Networking/Computing Tips/Tricks

One of the most popular routers on the planet is the Linksys WRT54G series.  We are also happy owners of this platform (version 2 to be exact).  Unfortunately, Cisco (as well as many other router vendors and their platforms) decided to stop offering support for this router through software upgrades.  This purposes certain challenges as for most people, these routers are perfectly good and support their home or small business needs.  Almost everyone is talking about changes to the Internet including support for IPv6 as well as much better flexibility in managing their home and small business network.

The answer from the manufacturers is essentially to toss these aging devices into the trash (like you would an old toaster) and purchase a new version with the latest features and capabilities.  Nothing wrong with that thinking, especially if you want Wireless N and the higher speeds that this may provide.

But what if you can't see the need for that change at this time?  And, you do not want to spend any money?  Well, we have an answer that we highly recommend.  Look, your platform is out of warranty.  With ours, it has been years since Cisco has supported the device.  These routers are computing platforms that focus on forwarding packets and as such can be upgraded.  So why not throw away the operating system running on the device and replace it with an after market one?  Here is where DD-WRT comes in.  Their web site can be found here.  The full list of the routers they support can be found here.  Make sure you know the exact model and version number of your device.

The upgrade procedure basically involved "flashing" or reinstalling the operating system provided by these fine folks into the router in a multi-step process.  As the web site will advise, this can be messed up if you do not have the EXACT version number of your device and follow the instructions VERY CAREFULLY.  We also recommend that you print out every screen of your current router configuration as you will be starting from scratch and there is no return!

Our process required that we had all the software on our computer first, that we took down the network, connected the router directly to our PC, and then performed multiple (3) reboots of the router, and two different pieces of software installed in a particular order to accomplish the process.  That said it took less than 30 minutes.

The result was in a word AWESOME!

The software that DD-WRT releases is at least an order of magnitude better than anything the manufacturer put on the device.  I can now create VLANs, I can monitor traffic and much more.  Here are some screen shots:

This is the VLAN page:



This is the router hardware and loading screen:



Check out the bandwidth (Upload and Download) reporting:



Curious about wireless node performance?  No problem:



Want to see bandwidth usage over time, in real time?  Again, no problem (available for WLAN as well, just not shown):



This type of thing just blows the OEM stuff away.  Nothing in the Linksys software supported any of the features above.  Best of all it is free!  We were so impressed, we made a donation to the open source development team.  So keep your router, upgrade it, and see what it can really do!


Comments welcome!




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