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Wireless Networking Software Upgrades Hardware Linux

Creating A Super-Router (For Free) 329

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-own-the-hardware-that-is dept.
Aaron writes "Kind of an interesting discussion and story over at Broadband Reports about the flurry of vendors releasing modified Linux based firmware updates for the Linksys WRT54G router. The updates bring a whole new level of functionality Linksys couldn't be bothered to incorporate. Among a long list of free improvements is the incorporation of bandwidth management, allowing users to end the days of choppy VoIP conversations without swapping out hardware."
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Creating A Super-Router (For Free)

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  • by yebb (142883) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:13AM (#8180111)
    Want to hack your Linksys WRT54G Router yourself?

    Here's a detailed guide [seattlewireless.net] on how to do just that.

  • by unbiasedbystander (660703) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:14AM (#8180127)
    It's wonderful to learn that I could have powered it up before I sold the piece of junk. *sigh* www.ebay.com
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sweet! I hope you spelled the listing incorrectly; I'll be picking up my "Linkys wrt54g router" on the cheap!
  • Wondershaper... (Score:5, Informative)

    by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:15AM (#8180140)
    For those of you that don't know, and are interested, Wondershaper can be found HERE [lartc.org].

    It is AMAZING.

    Sample config:

    DOWNLINK=6000
    UPLINK=200
    DEV=eth0

    # low priority source ports
    NOPRIOPORTSRC="6881 6882 6883 6884 6885 6886 6887 6888 6889 80"

    Sets those ports to only use up 200k of my 256k upstream leaving me the rest for SSH etc. I never have any problems w/my remote connection speeds this way. It's fantastic.

    I have only had a single problem, recently, with Debian unstable... It removed my libatm for some reason. I reinstalled that and all was well.

    Highly recommended for everyone, not just users of this "hackable" router.
    • by wizarddc (105860) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:26AM (#8180254) Homepage Journal
      Are you implying that your file sharing habits are infrgining on your ability to SSH? I mean, I like porn and mp3's as much as the next geek, but like Chris Rock said, put the dick down.
    • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia (6573) *
      BTW:

      This runs as a simple shell script on the "router". If you want less bandwith for those ports just change the UPLINK and rerun the shell script. Changes are reflected immediately.

      Honestly, when the libatm wasn't working with Debian unstable, I looked at other options but wondershaper was still the fastest and easiest!
    • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ic3p1ck (597610)
      Yes traffic shaping is great, but is still not up to ensuring stable pings times for latency sensitive online games (e.g. Q3 + mods). The problem is the packet sizes. A large packet of typical MTU (1500) takes 10s of millseconds to be uploaded (on adsl - 256Kb/s), holding up higher priority traffic.

      Still, its much much better than not shaping :)

      (Yes, I know the MSS can be reduced, however that messes up overall transfer rates).
    • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:5, Informative)

      by pacman on prozac (448607) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:05PM (#8181120)
      Sets those ports to only use up 200k of my 256k upstream leaving me the rest for SSH etc.

      Not quite, you're shaping your entire uplink to 200kb and not using the extra at all. To quote the wondershaper source:
      # shape everything at $UPLINK speed - this prevents huge queues in your
      # DSL modem which destroy latency:
      # main class

      tc class add dev $DEV parent 1: classid 1:1 cbq rate ${UPLINK}kbit \
      allot 1500 prio 5 bounded isolated


      Thats the class all uploads are shaped through. If you read the script all the other traffic classes are set with parent 1:1 which is the classid of the above. With tc you have to run all traffic through the available classes otherwise it gets 0kb rather than any remaining bandwidth, I accidently broke a netcafe once by forgetting to put DNS traffic into any class. Wondershaper does actually assign all traffic to 3 classes within the above, each with differing priority.

      The ports you mention are given lower priority but within that class, so within that bandwidth set in $UPLINK.
      • Bit lame replying to myself but while we're on the subject:

        You can mark packets from iptables rules and tc can read those marks and use them to classify traffic by using the mangle rules and --set-mark.

        Sounds simple but that gives you incredible power to setup QoS on linux routers. You can provide QoS on any of the filters iptables uses, so for instance you could use the layer 7 protocol filters (experimental) and limit traffic by protocol even if it's running over non-standard ports.

