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Linksys WRT54G v4 firmware confusion


EricBall

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A while back the wall wart for my Netgear wifi router died. I borrowed the one for my external drive as a temporary replacement, but I wanted a more permanent solution. This weekend was the community garage sale and I scored a Linksys WRT54G v4 for $5. This is the router which started the open firmware revolution, but I'm not sure I want to join the revolution.

 

The problem is I'm more into stability and easy to use than features beyond what the stock firmware provides. Well, there are two features which would be nice to have:

1. IPv6 firewall / tunnel blocking

2. separate guest wifi (for the Nintendo DS which only supports WEP)

 

But I look at the different options and I'm finding it very difficult to determine what I should be downloading...

 

- Tomato doesn't have guest wifi

- OpenWRT is has guest wifi, but it looks like not in the current release with the built-in open source driver

- dd-WRT has guest wifi, but is a monolithic install and the current "stable" version is buggy

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I'd try OpenWRT. You should be able to compile a version that will do guest wifi. dd-wrt is practically dead from what I hear.

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Yeah, I'm fairly certain that OpenWRT can do what I want, but there's a substantial learning curve which I'd rather not climb. It's not the command line stuff which I object to but the lack of "if you want/have this, you need (to do) this".

 

For example, the documentation on Guest WLAN (which is what I want) says:

"Note: Your hardware may not be capable of this. For example, open source b43 driver for Broadcome hardware cannot have multiple SSIDs. You need to use the proprietary wl driver by Broadcom (with 2.6 kernel) - currently, you need to build the images yourself. — sup 2012/05/12 20:22"

 

Okay, but that doesn't mean anything to me. How can I determine whether OpenWRT for my Linksys uses b43? The link the building images goes to the Image Generator, which appears to be Linux based and, again, makes some big assumptions on what knowledge I possess. It's the difference between a true/false/multiple choice test and an essay question. I can usually Google the answers to the former but get quickly exhausted by the latter.

 

OTOH, I'm seriously considering installing Tomato. It may not have the guest wifi feature (although it's been grafted into some modified versions), but it should include fixes for any common problems in the stock firmware.

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I gave one last try to figure out OpenWRT before giving up and installing Tomato. OpenWRT is almost certainly the more active firmware (since Tomato hasn't been updated in 2 years), but it suffers from "geek documentation". Maybe if I were willing to spend more time learning the lingo and the technology I'd be able to get to my desired destination, but I'd rather spend my limited free time doing other stuff.

 

Tomato, OTOH, was reasonably easy to download (yes, I downloaded more than I needed, but the readmes made it clear which one I needed), install and configure. I'm also fairly comfortable sticking with the defaults.

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