[Battlemesh] What hardware still works?

Jonathan Morton chromatix99 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 19:00:51 CET 2016

>> I’m 100% sure that if such a regulation were passed and enforced
>> (which hasn’t happened yet, and almost certainly won’t), then it
>> would effectively outlaw ordinary PC laptops from having wifi.  The
>> outcry over *that* would be epic.
> Typical Lenovo (and other vendors) laptops ship with a BIOS white list
> that only allows a very limited subset of wireless modules since several
> years already, there wasn't much epic outcry over that.
> You could circumvent that by binary patching and reflashing the BIOS or
> by programming different PCI IDs into the MiniPCIe cards EEPROM (plus
> hacking the drivers to still recognize it), both of that requires a
> level of sophistication that is comparable to the current locked router
> situation...
> Granted, the situation with desktop PCs is not that bad yet but I guess
> this is mostly due to the fact that those are not highly portable.

Lenovo either seems to be an exception, or most of those whitelists include ath9k chipsets.  See the reviews on this card, where none of them say “it didn’t work in my laptop”, but at least two say “it works better than the one it came with":


I looked specifically for ath9k, because those require explicit configuration by the driver (due to being softmacs).  If there were any genuine concern about regulatory compliance associated with those whitelists, only hardmac chipsets would be allowed.

There are also motherboards with ath9k cards pre-fitted, still on sale in the US and Europe alike:


I found several models with AC support, but of course those use hardmac devices.  Still, it is supplied in a mini-PCIe socket.

The cost of providing this seems to be so low that motherboard OEMs (who are normally notorious penny-pinchers) mostly don’t bother providing models *without* wifi support in the (extremely cramped) Mini-ITX form factor.  Conversely, I can’t find any models *with* wifi included in the Micro-ATX form factor - though many do include an M.2 slot which could hold a miniPCIe card.

 - Jonathan Morton

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