        Afaik no Cisco/Junip
      • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shakrai (717556) *
        Not quite, you're shaping your entire uplink to 200kb and not using the extra at all. To quote the wondershaper source:

        Yeah, but isn't that intentional? I'm looking at Wondershaper right now myself (this is the first I've heard of it) because I want to be able to use SSH while running Bittorrents -- if I max out my upload (approx 390-400kbit -- Roadrunner) my ping times go to 700ms and any web surfing/downloads go to hell (not to mention ssh/telnet).

        As I read the Wondershaper faq it seems to suggest that

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:15AM (#8180143)
    Cisco only bought Linksys to prevent their routers from getting more advanced and competing with their expensive stuff.
    • There is a LOT of truth to this.

      Last month, my company was looking for a replacement for the overly expensive, hard to manage firewall. Our favorite consultants (who seem think we are idiots and yet don't understand the words "packet filtering") tried to sell us on a Cisco firewall device that was something like $2000. I thought this was insane, seeing as all we needed was a nice interface to ipchains (nobody but me knows Linux here, so that wasn't an option). I look at LinkSys, but they didn't have anything which would do anything more advanced than direct NAT. This seemed strange to me, as at home I had a Linksys firewall router that allowed me to do pretty much whatever I liked when it came to mapping ports and setting up load balancing.

      Dlink -- who used to be a direct competitor to Linksys in every segment of the market -- had an awesome device which rivalled the features of the Cisco router for only $300. I had a problem with the first one they sent out, got good support and they sent me a replacement. I had that one up and running in an afternoon without a problem (well, with one problem, but that was due to the Cisco cable router, not the Dlink). And we saved so much money, we could afford a nice spam filter and a new development server. And the new device has a nice, fairly unbuggy web interface that is way easier to use than plain ipchains/iptables with MOST of the functionality (it does bomb out after a certain number of NAT mappings, but since this thing is only 300 MHz I suppose that's for the best).
      • by leerpm (570963) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:08PM (#8180609)
        The difference between the Cisco routers and the low-end DLink/NetGear are that the former are much more stable, and a lot of the routing logic is hardware based so they are able to scale & perform much better than the latter.

        I don't know why they would want to hold back Linksys development though, especially for things such as IPv6. They are a smart company, so I cannot figure out why they think holding back development of Linksys is going to advance their cause of spreading the use of IPv6.

        There are lots of people who use Linksys, but are not willing to spend a lot of extra cash just to get a Cisco box so they can do IPv6. And the more people that demand IPv6, the more ISPs are going to have to buy new Cisco hardware to upgrade their higher-end routers.
        • IMHO, widespread IPv6 adoption isn't going to come from customers forcing it on ISPs, it will come from ISPs forcing it on customers. IPv6 benefits the people in charge of managing really large networks, which isn't end users. Right now, ISPs can keep going using NAT, DHCP, and private networks to avoid switching over, but eventually they'll switch to IPv6 when the pain of the switchover is less than the pain of maintaining the system.
        • Lets not forget Linksys [linksys.com] is owned by Cisco these days. I hope they are not stupid enough to sell a router for $2000 under the cisco brand, but only $150 under Linksys.
        • by NerveGas (168686) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:06PM (#8181123)
          and a lot of the routing logic is hardware based so they are able to scale & perform much better than the latter

          That's only true if you're not doing anything but routing. Start adding in any features that are remotely useful, and you've gone from CEF/fast switching to process switching. And that means you take a 5x to 10x performance hit.

          You actually have to purchase a *VERY* expensive Cisco to get one that can't be out-performed by even a relatively modest PC.

          And even on the high-end, there are PC's that will completely blow away any but the very largest offerings from Cisco.

          There are, of course, several real advantages to using a Cisco router instead of a PC. First and foremost, if you have the money for it, you're going to be able to find a network interface for almost any type of network you can imagine. DSL to SONET, the interfaces are there for the buying. I'd *almost* say that they would "just work", but that's not always the case. I just had to upgrade the IOS versio on one of my Ciscos (a *paid* upgrade) to get nothing but support for an additional ethernet WIC.

          Another large (perhaps HUGE) advantage is the fact that as long as you want to keep paying the money for it, there will always be someone there to back you up and make sure your problem gets resolved, even if you're not capable of fixing it yourself.

