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Wireless Networking Software Upgrades Hardware Linux

Creating A Super-Router (For Free) 329

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 @12:13PM (#8180111)
    Want to hack your Linksys WRT54G Router yourself?

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

  • Wondershaper... (Score:5, Informative)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:15PM (#8180140)
    For those of you that don't know, and are interested, Wondershaper can be found HERE [].

    It is AMAZING.

    Sample config:


    # 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.
  • Linksys isn't bad (Score:2, Informative)

    by SpaceCadetTrav ( 641261 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:16PM (#8180147) Homepage
    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 ( 551216 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:17PM (#8180163) Homepage
    i'd like to recommend the Neo firmware hack [], 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...)

  • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:3, Informative)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:28PM (#8180267)

    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:i'd like to know (Score:2, Informative)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:31PM (#8180292) Homepage Journal

    Cisco products are expensive but pretty damn stable.

    Your "open source" comment is stupid, Cisco uses ASICs and other hardware level goop for much of their routing. Unless you're going to open a chip fab plant and start open sourcing your chips... need I say more? (There are some exeptions, ala the Cisco PIX 525 firewall, basically a PC motherboard with some custom stuff for failover etc.)

    "Open Source cures cancer!" blah blah blah Use the right tool for the job, you won't paint yourself into a corner and you leave your options open, lad.
  • by steak ( 145650 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:36PM (#8180344) Homepage Journal
    I like my ClarkConnect [] 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 @12:38PM (#8180361)
    OPENWRT! []
  • by threeturn ( 622824 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:39PM (#8180368)
    Netgear's support web site contains the source for some of their routers (eg the DG834 series []). Cool idea for people to be able to add their own features.
  • Works great (Score:4, Informative)

    by prator ( 71051 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:39PM (#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 [] 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.

  • by amias ( 105819 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:47PM (#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 NotoriousQ ( 457789 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @12:54PM (#8180491) Homepage
    6to4 is your friend. For linux please refer to the Linux IPv6 HOWTO []

    For windows, go to your network configuration. Find your lan, and enable their IPv6 driver. XP only.(SP1 only?) I believe it self configures to use anycast, so that should be it. not know. I assume something along the lines of what linux does will work.

    Good luck.
  • by leerpm ( 570963 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:08PM (#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.
  • by swfranklin ( 578324 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:11PM (#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.
  • Re:Linksys (Score:2, Informative)

    by angusr ( 718699 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:29PM (#8180798)
    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 hacked firmware versions available it'll be soup and nuts to give it those features, and the price is right.

    Someone said that they may be hurting sales of their more expensive products which have the advanced features these hacks are adding. I don't believe that's true. People who need those features badly (from a business sense) will still buy the expensive kit; they need the support. Cheap-ass hobbyists like myself will buy the cheaper kit and hack it. So all they're doing is persuading me to buy their cheap kit over someone else's cheap kit, and sales are sales...

  • by DamnYankee ( 18417 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:34PM (#8180842) Homepage
    Sveasoft is working on a mesh firmware for the Linksys WRT54G. We hope to have a preliminary release sometime in late March.
  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@d[ ]net ['al.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:41PM (#8180897)
    And for the lazyass:

    This guy [] has packaged firmware flashes that incorporate the most popular expansions. All I wanted was some basic SNMP, and it provided - along with some other handy features.

  • by dagnabit ( 89294 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:02PM (#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.
  • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:5, Informative)

    by pacman on prozac ( 448607 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:05PM (#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.
  • by MbM ( 7065 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:14PM (#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 []. 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.
  • Re:Wondershaper... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pacman on prozac ( 448607 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @03:03PM (#8181637)
    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/Juniper/Foundary/Anything else can do this. Most seem only able to deal with classifying based on port or IP addresses, and sometimes with diffserv, which is also possible with iptables/tc (reading the TOS field).

    Since VoIP and similar are getting more and more popular, QoS is going to become more of an issue, nice to see linux could be well out in front on that one.
  • by Hobophile ( 602318 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @03:38PM (#8181962) Homepage
    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @04:28PM (#8182537)
    It's possible, too with that router, I own myself a Ravotek 54G Router but I use the Belkin software atm. because of failures in the firmware from Ravotek.
    (Should be even more cheaper than the Belkin-Router, but seems to have the same ingredients.)

    But therefore you have to recreate a firmware, or just a kernel-module, I didn't got the Linksys FW run until now, but that could be done by rewriting the header.

    Take a look on the homepage, they have some posts about the belkin router.

  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @04:29PM (#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 Syrrh ( 700452 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:16PM (#8182997)
    Linksys equipment won't be running Cisco's IOS, but that doesn't mean it's no good. Pretty common practice for Cisco, there are quite a few companies they've eaten just to cover a particular niche. The 675/678 DSL router sold around 1999-2002 was the same way. They took over the NetSpeed product line, and only changed the sticker on top of it.

    Identical in every way, but it let them sell a budget box without dropping the price on anything that runs IOS, since this one ran a dumbed-down version called CBOS. Oh, and it let them eliminate a competitor before they could expand into a bigger threat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:35PM (#8184739)
    That feature is already being worked on, and will show up in a future version of the sveasoft firmware.
  • WRT54G hacking group (Score:3, Informative)

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


  • by fltsimbuff ( 606866 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:27PM (#8185168) Homepage
    I had these same issues after upgrading from version the 2.03 that came with it, to 2.1... I went back to 2.03 as a result, which is available here [].

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson