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Networking Hardware

WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-good-to-be-true dept.
New submitter JImbob0i0 writes: "Back in January, Linksys/Belkin made a big deal about their new router, the WRT1900AC, which they claimed was a successor to the venerable WRT54G, and how they were working with OpenWRT. They released it this week, but their promises have fallen far short. You need to apply patches (which don't apply cleanly) and compile yourself in order to get it to work... so long as you don't need wireless support. There has not been much response from Linksys on the mailing list to criticism of the improperly formatted patch dump and poor reviews as a result."
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WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises

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  • Hey Soulskill! (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801)

    Hey Soulskill -- JImbob0i0 may be a new submitter, but you're not a new editor. How about editing the content of the submission so that it actually makes sense?

    What exactly is it they pay you to do? I'm sure I could write a shell script that would randomly select a few stories every day to copy to the front page.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:30AM (#46820713) Homepage Journal

    they clearly missed the ball on there about what made the previous model useful.

    I mean, for 400 bucks you could pick up two minnowboards.
    or like, 7 raspberry pi's with wifi.
    or like, 10 normal home wifi routers.

    400 bucks why bother with their gpl dancing around. you can buy a frigging dualcore laptop for that money and enjoy out of the box webcam hosting, ethernet + wifi routing with a built in high resolution display and built in ups!

    • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:32AM (#46820897)
      The router has just been released and none of Amazon's usual resellers (including themself) have it in stock yet, so only a handful of grubbier resellers are listing it. The list price is $249 [linksys.com], and undoubtedly it will be even cheaper than that once it's in good supply.
      • by Lennie (16154)

        The TP-Link I got was less than 50 euros.

        • by raburton (1281780)

          Netgear wndr3700 goes for about the same. Specs are a bit lower than this new linksys (it's a couple of years old now) but plenty for most applications and with excellent openwrt support (just make sure you buy the right hardware revision).

          • by Anonymous Coward

            That's all fine and dandy until your WNDR3700 starts rebooting on you every 15-30 minutes, like mine did. It worked great, right up until it went out of warranty. I have tried upgrading/downgrading stock FW as well as DD-WRT (the latter of which will break your 5GHz WiFi band). Unfortunately, I have V3 hardware (Broadcom chip, as opposed to Atheros).

            So yes, I agree to make sure you buy the right hardware revision. However, my experience with all Netgear routers I've tried (4 different ones, over the year

        • by ArhcAngel (247594)
          That was for an AC band WiFi? The AC1750 is listed at Newegg [newegg.com] for $95 right now
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @03:45AM (#46820941) Homepage

      Just get a Buffalo. Good OpenWRT/DD-WRT support (some come pre-installed with DD-WRT), good price, good hardware. Linksys have been shit since the late 90s when I first encountered them, and the WRT54G was never that great to begin with (how many hardware revisions were there?)

      • by jittles (1613415) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @09:10AM (#46822277)

        Just get a Buffalo. Good OpenWRT/DD-WRT support (some come pre-installed with DD-WRT), good price, good hardware. Linksys have been shit since the late 90s when I first encountered them, and the WRT54G was never that great to begin with (how many hardware revisions were there?)

        The current Buffalo routers have TERRIBLE WiFi. I mean absolute garbage. I bought a Buffalo router and am using it as my firewall and LAN router. I bought an Airport Extreme to actually provide WiFi service to my home. With the Buffalo I had to reboot the device every 4-6 hours minimum just to use the WiFi. I could not copy a 5GB file over WiFi as that was guaranteed to screw the router up and WiFi would stop working all together. The Airport is expensive as hell but I haven't had to touch the thing in 3 years. I would use that as my only device if only it let me configure things like dynamic DNS support, etc.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Strange, I have a Buffalo WZR-D1800H (a current model) and the wifi is excellent. Far better than my old Asus N16 and the crap that my ISP gave me (Virgin Superhub 2). 5GHz in particular is damn fast, which is the main reason I got it was 2.4GHz has become unusable around here.