          So, I'm not saying that there's no use for Cisco. I'm just saying that absolute performance (and especially price-for-performance) are not real advantages for them.

          I don't know why they would want to hold back Linksys development though

          You can't? Let's think about it: Do you think they'd rather sell a $200 Linksys router, or a $2,000+ Cisco router?

          I know, it sounds cynical. Unfortunately, I've worked in enough corporations to know that is *exactly* how decisions are made on these things.

          They'll keep the Linksys line around for the low-end market, the home users that don't demand much. But for anything above that, they're never going to let Linksys compete with their Cisco line. They're not stupid.

          steve
        • by bani (467531) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @03:29PM (#8182553)
          "a lot of the routing logic is hardware based"

          No it isnt. Not in a $2000 cisco.

          You need a (starting at)$15k cisco for that.

          The $2k ciscos are all bottom-end ciscos which do everything in CPU and software.
    • by dagnabit (89294) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:02PM (#8181087) Homepage
      I have a friend who used to work at Cisco. After the Linksys acquisition, they put management barriers in place so that people from the Cisco side of the house would be blocked from "infiltrating" and/or influencing Linksys with anything Cisco-related.

      Cisco (at the time anyway) wanted to keep them "as is"... dunno if that's still the case or not.
  • Linksys isn't bad (Score:2, Informative)

    Linksys isn't bad at updating their firmware. I was able to update my cheap wireless router so that it supports WPA for free.
  • by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:16AM (#8180148) Homepage
    While my router will update normal DynDNS addresses, it can't update Custom DNS, so my own domain name I have to update from a machine instide my network. I'd rather the router take care of that.

    Regardless, my router's a Netgear, so I'm guessing this isn't really applicable here. Although it would be nice to see similar projects for other routers, if possible.
    -N
  • by JediTrainer (314273) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:16AM (#8180151)
    I currently own a BEFSR81 [linksys.com], which is their 8-port wired version (no wireless) that I purchased a couple of years ago.

    It's got built-in QoS, which can prioritize traffic. You can choose low or high priority based on either your IP port number, or one of the LAN ports (at least, the first four).

    I've tried it out, and it worked pretty well when I needed to slow down BitTorrent so that my dad could use his web browser and email (otherwise, BitTorrent was eating *all* of my bandwidth).

    It wasn't great for having fine control, but it worked well enough to solve the problem for me.
    • Try Azureus [sourceforge.net]. It's an open sourced bit torrent implementation written in Java that I like a lot more than the other ones I've tried. You can set the max upload rate among other useful settings.
  • Not true (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:17AM (#8180154)
    One of the problems with VoIP has been choppy communications when users are making heavy use of their broadband connection.

    Tha t's abs olutel y n ot true.

    -- Reg ards
    Sanf ord Wall ace [wired.com]

  • For free? (Score:5, Funny)

    by burgburgburg (574866) <splisken06.email@com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:17AM (#8180155)
    Is that free as in beer, free as in software, free as in "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, Nothing, and that's all that Bobbie left me" or free as in "If you free me from these handcuffs now, I promise not to press charges". I always get them confused.
  • by davids-world.com (551216) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:17AM (#8180163) Homepage
    i'd like to recommend the Neo firmware hack [seattlewireless.net], which boosts the Linksys WAP54G output. That solved some problems for me :)

    Is that linux based system available for the WAP as well? (Dunno if it's got enough RAM & flash memory to run&store it...)

    • As the AC said, this will violate the FCC type certification.

      Also, I doubt that people have done much spectral analysis to see if it's dirty like the WAP11 hack (which actually wasn't as dirty as first thought). I've also heard rumors (I tend not to believe either side of an argument) that upping the power drives the power amp harder which could be bad to both it's life and heat spilling into other components could lessen their life too.

      Currently people are testing the power-hack on the WRT54G... so fa
      • which could be bad to both it's life and heat spilling into other components could lessen their life too

        Which is a disaster for an $80 product which will be well and truly obsolete before it dies a natural death. Also, I think the FCC would have a hard time catching you and I can see them dragging you off to prison for it.
      • by tgd (2822) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:29PM (#8181336)
        But its worth noting that 802.11* is in open frequency ranges, and if you have a amateur radio operators license, these power levels are perfectly legal. Max power at that range I can legally broadcast is 2500w, which will cook you from across the room in short order.

