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Wireless Networking Communications The Internet Hardware

Hacking the Linksys WRT54G 213

knightrdr writes "Robert X. Cringely has posted an interesting article on the PBS web site about modifying the Linksys WRT54G wireless G broadband router to build a wireless layer on top of the Internet. He argues that with as little as a $70 investment per node, the Sveasoft WRT54G Firmware could be the first in a line of many wireless devices to enable a giant leap forward for the Internet."
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Hacking the Linksys WRT54G

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  • Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by tjansen ( 2845 ) * on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @07:46AM (#9302059) Homepage
    It's a dupe, was posted on friday []. Still one of the better cringely columns...
  • openwrt (Score:5, Informative)

    by thehosh ( 755582 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @07:46AM (#9302062) Homepage
    back to the roots: openwrt [] is much more fun!

    only a base system, which can be customized for your needs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @07:48AM (#9302070)
    Please note that Sveasoft uses a very restrictive development model. The firmware is developed by a closed group and only released to paying customers who lose access to future releases the instant they redistribute the firmware.
  • Others (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @07:57AM (#9302098) Homepage Journal
    Sveasoft isn't the only game in town (though it is one of the top ones). Others include:
    EWRT [], from Portless Networks (a fork of Sveasoft)
    Wi-Fi Box []

    Ahh... the wonders of OSS and GPL. :-)

  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:00AM (#9302113)'s GPL'd. They cannot put any restrictions on distribution other than those implied and expressed within the GPL itself (unless my understanding is incorrect). I am a paying Sveasoft subscriber, and all that gets me is access to the betas and pre-releases which aren't available to non-paying. Oh, and I can download the PDF manual.
  • by zoobab ( 201383 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:05AM (#9302129) Homepage
    I would like to say that there is not only Linksys, but all Broadcom based routers (Trendnet TEW-411BRP, Belkin F5D7230, Motorola, Asustek wl300g et wl500g, Buffalo Airstation, Dell Truemobile2300).

    See: te rs

    There is also the other APs based on Intersil:
  • Re:Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by elmegil ( 12001 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:06AM (#9302132) Homepage Journal
    Still one of the better cringely columns...

    If you buy his "you can resell your DSL bandwidth" argument which in 90% of cases is not true.

  • OpenWRT (Score:5, Informative)

    by cnf ( 96794 ) <frank@nullsens[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:16AM (#9302164) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I run OpenWRT ( on my WRT54G. In my opinion, it is better, and my contact with the developers so far on IRC has been wonderfull.

    Check it out, and a WRT54G (or the WRT54GS) is a nice investment, even if it was just for its geekyness :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:21AM (#9302190)
    1. Sure, but if you have five people using the same ADSL line rather than five separate ones it definitely changes the economics of it for them.

    I'm in a group house (5 guys) and will soon suggest this as a way to cut internet and phone bills. It goes from expensive to cheap real fast, even adding in the cost of extra "phone numbers".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @08:33AM (#9302249)
    Just remember that with a QoS-enabled router, your 5+ simultaneous pr0n downloads will be deprioritised as soon as someone picks up the phone, and they'll really drop off in the worst-case scenario when you're all calling at the same time. You might want to try dropping to two ADSL lines instead of just one: then you'll have one for voice and one you can dedicate for data without worrying about QoS issues. Set up Asterisk in the house and you can REALLY geek out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @09:13AM (#9302433)
    With release cycles as long as Sveasoft's, that hardly makes a difference. AFAIK there hasn't been a release ever since Sveasoft switched to the subscription model. At least they're not leaking binary-only releases anymore like they did when people (rightfully) started complaining about unavailable source code. That was a really lame excuse for not releasing source (and violating the GPL): "it's just a prerelease, no source for you".
  • Re:OpenWRT (Score:5, Informative)

    by cnf ( 96794 ) <frank@nullsens[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @09:40AM (#9302597) Homepage Journal
    It is a core system, very basic. On top of that you can install what you want with ipkg's.

    I have running:
    trafic shaping with iptroute2+tc
    custome firewall script
    no-ip client
    network syslogd

    It doesn't run a webinterface (yes, to me that is an advantage.)

    Next on the agenda: vpn client to the office. ( so I am always connected from home.)
    serial interface so the nids can give instructions to the WRT.

