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Netgear Launches Open Source-Friendly Wireless Router 182

Posted by timothy
from the market-linksys-chose-to-mostly-ignore dept.
An anonymous reader submits news of Netgear's release of the "open source Wireless-G Router (model WGR614L), enabling Linux developers and enthusiasts to create firmware for specialized applications, and supported by a dedicated open source community. The router supports the most popular open source firmware; Tomato and DD-WRT are available on WGR614L, making it easier for users to develop a wide variety of applications. The router is targeted at people who want custom firmware on their router without worrying about issues, and enjoy the benefits of having an open source wireless router."
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Netgear Launches Open Source-Friendly Wireless Router

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  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:13PM (#23986127)

    Here in 2008, I'm only interested in Free Software-friendly 802.11 N routers. Anybody know of any?

    • by schnikies79 (788746) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:17PM (#23986163)

      I would rather wait till they finalize the spec.

      • Holy shit, you mean they haven't even finished the damn thing yet?! I mean, draft-N stuff has been out for years, so I just assumed...

        WTF is taking them so long?!

        • Hell if I know. I wish they would get with it!

        • by zolf13 (941799) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:27PM (#23986229)
          The problem is how to use the same "free" radio frequency (2.4 GHz) both for "b/g" and "n" without interferencing each other.
          • by LordEq (63011) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:34PM (#23986283)

            The problem is how to use the same "free" radio frequency (2.4 GHz) both for "b/g" and "n" without interferencing

            * SLAP *

            Don't do that.

            • What do you propose as the alternative? The amount of spectrum that you can use without having to get a license for your installation is really small.

              • by devjj (956776) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:11PM (#23986501)

                802.11n operates on 5Ghz as well.

                It's time to start ditching backward compatibility. Every refresh of the 802.11 spec does not have to have backward compatibility. Backward compatibility here just serves to increase the distance between theoretical maximums and actual observed speeds.

                I run a dual-router setup on my home network. I've got a Linksys WRT54Gv4 running Tomato alongside an Apple Airport Extreme. The WRT fills the job of router as well as 802.11g (802.11b is turned off) access point, while the AEBN is configured to work as an 802.11n wireless bridge on the 5Ghz band. Actual throughput is far faster on this setup than on a single device serving everything.

                I know there are practical reasons for backward compatibility, but we need to get off our love affair with it. Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break. There's no reason why we can't have an abundance of cheap 802.11b/g devices and a separate class of devices for 802.11n. There's no reason one can't run both if one needs both. The convenience offered by a single package just makes it worse for everyone in the long run.

                • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:24PM (#23986567)

                  Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break.

                  You're kind of missing the point. The claim was that the need for backwards compatibility was part of what was making it so difficult to finalize the standard. If you keep it in enterprise hardware then the problem is still there! You could have two standards, I suppose, one "consumer" standard that makes a clean break and one "enterprise" standard that's backwards compatible, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a standard in the first place.

                  Personally, my house has a lot of g-only devices, and I'm glad that I can serve everything off a single router.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by cayenne8 (626475)
                  "I know there are practical reasons for backward compatibility, but we need to get off our love affair with it. Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break. There's no reason why we can't have an abundance of cheap 802.11b/g devices and a separate class of devices for 802.11n. There's no reason one can't run both if one needs both. The convenience offered by a single package just makes it worse for everyone in the long run."

                  Honest question here....is there any problem with linux

                • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:33AM (#23988289)

                  802.11n operates on 5Ghz as well.

                  It's time to start ditching backward compatibility. Every refresh of the 802.11 spec does not have to have backward compatibility.

                  I provide the WiFi in hotels. I generally put between 10 and 15 APs in, and guess what I will use if that is the case? The old standard most guests have. Hell, some hotels still have 802.11b in them. Slightly better range than G, and still faster than the pipe they have. So if you loose backwards compatibility, I hope you don't want to use any hotspots.