        There's no good reason to, however. These use lousy transmitters, and S/N goes way downhill as you boost power levels. Quadrupling the power could end up cutting your speeds in half at the expense of a bit more distance.
    • by swfranklin (578324) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:11PM (#8180645) Journal
      Please, unless you live waaay out in the sticks.... the 2.4GHz band is getting crowded enough; cranking up your WAP output by 4 times just so you can use a laptop in the basement crapper can be a very un-neighborly thing to do. I'm having a hard time coming up with a channel that isn't being stomped on or stomping on someone else's nearby WLAN.
      • I'm having a hard time coming up with a channel that isn't being stomped on or stomping on someone else's nearby WLAN.
        802.11b and 802.11g only have three non-overlapping channels: 1, 6, and 11.

        So your useful choices are fairly limited. You might have to coordinate with your neighbors to determine who picks what channel, but it should definitely be possible to get one that doesn't overlap.

  • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:18AM (#8180166) Homepage Journal
    Combine this with a good Broadband/DSL provider and Vonage and you've just freed yourself from the tyranny that is Verizon...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:18AM (#8180176)
    In order for this to be true, where is my free Linksys router?
  • Very important story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quixote (154172) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:18AM (#8180177) Homepage Journal
    There's a very important lesson hidden in here, which I hope the other hardware vendors will see and take note.

    Linksys is a hardware company. They make money by selling hardware. By opening up the software (and making their hardware "hackable"), they will increase their hardware sales.

    My hope is that other hardware companies (you name 'em: ATI, nVidia, Intel, Broadcom, Logitech, etc. etc.) will see this, and make their drivers (and associated software) open-source, thereby making their products "hackable" ==> increased sales.

    I hope the "media" will take note of this, and put it out in plain words so that the PHBs who make the decisions will learn the lesson.

    • by Kishar (83244)
      Linksys is a hardware company.

      Linksys is now owned by Cisco Systems, who considers themselves to be a software company.
      • Cisco is very much a hardware company. Their hardware requires some software to operate, and they found software licensing terms quite useful when all the failed dotcom hardare was hitting the market cheap, but they are still in the hardware business. It's interesting that this would be so easy to add, and isn't probably because there is a Cisco VoIP router for enterprises that costs 10 times as much and does the same thing.
    • by junkymailbox (731309) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:30AM (#8180290)
      They also take an increase risk in people screwing their hardware up and damaging their reputation .. or arguably worse .. try to get a warranty / refund.
    • Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by binaryDigit (557647) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:33AM (#8180309)
      Linksys is a hardware company. They make money by selling hardware. By opening up the software (and making their hardware "hackable"), they will increase their hardware sales.

      That's a very simplistic view of the world and one that only works if the hardware manufacturer only sells a single product or has large jumps in capabilities between products within a family. Suppose Linksys intended to supply many of these features in a more expensive (i.e. more profitable) version of the router. They're now hosed as it is now possible for users to upgrade their firmware for free. So sure, they sell more of the cheaper routers, but this is not what they want. This problem will occur anywhere hardware manufacturers try to take advantage of hardware commonality and differentiating similar products through software based features.

      Another potential issue is fighting "cloners". If Taiwanese company CloneCo now has easy access to the software feature set, they "merely" have to develop a clone architecture to run the now readily available software.
      • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

        by leerpm (570963)
        That's a very simplistic view of the world and one that only works if the hardware manufacturer only sells a single product or has large jumps in capabilities between products within a family. Suppose Linksys intended to supply many of these features in a more expensive (i.e. more profitable) version of the router. They're now hosed as it is now possible for users to upgrade their firmware for free. So sure, they sell more of the cheaper routers, but this is not what they want. This problem will occur anywh
        • Re:Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LostCluster (625375) *
          Cisco now has three very distinct product lines...

          - "Network Everywhere" which is now being called "Network Everywhere by Linksys"... which is for generic-level parts such as basic NIC cards and dumb hubs. You'll find this line at Wal*Mart, and it's Cisco's entry into the low-end market.
          - "Linksys" is aimed at the advanced home consumer. The trademark here is the "blue box" which is stackable, but not directly rackable. (There are a few rack-mount Linksys products, those are exceptions to the rule because
    • While I agree in point with what you're saying, the company only makes profit compared to their competitors if the software on the product has become a commodity, e.g. anyone can get it, investing lots of time and money into the software won't give you a large advantage over your competitor.