          Maybe you had a duff one? The only time I used an Airport Extreme was when I was at a friends house and it was crap, but that could have been for any number of reasons unrelated to the Airport itself.

          • by jittles (1613415)

            Strange, I have a Buffalo WZR-D1800H (a current model) and the wifi is excellent. Far better than my old Asus N16 and the crap that my ISP gave me (Virgin Superhub 2). 5GHz in particular is damn fast, which is the main reason I got it was 2.4GHz has become unusable around here.

            Maybe you had a duff one? The only time I used an Airport Extreme was when I was at a friends house and it was crap, but that could have been for any number of reasons unrelated to the Airport itself.

            Could be the model? I have three WZR-HP-G300NH2's and all I use them for is firewall/router. They're relatively inexpensive (I believe I paid $70 a piece for them), but they were unreliable. The WiFi would stop working (though the SSID would still broadcast, no traffic would go anywhere). The older they got, the worse the problem seemed to be. I still use them to handle firewall, but that's it.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              I have a couple of that era but not that specific model, and some older 802.11g models as well. No issues with any of them. I really think you were just unlucky as most people seem to think they are good. They have a good reputation in Japan where they are pretty much the only brand that can reliably route close to people's theoretical broadband speeds (back in the day it was 100/100Mbps, but these days it's 1000/1000 and Buffalo benchmark around 950-970Mbps in their high end models.)

    • Which is an interesting discussion in itself, Ubiquity sme stuff is also a lot cheaper

      • That's what I did, Ubiquiti wirelesss N AP and edgelite router. Total cost 170 bucks, rock solid.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)

      Fuck Linksys, plenty of open source supported devices with newer features, asus comes to mind, i'm sure there are others.

  • by Cassini2 (956052) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:33AM (#46820721)

    I agree with Andrew Johnson [openwrt.org]. Almost everyone will want a wireless router. A Linux, open-source, router was the segment that the WRT54GL filled.

    It's a bit of a shame. I need a bunch of new routers with wireless support and ideally cellular support too.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      just buy a switch and a laptop.

      it's cheaper than this crap.

      • Also: much more capable.
        It's amazing how things like NAS-devices and routers have become so much more expensive that just buying similar parts and putting them together gives you 100 times the specs and a million times the flexibility for the same price.

        The only thing these devices have going for them is low power usage vs capabilities and even on that front they are bested by pretty much any budget mobile phone there is.

        It's ridiculous.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        or a Mikrotik

    • by RR (64484) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @05:09AM (#46821219)

      What you need to do is to look at the available routers, and find which ones have supported chipsets and adequate flash storage and stuff.

      In the 802.11n dual-band generation, the best seemed to be the Atheros AR7161 routers, such as the Netgear WNDR3800. [newegg.com] I bought that specifically because it has robust open-source drivers for both radios, so it works smoothly with OpenWRT. It's not the fanciest, but I used 802.11g for years without problem, so it can't be that bad.

      For the 802.11ac generation, I'd guess that devices with version 2 of the Qualcomm Atheros QCA-9880 might work best, such as version 2.0 of the TP-Link Archer C7, [openwrt.org] but I haven't been following it since I don't need an upgrade, yet.

      • The last time I bought a dedicated device like this, I got a PC Engines [pcengines.ch] WRAP, which is similar to the boards that Soekris [soekris.com] sells. For about £100, I got a 266MHz AMD Geode (x86) CPU, a board that could boot from a CF card, and had 3 wired sockets and 2 miniPCI slots (with an 802.11g card in one), a metal case and a couple of antennae. That was quite a few (actually, almost ten) years ago.

        The first search result has a similar kit [linitx.com] for £139, which is a bit more, but if you shop around you can pr

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I provided the board support patch for Archer C7v2 in OpenWRT. There have now been nightly builds for it for several days, and the units are pretty much working at 100%.

        I had some difficulty in actually *acquiring* a C7v2, but TP-Link is truly a pleasure to deal with. Newegg, on the other hand... I bought a C7v2 from them, they sent me a C7v1. I RMA'd it and they sent me ANOTHER C7v1, and had the audacity to claim that the hardware was identical and I should just install the "v2 update" from tplink's site.