                • by yabos (719499)
                  I have the same setup. AEBS does the N network and I can consistently get 14MBytes/s syncing to my AppleTV over it on 5 GHz which is great for wireless. I turned on wide channels which got me that huge speed boost from about 5MB/s.
              • Sir Bedevere: There are ways of making this work:
                On days whose name match "\w*a\w", we use the old 11b/g standard.
                However, on days whose name match "\w*y", we use 11n.
                Govvy: Splendid. You make this all sound so simple. How many Full Time Equivalents will this take to implement?
                Sir Bedevere:Three-score and a fortnight, no more.
                Govvy: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
                • Baldric: Sir Bedevere, there is a flaw in the regular expression used to match 11b/g days. "Saturday" will match early, just "A Minute Past" [blogspot.com] the end of Friday, when we decide which standard is more standard for the day.
                  Sir Bedevere: Can we use XML?
                  Baldric: I have a cunning plan. We will use UTF-8, and have our system include SÃturday, instead of Saturday, so that there won't be any ASCII 97 characters except in the penultimate position.
                  Sir Bedevere: Recall, Baldric, that I hired you away from Edmu
            • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:04PM (#23986445)

              Let him say what he wants.

              Stop interferencing.

          • by yabos (719499)
            That's why you can use the 5.8GHz spectrum for 802.11N. Well, until that gets crowded as well, but at least for now it's pretty free from as many access points. It also has the advantage that your microwave won't interfere with your network.
        • by amorsen (7485)

          All the vendors of draft-N equipment promise that their equipment can be upgraded to the standard when the standard is ready. Now, that happens to be true if that particular vendors implementation ends up being close to the standard. However, the implementations are different enough that it's unlikely that they can find a way for ALL vendors to keep their promise.

          As long as no standard emerges, noone has to make product recalls.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I bet they include 801.11n support in the HURD.

    • All of Linksys's draft n routers can get DD-WRT on them with just a simple firmware flashing. Some of them require you to flash the micro version of the firmware the first time to circumvent the very pathetically flawed signature check, but it's far from as complicated as the WRT54G v5/v6 method is.
    • Here in 2008, I'm only interested in Free Software-friendly 802.11 N routers. Anybody know of any?

      anyone know how to fix it?

  • Problems... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:14PM (#23986139)
    It always seems that whenever a company releases something open-source they have to make at least one component proprietary. As this allows Open-WRT to be installed on it perhaps it is really open, but just about every device that uses something open-source has something that makes it hard to install something new on it or they don't use a 100% open source OS (examples, N800, EEE PC, TiVo, etc)
    • by wellingj (1030460)
      I think Gumstix [gumstix.com] are so popular precisely because they are completely open.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KGIII (973947)
        (Not intentionally trolling...) But, "so popular" with whom, for what? When I saw this thread I opened it thinking (I was being optimistic) that I'd find people in here debating all the great things that they'd do with it. I scrolled through and, well, I came across your post (and clicked even the link in your signature) because you said something was "so popular" and it was something I'd never heard of before. It turns out that I had seen them via another link or an industry magazine, or at least I think s
        • by mrmeval (662166)

          I'd buy a Make controller or the new megarduino or one of several CPLD and FPGA play toys available and have money left over for so Icanhascheeseburger.

          srsly expensive stuff those gumshoe boys are hawking.

    • Well, in some cases its to protect DRM systems, like TiVo.

      Probably similar problems with phones, they have to lock phones to a provider somehow with the ones that are subsidized.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:38AM (#23988307)

      It always seems that whenever a company releases something open-source they have to make at least one component proprietary. As this allows Open-WRT to be installed on it perhaps it is really open, but just about every device that uses something open-source has something that makes it hard to install something new on it or they don't use a 100% open source OS (examples, N800, EEE PC, TiVo, etc)

      EEE PC? You mean this EEE PC running Ubuntu right here? It can't do that? Hmmm... Well I better stop altering reality then...

  • Wonderful! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Nethead (1563)

    Now we can use vastly superior ROT13 encryption instead of that lame WEP stuff.

  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:18PM (#23986165) Homepage

    So they finally decided to stop handing the Linux tweakable router market to Linksys/Cisco, huh? Let's see, how long did that take?

    According to Wikipedia, Linksys cut hardware back on their routers and released the hackable WRT54GL in 2005. So they've done nothing but ignore this market for nearly 4 years.

    Took someone else long enough.

    • by gelfling (6534) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:31PM (#23986257) Homepage Journal

      Netgear doesn't make money on firmware. They make money selling routers. So if this sells more routers, then fine. But don't look to them to start cannibalizing their sales of Super-G, MiMo or N routers to sell more older on the shelf gear. 614 routers are themselves, fairly old probably as old internally as Linksys open routers. All they did was tweak the gear slightly in light of cheaper hardware now vs 3 years ago.