      If there are highly features in this router software that nobody else has and Linksys releases it, they've just saved their competitors time. This analysis works even better when thinking about NVidia / ATI.

      Cheers
    • by kiwimate (458274) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:38AM (#8180357) Journal
      From the posted story:

      The updates bring a whole new level of functionality Linksys couldn't be bothered to incorporate.

      From the parent post:

      There's a very important lesson hidden in here, which I hope the other hardware vendors will see and take note.

      Why would they, when the story gets picked up by the open source community (represented here by Slashdot) and is immediately regurgitated using phrasing which insults a company that is actually doing something we like? Perhaps other people see it differently, but if I were a Linksys person reading this, I'd be pretty bugged by the "couldn't be bothered" cheap shot. Especially for a product that is apparently under a hundred bucks [amazon.com].

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      Linksys is Cisco, perhaps you hadn't heard (wasn't hugely publicised) but Cisco bought them up. Now Cisco is a hardware AND sofware company. Some of their hardware, like their Pix 535s, are little more than a PC with a special flash card to boot off of. The price is not for the hardware, it's for the software and support.

      Soooo, Cisco actually has an intrest in seeing that the stuff they sell as Linksys does not start to compete with their bigger stuff they sell as tehmselves. Often the difference is mainly
    • I'm not sure i really want ATI and nVidia to open up. There's already so many cheats out there for various games; if the video drivers themselves were more open, wouldn't this make it worse?

      What's the benefit? What would you like to be able to do that the current setup doesn't allow?

    • I'd like to add Canon to this list. I'd really really like to be able to increase the functionality of my 300D Rebel.

      Most of the cameras all use the same internal processing system that they've been touting so highly. It seems like in one fell swoop you could cover lots of the different hardware models.

    • Valid point (even with all the comments below). Look at Archos MP3 players... with Rockbox firmware, the hardware suddenly becomes a lot more attractive. Hell, older models with less features are selling for higher prices because they offer better functionality under Rockbox.

      Generally, I don't put a lot of faith in Open Source projects, but Rockbox is a great example of OSS done right.

      --D
  • Linksys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FrostedWheat (172733) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:19AM (#8180184)
    I wonder how many of these routers Linksys have sold simply because it runs Linux and is hackable (in the good sense). They were originally very resistant to the idea of letting people do this. Infact it all started because of a bug in there old firmware!

    Now, if only Linksys could release proper Linux drivers for there other wireless goods. At the moment they are all useless to Linux users.
    • Re:Linksys (Score:2, Informative)

      by angusr (718699)
      I wonder how many of these routers Linksys have sold simply because it runs Linux and is hackable

      If that number is X, it's now X+1 - I just ordered one to replace my Belkin wireless router, which replaced the Netgear router that started giving off "the Brown Smell" before dying completely.

      Why? The Belkin is a nice piece of kit, but it doesn't have the features I need. The Netgear had most of the features, and was actually pretty okay. The Linksys doesn't have the features I need, but looking at the ha

  • Comcast Users: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pirogoeth (662083) <mailbox@nosPam.ikrug.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:19AM (#8180189) Homepage Journal
    Once Comcast lets you in on what your unlimited bandwidth limits really are, you could use this to meter your access to help keep you under the unlimited limit...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:20AM (#8180197)
    The updates bring a whole new level of functionality Linksys couldn't be bothered to incorporate.

    Thanks for the link to the modifications you couldn't be bothered to make for me, Aaron. I guess I'll have to go buy a Linksys, since you couldn't be bothered with buying one for me.

    Nice little anti-corporate jab there. Linksys builds good solid stuff for a reasonable price, and all you can do is complain that it doesn't do everything.
  • Different routers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by t0ny (590331) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:20AM (#8180200)
    Is there any way to improve Netgear routers? Their firmware pretty much sucks, and you can only manage it via thier browser-based tool (no telnet or tftp).

    Or is there just something inherently more hackable about that Linksys router?

    • Not true.

