I've got a fresh install of Debian Wheezy on my laptop, and for security reasons I would like to not have any proprietary firmware running on this system. However, I require the iwlwifi non-free microcode for my wireless card ...

Is there any way for me to use Xen or some other form of virtualization to install another copy of Debian in a virtual environment that does have the proprietary Intel binary firmware installed (and thus can use the wireless card), without having this firmware installed on the host environment?

  • 2
    I think you could do something with PCI passthrough, but then the wireless card will only be visible to the virtual environment. – Renan Sep 19 '14 at 1:59
  • Thanks Renan -- I'm reading through the Xen documentation on PCI passthrough now, and it's looking promising. And to clarify, I do not need or want wireless access on the host environment - I only want wifi in the virtualized environment. – J. Taylor Sep 19 '14 at 2:10
  • 1
    I don't think you'd get any benefit from this. The firmware runs on the wireless card, not the CPU, and the wireless card is still connected to your physical computer. Loading the firmware from a virtual machine doesn't change the access it has to your computer. – cjm Sep 19 '14 at 2:19
  • So there no way (via the iwlwifi module) that any of the proprietary firmware code is executing in kernel mode? I understand that it's ultimately loaded into the wireless card itself, but I'm wondering if at any point before/during/after this, the iwlwifi module is executing instructions from within the binary blob. If there is no way for to happen, then you would be correct - the primary thing I'm concerned about (proprietary code running in kernel mode) would not even be an issue then. – J. Taylor Sep 19 '14 at 2:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.