      BTW, I LOVED my 624v3 Super-G Netgear router, for the 12 months it lasted. Then last month the wireless piece of it conked out. I replaced it with an 824v2 with all internal diversity antennas so the fact that Netgear cheaped out and never built replaceable antenna couplings is moot.

    • by Fallen Kell (165468) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:56PM (#23987115)
      Dude, Linksys routers were SHIPPED with linux originally back in 2002. Yes, the "L" version came out in 2005, the only reason there is an "L" version is because after v3 of the WRT54G, Linksys removed 1/2 the memory and switched to a proprietary firemware and not open source because they were threatened with lawsuits due to the original versions and not fully complying at first with release of the source code. They felt they had given up too many secrets of how their hardware worked when they had to release the source code in compliance with the GPL, and also wanted to cut production costs. The "L" version was really just a WRT54G version 3 hardware, which they then priced a lot higher...
      • The "L" version was really just a WRT54G version 3 hardware, which they then priced a lot higher...

        And weren't they surprised when it still sold well. Hint... There is a market for open stuff. Some of those folks will even pay more for it!

    • I love that router...and have three running Tomato at home - two configured as bridges. Regardless of what anyone says about Linksys, I'll give them props for coming out with the GL and keeping it out there just for the geeks. They are ROCK solid with Tomato.

      I would also love to see the N spec go final...and then see a Tomato-supported N router hit the market. G is getting a little long in the tooth to stream video in my place.

  • by DaMoisture (862785) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:32PM (#23986265)
    The KWGR614 [netgear.com] was the single worst router I have ever used. VPN, chat, P2P, and any other application that required other than port 80 never worked, it liked to drop connections for no reason, and has received not a single firmware update to date. At least Newegg [newegg.com] was nice enough to give me my money back so I could buy a Linksys. The only success it achieved was setting the bar extremely low for this new open source offering.
    • by bobbozzo (622815) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:49PM (#23986369)

      My dad has a Netgear that looks like that; it constantly overheats and completely drops wifi connections (ethernet works fine).

      Ventilating it and adding some aluminum fins onto the main chip helped only somewhat.

      I wonder, is this new one any better?

      • by jchawk (127686) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:06PM (#23986471) Homepage Journal

        I had trouble with my Netgear wireless router... It would work fine for a few days then would stop accepting new connections.

        I upgraded to the latest firmware and haven't had any trouble since...

        If you haven't already tried, it's probably worth a shot!

        • As with motherboards, this is what you get in the price-is-the-only-factor world of consumer-level computer or network equipment. I install shitloads of these things and every brand is just as inconsistent. In the last year, I have had bad/malfunctioning units from the following:
          * Netgear
          * D-Link
          * Linksys (never again)
          * ZyXEL (I used to love them more than life itself)
          * Hawking
          * Belkin

          The fact is that they're all shit and they all have an unacceptable level of bad units.
    • by Fred_A (10934)

      The KWGR614 [netgear.com] was the single worst router I have ever used.

      It's a shame with the catchy name and all.

      Those things have even worse naming schemes than CPUs.

  • Buffalo anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#23986347)
    Hasn't Buffalo been shipping routers running DD-WRT for the longest time? Shouldn't we be supporting the people who were doing it the longest?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lscotte (450259)

      Uh, no... Buffalo stopped sales of all their wifi products as of November 2007 due to an injunction against them from Australia. Go Google for it, but you won't be buying a Buffalo wifi router anytime in the near future...

    • I believe that CSIRO got an injunction to prevent patent infringement by the Buffalo routers so you can't buy these routers in the US anymore.

    • Yes, and as a side benefit, they also had the strongest signal of any router I've tested. We sat it alongside a cisco with a high gain antenna, and the output from the buffalo was still stronger.

      Unfortunately, as stated below, you cannot buy them new in the US retail. You can still find them on ebay though.
  • Drop out? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Walzmyn (913748) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:54PM (#23986401)
    OK, I'm not a networking guy. (My nerd credientials fall in biology) but does this mean that my linux box would work better with this router?

    Currently the wife's XP laptop will never drop off the wireless. If my Linux laptop is connect they will both drop about once a day. If I turn on my linux desktop which is wired in, the wireless laptops will drop out about once an hour.