      I have a Netgear RT314, and it can be managed via telnet, no problems.
    • and you can only manage it via thier browser-based tool (no telnet or tftp).

      Totally untrue. I have or had 4 routers (RT311/314 and the MR314 and one other whose model# escapes me now) and they were all accessable via Telnet AND serial (nice since you don't have to reset the unit just in case you totally muck up the ip address). Now if by telnet you mean you can't just be plopped into a shell, then you're sorta right (though you do have access to the command line from the admin menu).
    • Netgear's support web site contains the source for some of their routers (eg the DG834 series [netgear.com]). Cool idea for people to be able to add their own features.
    • by amias (105819) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:47AM (#8180445) Homepage Journal
      I use a Netgear DG834G which appears to run linux 2.4.17 on its MIPS malta processor.

      You can download a bundle of the packages it uses from netgear but they are not configured so its
      hard to patch or hack with it cos you'd have to
      redo their work.

      This seems at odds with the GPL , on the grounds
      that if you use GPL'ed code you must publish not
      just the original source but your modifications as well . or am i wrong ?

      The firmware upgrade patch is easily dissasembled and i've managed to hack the file system (cramfs) out of the firmware . So there is a possiblilty
      that modifying the filesystem might open up safer
      modification by making telnet accessable. but i'm
      too much of a chicken to try it and i expect the
      checksum would fail.
  • by Phil Karn (14620) <karn&ka9q,net> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:23AM (#8180224) Homepage
    It's really great to see people finally enhancing these boxes. These routers have ideal form factors compared to, say, a dedicated router PC running Linux, but their default firmware has always been very poor.

    I didn't see one feature mentioned that I'd really, really like to see added to these boxes: an IPv6 6to4 tunnel. This is an ideal way to penetrate a NAT so you can establish direct TCP connections (and speak UDP) to any servers on your LAN from the outside. IPv6 support has been in all of the major operating systems for some time now, including Windows XP, Linux and Mac OS X, and while not every application is IPv6 ready, the important ones (like SSH) already are.

    If 6to4 tunneling could be added to these consumer routers alongside IPv4 NAT, IPv6 stands to really take off without any help whatsoever from the ISPs. In fact, I almost prefer that my ISP not implement native IPv6. I like the fact that they now carry my encapsulated IPv6 packets without any ingress filtering, port blocking or other end-to-end-wrecking nonsense, and that they are oblivious to (much less control) the IPv6 address space. If or when the ISPs do implement native IPv6, you can bet that they'll exercise the same degree of arbitrary control that they now do over IPv4.

  • by HawkPilot (730860) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:30AM (#8180282)

    This will certainly move a lot a hardware for linksys. Look at the Rockbox mods for Archos for another example. Those who think that you can't make money off the GPL are wrong, at least in the case of hardware makers GPL'ing their firmware. (Although they didn't have a choice since they used linux as the firmware.)

    Their was a story awhile back here on slashdot [slashdot.org] that discussed that Intel didn't want to release open source drivers for Centrino. They should. Open source drivers and firmware can be a boon to hardware makers.
  • by steak (145650) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:36AM (#8180344) Homepage Journal
    I like my ClarkConnect [clarkconnect.org] box better. All it cost me was a pile of old parts that were headed for the dumpster and a ~300 MB download.
  • OPENWRT! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:38AM (#8180361)
    OPENWRT!

    http://openwrt.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
  • Works great (Score:4, Informative)

    by prator (71051) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:39AM (#8180372)
    I replaced my WET11 with a second WRT54G with modified firmware which allows me to set it to client mode like a WET device. I use this to connect to my TiVo and Xbox.

    The newer revs of firmware will have WDS [domino.mms.de] which allows the routers to bridge to each other and client devices to connect to them. However, I think it does half the throughput.

    I just got Vonage, and I plan using Wondershaper once these firmwares mature a little bit more.

    -prator
    • Re:Works great (Score:3, Interesting)

      by milkman_matt (593465)
      I replaced my WET11 with a second WRT54G with modified firmware which allows me to set it to client mode like a WET device. I use this to connect to my TiVo and Xbox.