    • by MrNemesis (587188) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @07:16AM (#46821575) Homepage Journal

      From a few posts along in the thread https://lists.openwrt.org/pipe... [openwrt.org]:

      Quick update on this subject: Linksys has now posted a GPL source for
      the WRT1900AC, and it contains the wifi driver sources.
      It appears to me, that this driver was properly licensed under GPL, with
      proper license headers in all source files.

      This means that work on supporting this device can theoretically
      continue, although I expect it to take quite a bit of time. As I
      anticipated, the code quality of the driver source code is abysmal.
      This looks like rewrite (not cleanup) material, ugly enough to cause eye
      cancer or frighten small children ;)

      There are also still some pieces missing: Since this driver does not use
      standard Linux Wireless APIs, it can only properly function with custom
      hostapd/wpa_supplicant hacks. I don't see those in the release.

      - Felix

      Update 2: Those can be found in the OpenWrt SDK for this device on
      GitHub. Same comments regarding code quality apply here.

      - Felix

      The link to the firmware appears to be here http://support.linksys.com/en-... [linksys.com], it's one of those annoying javascript-non-hyperlinks.

      Can anyone more au fait with OpenWRT verify that this is correct?

    • by antdude (79039)

      My old WRT54GL still works well. I don't need the newer fancy models until mine dies. :)

  • Firmware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z34107 (925136) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @02:37AM (#46820733)

    So, Linksys' OpenWRT router ships without OpenWRT firmware, apparently because there is no such firmware. You could compile such a firmware yourself, if not for Linksys withholding the wireless drivers.

    I can't even begin to imagine a chain of events that resulted in shipping an OpenWRT router without any OpenWRT support.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      I can't even begin to imagine a chain of events that resulted in shipping an OpenWRT router without any OpenWRT support.

      It starts with "B" and rhymes with Whelkin.

      • by mirix (1649853)

        pre belkin linksys was kinda shit for this too. If you wanted wifi to work on a WRT54, you had to run 2.4 past it's due date, as there was no 2.6 driver, and the 2.4 one was a blob. Someone must have eventually reverse engineered the broadcom junk, as there was 2.6 support, much later. Well... that bit falls under the broadcom is evil category, I guess.

        Though I suppose it wasn't marketed as an 'OpenWRT router', was it...

        A lot of the router outfits (or just embedded things in general) seem pretty poor in com

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Chain of events:

      1. Product manager gives a feature list and a hard delivery date based on arbitrary whims of an executive
      2. Development and QA comes back with a date that requires a schedule which is 3x longer
      3. Product management comes back with the same date and decides to handle the issue by bringing in more contractors insisting that throwing more people at the problem will achieve the goals and the megalomaniac rockstar contractor said "Oh I can get this done in half the time."
      4. Reality proves the pro

      • Linksys has working wireless drivers; the product ships with them. The only problem is the lawyers who won't open source those drivers.

        It would take them a few seconds to just post the sources that the router ships with to their web site; there is no *technical* reason for the delay, they are just refusing to do so, even after promising that they would.

        • It sounds like they have released some driver sourcecode - but it is hacky, and not useable by Open WRT

          From the mailing list:

          There are also still some pieces missing: Since this driver does not use
          standard Linux Wireless APIs, it can only properly function with custom
          hostapd/wpa_supplicant hacks. I don't see those in the release.

  • Netgear has an R7000 model which works fine with OpenWRT. I'm not sure of the accuracy of the following: But I think ASUS has one too.

    Seems like a major failure on Lynksys/Belkin's part. But neither of those companies really impress me.Sure I used WRT54Gs in multiple applications and have a few laying around. But it's not like those things were actually *great*. They were good enough and hung around far too long for my taste.