    • by WK2 (1072560)

      An open source router appeals to people because it is more customizable. They can add QOS, servers, etc. Any router should work fine with Linux, Windows, Mac, BSD, or any other OS that uses BSD-style networking (any modern OS).

      Your problem comes from a crappy router. Perhaps a Netgear? They make a lot of crappy routers. About half of router crappiness is from software, and half is from hardware. If a crappy router is open source, you can fix the software part. But you still can't fix the hardware part.

      I wou

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You'll need an additional piece of hardware [amazon.com] to iron things out.

      N.B.: I'm not a networking guy either. (My nerd credentials fall in fire-fighting.) I hope that hardware helps though. It invariably does for me. ;-)
  • by viking80 (697716) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:57PM (#23986419) Journal

    Tomato is not really open source. It is open source except for the UI.
    DD-WRT is just a branch of OpenWRT that costs money. It is free for home use however.

    Use OpenWRt; It is open and free. If you want simplicity, use X-wrt, which is basically OpenWRT with a web based UI. It does not use the latest version of OpenWRT, but is very stable. It includes a smörgåsbord of modules to add with a simple mouse click.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by feld (980784)

      This is true, but there are modded Tomato firmwares floating about without Jon complaining. I've dontated to his project; I love Tomato. He deserves the right to keep control over the web ui, but I do agree that it detracts from making the firmware as free as it could be.

    • by msauve (701917) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:20PM (#23986539)
      only some parts - it still uses the precompiled, no-source-code Broadcom binary.

      It's also not new, so it's not clear why this is on /. now. It's marketing more than anything.
    • by mpoulton (689851) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:44PM (#23986677)
      MOD PARENT UP. I wish I had points. I used to be a rabid fan of DD-WRT, and I still believe it is the best firmware out there for the WRT series routers. However, the project leader (Brainslayer) has recently started to close source certain parts of the project, and it seems he is working to make it unusable in open-source form (i.e. requires proprietary code to function at all). Basically, he's pulling a Sveasoft move here and screwing a great number of the people who donated time and money to make the system work in the first place.
  • Invalidate warranty? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm... " !!!! Opening The Router Housing or Putting In Any Customer
    Software on The Router Will Void The Warranty On Your
    Router!!!!"

    WGR614L Open Source Guide V2 [myopenrouter.com]

    What does it mean by open source anyway? Could I install OpenBSD on this thing? I thought broadcom was one of those difficult manufacturers whose stuff had to be reverse engineered because there are no specs? They came around?

    • Sadly necessary... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Markos (71140)

      Well, considering it's possible, but not likely, to brick a router when flashing I'd say they really can't support it officially via warranty.

      As far as I know, Linksys at some point back was forced to comply with the GPL and release their Linux firmware. Inside the firmware is a binary kernel driver, like Nvidia, that enables support with the wireless aspect of the chipset. No source code is available for this.

      All of the open source firmwares for these routers are based on the orignal Linksys source AFAIK.

  • by Hanzie (16075) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:22PM (#23986549)
    Apparently a number of the new WGR614L router boxes got WGR614v9 routers instead.

    This page:

    WGR614L really a WG614v9? [myopenrouter.com]

    talks about it.

    May 16, 2008 3:36 PM Sean, I am the Product Line Manager for Wireless Products at NETGEAR and I apologize. Please do send me your contact information and I will send you a WGR614L version out immediately. There had been an issue with one of our distributors and a few V9 versions was shipped out by mistake. We have recalled, but I guess you were one of the unfortunate ones to get a V9. Again, I apologize. My email address is **DELETED** Please do send me your address. Regards -Som Pal Choudhury Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless NETGEAR Inc.

    I removed his contact numbers and email address. They're on the page I linked to, and he really doesn't need a slashdot post of his vitals, he's got enough problems right now.

    Nice to see Netgear's on the ball.

    Apparently Netgear's guy responsible is personally taking care of the problem.

    hanzie

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:59PM (#23986765)

      My email address is som.choudhury@netgear.com. Please do send me your address.

      Regards

      -Som Pal Choudhury
      Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless
      NETGEAR Inc.
      Off: 408-367-7884
      Cell: 408-910-2936

      • by Hanzie (16075) * on Sunday June 29, 2008 @12:23AM (#23987505)
        Can a moderator or two give a +1 informative to the parent of this post, please?