      No shit? I've got a WRT54G and Cisco told me that you can NOT connect 2 of them wirelessly.. I'm currently running wires to my neighbor's apartments to share the line (and network our xboxes, and systems, etc) Is this the latest LINKSYS firmware that allowed you to set it as a client? If not, what did you use? This could be -extremely- hel
      • by DamnYankee (18417) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:11PM (#8181720) Homepage
        There are two ways to link WRT54G's using the Sveasoft firmware. The simplest is to set one WRT54G to client mode and use the other WRT54G's IP address as the client mode gateway. This turns the WRT54G into a WET54G or WET11 equivalent.

        The second method is to use WDS and link two AP mode WRT54G's point-to-point.

        Please do a search on the Sveasoft forums for more info (http://www.sveasoft.com/forums.html).
  • WRT55AG (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sir Pallas (696783) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:42AM (#8180402) Homepage
    Is anyone working on the WRT55AG, the dual-band (a/b/g) cousin of the 54G? I've got one of those and it actually has a lot of problems. (I haven't gotten the source code on Linksys's site to work properly yet.)
  • New Industry? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WC as Kato (675505) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:43AM (#8180403)
    How come there isn't a whole industry around this? I imagine there is a whole slew of firmware that could be 3rd party modified to incorporate new features. For example, there are many old laptops that could incorporate newer hardware if only the firmware recognized it. I understand that the laptop manufacture wants you to buy a new laptop, but sometimes the only reason why a newer processor can't be used is because the firmware won't recognize it so it won't boot. Argh!!!
  • by itzdandy (183397) <.dandenson. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:45AM (#8180423) Homepage
    what are the chances of someone modding some wireless router to the linux mesh router project. this would make an inexpensive AP for all your wireless mesh routing needs.
    • I think somebody needs to organize a development community around this. Creating a good stable version of Linux that can be easily installed onto the router. Of course this would require some sort of installer program, that could fetch updates & upgrade the firmware more easily too.

      Then it would be much easier to create all these advanced features, instead of having everyone adding their own single extra features, and never getting the exposure neccesary to stabilize the feature.
      • by MbM (7065) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:14PM (#8181195) Homepage
        I think somebody needs to organize a development community around this. Creating a good stable version of Linux that can be easily installed onto the router. Of course this would require some sort of installer program, that could fetch updates & upgrade the firmware more easily too.
        We're trying to address some of these issues with openwrt [sf.net]. Openwrt provides a minimal firmware image with support for add-on packages via a writable filesystem; essentially a linux distro. The idea is two fold, it allows developers to focus on specific pieces rather than an entire firmware and end users to free up precious resources and customize the firmware by adding or removing features.

        Mesh routing is on the list of things to do with some progress being made in that direction already.
    • Sveasoft is working on a mesh firmware for the Linksys WRT54G. We hope to have a preliminary release sometime in late March.
  • by mariox19 (632969) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:27PM (#8180784)

    All kidding aside, here's the business model for 2004:

    1. Develop a Linux-based product that, while operable, lacks everything but bare bones functionality
    2. Wait for the hacker community to rush to outdo one another adding functionality -- and hence, value -- to your product
    3. Profit!!!
  • Open wireless nets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elgaard (81259) <elgaard@a[ ].dk ['gol' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:55PM (#8181006) Homepage
    I would like to see a firmware that would

    1. Limit bandwidth from unauthorized users to a fraction of the connection the owner is paying for (eg xDSL)

    2. Route all traffic from unauthorized users through the gateway (eg xDSL router)

    3. Block unauthorized access to port 25 to avoid spam from people on the street.

    That way we could all share our internet connections and read our email when travelling without the hassle of commercial hotspots.
    Guest visiting us could use our networks without exchange of keys and passwords.

  • Figured i'd better point this out, but there are already some good solutions to fixing this problem with FBSD. Check out this software router project called M0n0wall. http://m0n0.ch/wall/index.php I currently use it on a old p1, 200mhz, 40Mb of ram to control up and downstream bandwidth, so my computers dont interfere with my Vonage phone service. Works like a champ! Must have taken a total of 30 minutes to setup.
  • Mobile computing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thalakan (14668) <jspence@lightcon ... .com minus berry> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:16PM (#8181223) Homepage
    I had a rather power hungry PC based wireless/3G/APRS/AX.25 router in my car for a while which I used to serve Internet at conventions and such. I recently replaced it with the WRT54G and the sveasoft firmware, which has several benefits:

    - The WRT54G only uses a few watts, whereas the PC based router spiked at 300W during startup and consumed north of 60W at idle and south of 100W during load. I also lost between 10-30% of the power due to conversion losses from the DC-AC-DC conversion through the auto inverter, since I couldn't find a good ATX power supply that ran on DC that I could couple to the car's batteries...

