Cisco and GPL

This post would be talking about Cisco, busybox, GPL and different company strategies for the same.

Hi all,
I should have written about the above about a year aback but for one reason or the other but something or the other it just didn’t work out. I have been a D-Link user since end 2004/early 2005 when I brought a D-Link router. I was searching for a router which would talk or converse under GNU/Linux and not just a windows machine. So after searching a lot at that time settled for the D-Link 502T , in part due to 3 years warranty being given by them in the router.

One of the factors for me was that many of the D-Link routers were GPL’ed hence it should be easier in case of issues to update as things go forward.

The D-Link page for the same.

Now the reason why I wanted to write about this is because of FSF having to put up a lawsuit against Cisco. Few URL’s of the same.

Now many people don’t know that Cisco is the owner of Linksys.
This happened in 2003.

What is interesting is while Cisco says and I quote

Cisco is a strong supporter of open source software. Cisco takes its open source software obligations and responsibilities seriously and is disappointed that a suit has been filed by the Free Software Foundation related to our work with them in our Linksys Division. We are currently reviewing the issues raised in the suit but believe we are substantially in compliance. We have always worked very closely with the FSF and hope to reach a resolution agreeable to the company and the foundation.

Reference :-

The reality is somewhat different. Please see the Linksys WRT54G page on wikipedia for the same.

As one digs a little deeper, it seems that Linksys has been trying to subvert people’s ability to use third-party firmware.

What many people don’t know (including me) that Huawei is also pretty much GPL-complaint and does give busybox and other stuff on its routers and stuff. For e.g.

Netgear does the same

This tells that others find a value in using FLOSS and do take care to ensure that its known
and advertised properly.

Why is it necessary?

Simply because the Net has and needs open standards. I want to use my router/modem
to speak all the protocols, TCP/IP (v4 as well v6), VOIP, IPTV and stuff like that.

Also if you use proprietary firmware, the costs of the product would go up and it would be
unwieldy for users to use the same in case new services come up which could be given
using a small firmware update.

Morever I want to use/manipulate my router/modem using any browser which is able to
read/use HTML so it doesn’t need windows or Internet Explorer.

One of the shortcomings of the D-Link 502T which I found later is that model requires IE to save parameters to the router/modem so couldn’t do any changes to the same.

Here’s my busybox version and stuff for those who are so inclined.

$ telnet
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.

BusyBox on (none) login: admin

BusyBox v0.61.pre (2005.05.30-08:31+0000) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.


Suggestions, comments all are welcome. A Happy 2009 for all.

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3 thoughts on “Cisco and GPL

  1. Big electronic companies don’t give a flying fuck about open source software. They give a fuck about cutting costs and using the saved cash to stuff their arse pockets. Enter Linux and its company of GNU userland. The only reason any of them have offered source is because of the stink real supporters kicked up.

    All these big electronics companies shit in the same pot. When have these manufacturers ever really supported FOSS? All they’ve done is take, take, take, i havn’t seen a single router manufacturer make a significant donation to the cause, ever. As far as i see, none of the modifications to the sources ever make it back upstream or get released as patches either.

    Btw, FLOSS? What does any of this have to do with Dental care?

  2. Dear Nancy,

    While I couldn’t understand clearly your question whatever I could make out from the above is here :-

    The gpl source code center link is which does give the source code of the Cisco products under gpl . If you click on any of the models say the WRT54GL which links to which in turn shows you the product itself.

    As far as full specs. are concerned you would have to go to the linksys site (Asia Pacific in my case )

    The court case also has some stub material on the same issue on wikipedia

  3. Do you happen to know the source or download site that can able to provide full detail include specs of each Cisco products.

    in GPL it is only provide the title – description and price

    I need some GPL which can provide the full details, Specs, Dimension, Weight,Technical details.


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