and power supply
- power consumption should be as little as possible (solar systems!)

Comment: Finding a compromise on the super node really was a hard time, because there
can be different ways to achieve the same goals. For example, if wireless USB devices
had a better FOSS support, many of the super nodes could just easily be built without
the need for miniPCI. Also super nodes can be built with simple wireless bridges 
connected over ethernet (high power consumption?). But anyway, after many looong
discussions the group had a consensus on the points listed above.

3. wireless USB devices

As already mentioned, super nodes could well be build using wireless USB devices
instead of mini PCI cards (less expensive cabling, less interference between the
devices). But to be able to use them, people need FOSS drivers for them, which 
support all wireless modes (managed, ad-hoc, AccessPoint), and the USB devices
should have a reverse SMC antenna connector.

Outcome of WSFII Engagement

The fact that through WSFII many international guests came to rural Catalunia helped to raise the public attention for the local intiative. Many press people and local politicians came to talk to the “foreigners” that could of course not say things any better than the local people could. But even in Catalunia it seemed that the grass is always greener on the other side ;-). Anyway, in 2007 due to press coveridge and follow ups of meetings with the local government finally the Catalan community with over 3000 wireless nodes in rural Catalunia received the National award of Telecommunications for their self-made wireless community network.

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