    • Relatively early in their life, they were pretty much at parity or better with anything else you could get for roughly the same money and anything like the same convenience, in terms of specs, and much better supported. The fact that subsequent revisions were stagnant or worse and the state of routers-that-actually-work-with-3rd-party-builds didn't stay still took the shine off them. Then re-releasing (now with new higher price and extra letter!) the WRT54GL was something of an insult.
    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > But I think ASUS has one too.

      Asus RT-N66U ? (I specifically bought this model based on it's TomatoUSB support)

  • by dbIII (701233) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @04:28AM (#46821087)
    If the problems can be fixed by the early adopters on the bleeding edge compiling code that has been supplied to them then a more user-friendly patch is probably only a few days away.
    Early adopters to something ambitious should expect a hiccup every now and again.
    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Early adopters and beta testers are not the same thing. If I bought something of the shelf new and it didn't 100% meet my expectations then it deserves a crap review. If the problem is then fixed later it deserves an even worse review for being rushed to market before completion. We as consumers need to stop accepting half finished crap that companies are rolling out with promises of patches later, often which never come.

      • by dbIII (701233)

        We as consumers need to stop accepting half finished crap that companies are rolling out with promises of patches later

        Sadly that is the reality now, and in this case the problems are in something that comes as an extra instead of the core function of the device so it's excusable.
        I've even had to patch a DSLR camera to get a lens to work.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          If the lens was released before the camera than that's equally inexcusable. If it was released after then I don't see a problem. In this case however the product had an advertised feature that didn't work. Now if none of your lenses autofocused would you be upset? I mean the camera still takes photos right?

          What is reality or not isn't the issue. It's what we accept that is the issue. The current trends can be summed up with EA evil, DRM bad, oooh new game shuddup and take my money!!!

          And as the companies poc

  • Nothing has changed (Score:5, Informative)

    by auzy (680819) on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @05:13AM (#46821229)

    I work for a company which installs and deploys home / business networks for home automation purposes, and EVERY Linksys device we have tested, has inevitably ended up in the bin, not because they were faulty, but because they turned out to be rubbish.

    Linksys has a long history of producing unstable devices, and their original WRT54GL Linux router's only redeeming feature was that it was open source. The interface was terrible, and so was the firmware. In fact, we aren't only talking routers, because we noticed that some of Linksys's cheap gigabit switches had issues with stuttering when playing media (no other switches were affected by this issue, including 10/100 cisco ones). It's particularly pathetic given that Blu-ray requires only 54mbps to stream.

    Even assuming that patches are supplied which fixes the issues with this router, unless Linksys seriously has seriously improved their development team, and their hardware, you would be far better off with a cheap TP-Link which acts solely as a router/ADSL modem, a switch which manages the network traffic (NOT A LINKSYS ONE), and Unifi's for your Wifi (those are a dream to roll out in bulk, and the new Unifi software if it comes will even support Seamless wireless WITHOUT an expensive hardware controller).

    Further evidence, we didn't even want to risk selling our used Linksys equipment on eBay and damage our seller rating (it was worth the write-off)..

    • I work for a company which installs and deploys home / business networks for home automation purposes, and EVERY Linksys device we have tested, has inevitably ended up in the bin, not because they were faulty, but because they turned out to be rubbish.

      To be fair, this is true of pretty much *all* consumer grade routers running the vendor's stock firmware.

      Lets see, a few anecdotes from my own list of hardware:
      - Dlink router that decides legitimate traffic is some kind of an attack and blocks it, even when the firewall is disabled.
      - Netgear router that hangs when receiving certain well formed UPNP packets, even when UPNP is disabled. Also provides no information about the PPP link status, beyond "online" or "offline" so good luck trying to

      • by auzy (680819)

        Out of curiosity, have you found issues with the Wireless, multiple networks (ie, guest networks) and the Billion 7800NXL's? The only reason I ask, is because Billion is denying an issue with both of these things, but, we seem to be able to easily replicate issues..

  • I used to be a real fan of WRT54GL and happily ran Tomato on it for a long time, until I realized I needed gigabit ethernet (yes, I do need it) and Wireless N (yes I use it). The new router had to actually work, without crashing, and handle constant data load, and not need hand-holding.