    - The WRT54G has dual antenna jacks that I don't need to buy delicate adapters or pigtails for. I couple them directly to the jacks on twin high gain 2.4GHz dipole magmounts on the roof of the car, which gives me way better reception than I was getting from the orinoco, a pigtail, and a single one of the same antennas.

    - Speaking of reception, kismet has been ported to the WRT54G! I don't need to screw around with the orinoco patches or hack my prism2 cards to add an antenna jack; it just works. I currently feed wifi data from the WRT54G to another computer which actually merges the GPS data with the wifi data from the WRT54G, because the WRT54G only has 4MB flash and 32K NVRAM for persistent storage, and you have to solder a USB serial chipset to the WRT54G PCB to add a serial port to it (for reading GPS's NMEA output); it doesn't come with one.

    - Now that sveasoft added dropbear to their latest firmware, you can ssh into the device and run wakeonlan to power up other devices on your network remotely. This is seriously cool shit; I park my car, it associates with my home AP in client mode and shows up on my home network. I can then ssh into the WRT54G to power up the other computers in the car using wakeonlan to transfer files to them (transfer rate is somewhere around 1 megabyte per second in my environment), start the car, use the TNC in the car's ham radio, etc. I had to turn off the PC based router I was using before because it would drain the deep cycle marine batteries I'm using to power the car computers in an hour or two at load, but now I can leave the WRT54G on for a few days before the batteries even get low.

    - If I forget where I parked my car, the antennas I'm using for the WRT54G are +6dBi, so I can pull out something with 802.11{b,g} and warwalk the parking lot looking for a strong signal from the WRT54G :)

    - It's only $80 brand new around here in the bay area, which is damn cheap for a low power 200MHz Linux box with 16MB of memory, FIVE ethernet jacks, your choice of DC or AC power, pretty lights, official vendor provided source code for the firmware, an active community hacking on it, and a 802.11g capable wifi chipset with diversity antennas in form factor half the size of the smallest mini-ITX machine you can possibly get. And they're on the used market for prices approaching numbers that make me want to say it's close to disposable pricing. Heh, disposable routers :)

  • by jjwahl (81757) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:17PM (#8181229) Homepage
    I've got a WRT54G that I tried to install for a client to connect with her corporate PPTP VPN. It didn't work with PPTP VPN - apparently it was dropping GRE packets.

    ...I then tried various versions of the Linksys firmware to no avail. Eventually I stumbled across http://h.vu.wifi-box.net [wifi-box.net] and found a hacked firmware upgrade that fixed the problem but I have serious reservations about using this for my client!

    I have no access to the source code so how do I know whether or not this hacked upgrade monitors outgoing connections and passes interesting bits of information on to the author?

    Certainly I could sniff the wire and find out for sure but I don't have time for this!!! There's tremendous potential for a malicious third party to monitor traffic using this. It just makes me leery when there's no source code to preview. Even if there was, I don't have the time to review it!

    Any similar thoughts/concerns?
  • slash 22 (Score:4, Funny)

    by MisanthropeLifeform (716299) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:26PM (#8181315)
    If it wasn't on slashdot, I wouldn't know about it. Because it is on slashdot, downloading it will be hell.
  • by npendleton (255215) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:12PM (#8181727)
    Power over Ethernet hacks (PoE) [nycwireless.net] are very cool.
    Ralph Fowler [wwwralphfowler.com] PoE hacked Dlink DWL-900AP+ [ralphfowler.com]. Tons of photos and some brave soldering.

    MacOS refugee, paper MCSE, Linux Wanna-be
  • WRT54G hacking group (Score:3, Informative)

    by EverLurking (595528) <slash.davechen@org> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:08PM (#8185032) Homepage
    Also a wealth of information is this WRT54G Hacking on Yahoo Groups [yahoo.com] where most of the ongoing discussions on hacking/customizing the WRT54G is going on.

    DaveC

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