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Author Topic: 3rd party open source router firmware installation complete  (Read 2203 times)
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« on: March 20, 2008, 12:10:21 AM »

i have owned perhaps the most popular router on the market over the last few years: the Linksys WRT54G and i have felt inadequate at its lack of configurability and options for a while now.  so i researched open source firmware and noted that a lot of firmware was started just for this router, although many others have now been added to the list.  go to DD-WRT home page to get list of available routers if you ever really want to do this.  Linksys actually made the WRT54G the best up to v. 4 b/c starting with v. 5, they cock blocked open source users by halving the amount of vram and flash memory, so one could not put the firmware on their router--thereby displaying one of the beauties of capitalism: making a product shittier and shitter to try to maximize shareholder's wealth through cutting expenses.  but apparently there was lashback in the community so they came out with a special one called WRT54GL (L for linux) that took the memory back up to the normal size, allowing full size firmware upgrade.  so i purhased it on for $60 with a $10 rebate that will make it $50 total, if i can motivate myself to send in the rebate form one of these days...

as i was paranoid about bricking my router i read every possible link i could and had all my pages set out on separate computer before i went about trying this.  some warned about not using firefox and only IE for this operation, so i opted to use IE just to be on the safe side even though others tried it successfully using firefox.  another warning was to only do this with an ethernet cord, not wirelessly, but i would have thought that was somewhat common sense but i guess it never hurt to not warn people to not stick fingers under lawn mower while it is running.  other warnings were to install in two steps: first with the mini version firmeware and then the full size firmware.  since i read my particular version router had been successfully installed skipping the mini firmware, i went right for the full size, figuring it was just as risky expecting myself to do it right twice as it was to do it once directly to the full version, and since everyone on one blog site did it successfully skipping the mini version first install, I'd save time and just take the plunge.  other routers might not be allow the full version install directly from factory firmware, so do full research on this before you just up and plunge into it, lest you have a new plastic paper weight.

anyway,  i downloaded the latest stable generic version (no specific version for the WRT54GL) and then went about uploading it to replace the stock Linksys firmware.  after the upgrade i did a hard reboot, which i had never done before, which was interesting, but it worked for me, so i suggest doing the same: press reset for 30 secs, then while still holding reset down, unplug the router for 30 secs, then plug it back in and wait 30 more secs.  finally, you can let the reset button go.  kinda scary at first b/c it would not ping the router, but then it would ping it but still would not allow me to access the router home page.  i then rebooted the pc and soon afterward was able to access the newly installed DD-WRT software--a great relieving feeling!

reasons for going DD-WRT was b/c it is the most popular, although Tomato is said to be very good too.  working remotely using up to 4 pc's i had run out of ports to configure on my standard port configuration table, and DD-WRT allows you to add many more as you need them.  also, i am sick of my WRT54G going from a wireless signal of 54mbps down to as slow as 1 mbps at times for no good apparent reason.  i am only 12 feet away from the unit and it doesn't matter where i position the laptop or the Linksys antennas, it will still suffer this problem.  i hope to see if the DD-WRT software helps correct this problem.  one can also boost their signal strength over stock, although i'd actually be lowering mine (coincidentally i am w/o my laptop right now so i cannot test this) as i belive in using the lowest amount of transmit power necessary, depending on distance.  i used to have a different modem/router and it had built in power setting adjustment and its default was 10 but i set it to 1 and i still got 100% signal b/c i was 12 feet away.

another reason i wanted open source firmware was to experiment with wake on lan.    i was able to get WOL to work inside my network already, but not able to wake up sending magic packets from outside network b/c you can't configure a port to be forwarded to a pc that is asleep since it won't have a current IP until it is on.  the old Linksys firmware would not allow me to configure a port as a broadcast address, but had it allowed for this what is needed is for a common port like port 9 to be forwarded to on subnet so it will be the broadcast IP and send it to all ports and only the port that matches that MAC address will match that pc that needs to be awoken.  but even if that didn't work on the new firmware one can set the router up for remote administration and access its built in WOL function from there and wake up whatever pc's they wish.  which brings me to a good question: are there any caveats about router remote administration?  should i be too paranoid about my router being accessed on the internet?

other reasons for getting this WRT54GL was just b/c i always wanted to try DD-WRT and see what the boys are all having orgasms over.  i hope to have one myself now that i have completed installation and i just need to swap out my old router and get to using it.

for the record, i had an old Belkin wired router that i thought was bricked b/c it would not allow me to access its normal setup page and was coming up as for more than one thing whenever i ipconfig'ed.  i tried unplugging several times and resetting but nothing worked.  then i tried the hard reset technique mentioned above and after doing it twice (but pulling the ethernet out after the plug was first pulled), it finally reset it to factory settings and i was able to access it.  in the future i will eventually have a wireless N gigabit router, but 54mbps 10/100 is still all i'm set up for and a Linksys router with DD-WRT already installed carries good resell value on ebay, so it was worth getting a new router for me to try it.

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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2008, 06:26:14 AM »

Thanks for the info man. Good to know - I'll be moving in 2 days and I'll probably need to buy a new router.

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