    Linksys had the E3000 which worked fine except the CPU was wimpy and the 5GHz never worked for me. Throughput was awful. So I went to closed-source hardware, specifically an Asus router, and it works just great. No p

    • by stoploss (2842505)

      So I went to closed-source hardware, specifically an Asus router, and it works just great. No problems. Lots of bells and whistles and enough horsepower to cope with actually doing what the buzzwords on the box say it can do, without crapping out. This thing is a beast. Never needs nursing. It just works.

      Uh, I chose an 802.11ac Asus router for the hardware, too. However, I would not characterize it as "never needing nursing" [arstechnica.com].

      The closed source firmware sucks, apparently has a development team that can't comprehend basoc security, and the QoS system it has sends throughput down to telegraph-operator speeds. I would love to load OpenWRT on it, but I will settle for DD-WRT.

      I would give the router four stars if it cost $45, but it cost ~$200.

  • A (?possibly?) decent router with such bad firmware you will be forced to go to extraordinary lengths to fix it.

  • Wasn't WRT160NL also a successor?
  • by Kookus (653170)

    https://www.asus.com/us/Networ... [asus.com]

    I bought one of the previous models of these kinds of things from Asus and love the crap out of it. OpenWRT and all!

  • Go pick up an Asus RT-AC68U or RT-AC66U both support DD-WRT and from what I can tell from mine they work flawless*
    New they are a bit pricy but you can pickup refurbished for a reasonable price on newegg

    * So far so good...

  • I would highly suggest Asus routers as a good alternative. Their native firmware is a customized verison of OpenWRT and they can be setup to run a version of Tomato firmware if you can't be bothered with the complexity. I own an RT-N66U myself and highly recommend it and it's successors. They even have a microSD slot inside for no apparent reason other than for hacking.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday April 23, 2014 @11:50AM (#46824181) Homepage

    OpenWRT developer Felix Fietkau has something different to say [openwrt.org]:

    "Quick update on this subject: Linksys has now posted a GPL source for the WRT1900AC, and it contains the wifi driver sources. It appears to me, that this driver was properly licensed under GPL, with proper license headers in all source files."

    Of course, this is Linksys code so...

    As I anticipated, the code quality of the driver source code is abysmal. This looks like rewrite (not cleanup) material, ugly enough to cause eye cancer or frighten small children ;)

    The issue here isn't that there is no wireless support, just that it's of codethulhu quality.

  • I've got that on my router. Let me start by saying this is *NOT* the poster child for F/OSS. In fact, if you aren't seriously into hardware, or systems administration, DON'T! Never in my decades of professional work have I ever seen a project where people would talk about their "favorite builds"... in fact, I'd never *ever* thought of putting those two words together.

    I wanted one thing besides gigabit routing: the ASUS I have says it can serve as a prntserver for USB printers. Call ASUS, "oh, not that print

  • No wonder they suck now. Did they figure out how to fix/avoid that firmware bug that opens up NAS devices attached to most of their routers to the public yet? Or are they still going with "don't set remote admin to on"?

  • I was recently looking to get a new router to replace my old D-Link DWL-2100AP & DI-604 combo and I saw that WRT1900AC and wished it was available.

    I ended up getting a refurbed D-Link DIR-651 for $12.

    The WRT1900AC is on $250 on the Linksys store site. And PCWorld [pcworld.com] gives it a pretty decent review, with caveats, and out of the box firmware.

  • $400? Woah. I think this is why I have moved to Ubiquiti equipment. The ubnt.com equipment isn't wrt56g compatable, but it is Linux, pretty reliable and solid from what I can tell.
  • they're all crap, both in hw and sw. Yes, you can install dd-wrt ét al, but it's still generally crap hardware you're installing it on, and the firmware is only valid for certain hardware.

    I bought a Fit-PC 1.0 second hand for 500SEK ($76) and installed pfSense on it which is not hardware specific. Best router i've ever had. I have to use another device for wireless, but there I just re-used my old Linksys WRT610nv2 wireless router as a simple access point. You can get wireless-N access points prett

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