        The below contact info was posted by an AC whom I believe to be the Netgear gentleman in question.

        Here it is again (because lots of folks will never see an AC post)

        My email address is som.choudhury@netgear.com. Please do send me your address. Regards -Som Pal Choudhury Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless NETGEAR Inc. Off: 408-367-7884 Cell: 408-910-2936

        Mr. Choudhury, I recommend registering for an account here and posting. If you don't, someone else will.

        Thank you very much for proactively working to fix the problem. It gives me confidence that your company's equipment might be worth trying.

        hanzie.

  • by LarsG (31008) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:33PM (#23986607) Journal

    The specs on this thing is suspiciously similar to the good old WRT54GL. Unless the price is lower, I really don't see what this thing brings to the table.

    If it had just included a couple USB ports and upped the ram/flash a little bit, it would have improved the hackability considerably. Look at what people have been able to do with the NSLU2 [nslu2-linux.org]. With these fairly minor changes the WGR614L could supersede both the 54GL and NSLU2.

    • Perhaps because they are all based upon the same reference platform. What? You thought linksys actually had electrical engineers? Silly person.
  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Velorium (1068080)
    About fucking time. Now only if they get some USB dongles out too that have drivers Linux compatible that don't use two to three different chipsets under the same product name. My WG111v2 works great on XP but is terribly hard to get a consistent connection on linux with no open-source drivers (Ubuntu works out of the box but will drop if too many packets come through at a time or something. Seems whenever I do anything data intensive it gets angry with me.)
  • About time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hyc (241590) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:40PM (#23987029) Homepage Journal

    I think they're just acknowledging that they can't write firmware to save their lives. I had a WG602 that would always lock up after a few days of use; the lockups would happen sooner after big ftp/scp sessions. Basically the damn thing had a memory leak. Updating to the latest firmware didn't help; I finally replaced it with a Linksys.

    (Oh yeah, and they also promised upgradability to 802.1x WPA when I bought it, and never released a firmware update with WPA support.) AFA I'm concerned, this is the smartest decision they could possibly make. Now they don't have to bother with fake promises of future firmware upgrades, they can just leave it to their customers to upgrade at will. And people buying these routers won't have to put up with buggy firmware without any recourse.

    Of course I still think it's too late; I've completely sworn off ever buying Netgear again and have stuck to Linksys...

    • by delt0r (999393)
      Well I have just been configuring my WGR614v6. If you set your network up the way they planed, it works fine. But if you do something different then you are out of luck. For example you can't change/turn of NAT or the firewall and there is no telnet interface, so you have to hack it work with a already present home network. All the hacks out there didn't work for me and so I have a 50 euro piece of junk. I can't see this being enough really.

      I will never get netgear again.
  • Nice! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:41PM (#23987031) Journal
    Late to the game, but quite welcome! Also see Ubiquity [ubnt.com].


    Cheers, Ed

  • wanna see something funny? try their hardware specs [myopenrouter.com] page. yeaaah we can definitely turn that into a great open source router.

  • I'd really like to have a turnkey, commercially built router with the security of OpenBSD, NetBSD, or FreeBSD. Given the business-unfriendliness of the latest version of the GPL, why aren't companies like Netgear moving to BSD? Or is it just a matter of time before they do?
  • by Eil (82413)

    This is okay, I guess, except that WRT54GL has been available for a long time and has roughly the same specs.

    A few years ago, I thought that open-source Linux-based routers would have been a boon for router manufacturers and end-users alike, but that dream has yet to be realized. Off-the-shelf wifi routers still have little more than basic NAT functionality. The third-party firmware options offer far more features, of course, but every one of the projects seem to either lack focus or developers and conseque

  • I have had so many bad experiences with Netgear that this won't change my mind of avoiding their products. The replies I got about missing Linux support for cards and other products were arrogant and not very interested at all.
    Thanks, but no thanks.

  • Source code for other of Netgear's routers are also available:

    http://kbserver.netgear.com/kb_web_files/n101238.asp [netgear.com]

    I myself am tempted to download the source for the WPN824EXT, because my parents bought the WPN824EXT and had issues installing it. They were wanting to use it as a range extender. Trying to work it for them, I found this was not something was easy to configure, when compared to other routers. One thing I found is that as sold this does not really extend the range, unless one end is cabled to th

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