in Hardware, Networking, Technology

home router replaced!

I finally decided to replace my FreeBSD-based Sun Ultra 10-based home router. There were a couple of reasons for this:

  1. I was running FreeBSD 5.x, which meant that the keyboard wouldn’t work — I could only control the system remotely over SSH or through a serial console. This was fixed in later versions of FreeBSD 5.x but I didn’t want to bother upgrading, since the box isn’t the fastest machine
  2. Using a desktop workstation for routing and running ppp consumes more power than it’s worth, and makes a fair amount of noise
  3. Using an 400 MHz UltraSparc III-based workstation with 512 MB of ECC RAM for a simple firewall and router seemed like a bit of overkill 🙂
  4. I want to free up the Ultra 10 for testing out Solaris 10 and possibly upgrading my Solaris 9 SCSA designation.
  5. I want to (finally!) equip my home with wireless… yes, I’m a little late getting on the bandwagon.

I decided to buy a MIPS-based Linksys WRT54G-based wireless router, but there was no way I was going to be running Linksys’ crappy firmware on it. Immediately after purchasing the device, I flashed the firmware with DD-WRT which offers a truckload of additional features, all of which are listed on the DD-WRT Wiki. I won’t be using all of the features, but the key ones for me are:

  • SSH to the router
  • WPA 802.11g security
  • Syslog to remote server
  • IPv6 Support
  • Port Forwarding
  • SNMP Monitoring
  • OpenVPN Support

So far, I’m very impressed with the new firmware. I’m particularly impressed that you can even configure the router ports to do VLANs!

Of course, the firmware is nothing more than a stripped-down version of Linux for MIPS. SSH-ing into the box shows that it’s powered by a BroadCom BCM4712 216MHz CPU, oddly without an FPU, since DD-WRT has to load an “Algorithmics/MIPS FPU Emulator v1.5”.

For now, I’ve disabled wireless access entirely until I have a chance to set up WPA. Ideally I’d like to find a solution other than PSK, because I really don’t want to have to distribute a massive key to every client that might connect to my network.

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  1. It was, actually… all of the newer WRT54G's use VxWorks and contain less RAM, so they're not even hackable. I had to buy a WRT54GS (S == SpeedBooster) for about $15 more.

    Apparently Linksys got so many complaints over the WRT54G being switched to VxWorks that they repackaged the old WRT54G as a WRT54GL (and are now charging you some premium on top of the WRT54G list price) for the privilege of having one.