    This is exactly what I need, from a 12watt machine (the WRT uses 12V DC, 1A) that makes 0 noice (no moving parts)

    And above all, it is a shiny fun geektoy :)
  • Re:Dupe (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @09:44AM (#9302621) Homepage

    . . . you can resell your DSL bandwidth . . .

    Except, this is a violation of the state DCMA laws that are being passed nation wide. In the old days, sharing cable with your neighbor was called "Cable Theft." In Arkansas, they updated that law with the boilerplate DCMA to where it is now a theft of any IT service (telephone, DSL, Cable). So, hacking a router to where you do this is only a felony. Teaching how to hack is also considered a crime in some jurisdictions . . .

  • Re:Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @09:53AM (#9302675) Homepage Journal
    My TOS explicitly allows me to resell my bandwidth, heck, my ISP [] even has a page explaning what it is and how you can set it up.
  • Re:Cancer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dk.r*nger ( 460754 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @10:17AM (#9302855)
    Repeat after me: GMOs will not kill me.

    There can be so many other things wrong with GMOs (most scary is various pests inheriting resistancy), but they do not kill you per se.
  • Re:Cancer? (Score:3, Informative)

    by eggboard ( 315140 ) * on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @10:18AM (#9302866) Homepage
    There's nothing definitive, but the regulations that govern Part 15 devices like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth require extremely low signal strength in client devices -- effectively 10 to 1000 times less than a cell phone signal. I have some concerns that we'll find that a cell phone against your brain might have been a bad idea, but a Wi-Fi device across the room is only a few orders of magnitude above background thermal noise.
  • Re:Dupe (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ateryx ( 682778 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @11:12AM (#9303490)
    That's why you monitor him. Log everything he does. Set up a system that will alert you if he does anything not cool. I'm sure there's software out there that will do just that.. just take a look out on sourceforge or freshmeat.

    I agree, jsut set up a *nix box and run ipcop and you can pretty much see when he goes to the bathroom.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @01:04PM (#9304853)
    Technically, they still have to provide the source to anything they provided you, but revoking your subscription means they don't have to provide you with any more updates.

    Unless they bundly the source code with the firmware, they have to provide source code to anyone who asks, for any of it, for three years.
  • by Yeechang Lee ( 3429 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @01:54PM (#9305550) Homepage
    (I've also posted this to and alt.internet.wireless.)

    I've had a WRT54g v2 since February, and have tried several third-party firmware offerings over the past few months. I have a Comcast 3000/256 cable modem connection, and have been 100% Linux at home for almost nine years. Here's my quick impressions of each:
    • Sveasoft Samadhi2 - Certainly the most famous alternative. Unfortunately I could *never* get, after repeated tries on multiple occasions, to get either the static DNS or bandwidth management, two of the three primary reasons for using a third-party to work. Static DNS (having the router's DNS server proffer the static DHCP settings as internal IP addresses for machines on my network) works for about 15-30 seconds after a reboot but then suddenly stops. Bandwidth management has never, ever worked for me (and, yes, I'm aware of the bug in at least one Sveasoft version in which the upload and download values got swapped). And of course there's that ridiculous bug that corrupts static DHCP entries. I have no interest in paying Sveasoft for later firmware versions in which I presume these features actually work as advertised; without restarting the disputes on the subject, I am very dubious about the legalities of what James Ewing is doing with GPL code.
    • Enterprise WRT 0.2 beta1 - Based on the Sveasoft Samadhi2 source code and also integrating the NoCatSplash authentication portal, which I don't need. Same results as with Samadhi2 regarding (non)functionality of bandwidth management or static DNS and the static DHCP bug.
    • OpenWRT b4 - Got errors in the compilation process (not the make not being able to find two tarfiles; I downloaded those manually) so used a binary I found online. Promising, and the package system is quite elegant, but the the lack of substantial documentation and (more important) the lack of a bandwidth management package also made it a nonstarter.
    • Wifi-Box - The firmware I use now. Static DHCP and static DNS work right and work well. SNMP support is useful. No bandwidth management, but then it doesn't promise it or anything else it can't deliver. Having the source code on SourceForge offers at least the promise of future improvements by someone, if not the incommunicado-at-present author.
  • Re:Cisco VPN? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, 2004 @02:53PM (#9306338)
    the cisco linux vpn client is a bunch of binary-only user space programs (about 2.5mb in size) plus some kernel modules that can be compiled and linked to your running kernel providing low level crypting (ipsec?) support.. the binary stuff wont run on the w54 for sure so it's impossible

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.