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Pair of nice little wireless routers...
Old 09-24-2008, 03:22 PM   #1
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Pair of nice little wireless routers...

Since we were talking about wireless routers the other day, I've been poking around. Found a couple of really good deals if anyone is thinking of making the plunge into a new router, or an upgrade.

These two:

Newegg.com - ASUS WL-500g Premium V2 IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g Multi-Functional Wireless Router - Wireless Routers
Newegg.com - ASUS WL-500W IEEE 802.11b/g IEEE 802.11n Draft Multi-Functional Wireless Router - Wireless Routers

Are $49 + shipping for the 11g version and $65 shipped for the 11N version.

Whats cool about this pair is:

- Very fast processor
- Lots of ram and flash
- Pretty good wireless radio's
- Ability to run the 'mega' version of dd-wrt
- Two USB ports you can use to put disk drives and printers

The first four need some explaining. Linksys uses a lot of GPL software such as linux to develop the software on their routers. As part of the GPL requirements, any company developing commercial s/w using the freebies has to release their source code. When they did, a number of people used that as a template to either add on to it or redevelop it as a separate open source product.

Think of dd-wrt for routers what linux is to operating systems. Free, open source, lots of cool features, a little bit more complicated and obscure than what you get in the commercial product.

If you implement it, you get a ridiculous number of features and capabilities that makes your humble little $50 router into something more in line with an enterprise router. You can watch traffic levels and see how much data you've pushed and pulled...handy now that many ISP's are putting caps on monthly use. You can control which devices and types of traffic (like VOIP and video) can be prioritized. And one thing thats really nice is that even if the manufacturer quits enhancing or fixing the firmware on your router as it ages, the dd-wrt alternative will continue to be developed. dd-wrt also may offer your router a considerable routing speed improvement, and in many version/implementations you can tweak the processor, memory and/or 802.11 radio to increase performance and range.

Do read the instructions really carefully on some of that stuff before playing with it though...its like overclocking a PC...things can go wrong if you go too far.

The last item, the USB ports...is pretty slick for these price points. You can attach USB printers, web cams, or an external hard drive. Anyone on the network can access them, and the router can even be instructed to download files directly to the hard drive while your computer is turned off. Music, movies and photos can also be delivered to computers and compatible devices on the network.

Thats a ton of goodies for $50 and $65 (after rebates). What sets these routers apart from a lot of similar models is the amount of memory, flash and cpu power thats available.

You may also be able to run one of the smaller versions of dd-wrt on your aging, boring old router and get some performance, security and reliability improvements out of it. Other distributions that are smaller, faster, and have different features are also kicking around. "Tomato" is a good example.

DD-WRT :: News
Tomato Firmware | polarcloud.com

You can obviously do all of this stuff with a full blown home server, but at <10 watts and something you're going to have turned on all the time anyhow, its an interesting idea.

What do you do all day indeed...?
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Old 09-25-2008, 12:21 AM   #2
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CFB, what happened to the Thibor software for routers. I loaded that one on my Linksys for some of the enhanced features that it had, a couple of years ago, and has worked flawlessly, but when I went to see if there are upgrades to it, like you mentioned for dd-wrt, Thibor seems to have disappeared. Not clear if there is a commercial paid for version now, but the free open source upgrade seems to have disappeared.
Any clue as to what happened to it?
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:35 AM   #3
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Looks like that project was discontinued in favor of some other similar projects a couple of years ago. There are a ton of these 'alternative firmwares' for the broadcom/MIPS based routers. Many of them are side projects by people who lose interest or get jobs

That was fun though...in looking for it I found people opening their router cases and strapping big fans to the top to cool it off so they could overclock the router to several times its stock packet routing performance. Some people...

Here's a list of firmwares I got from wikipedia. Whats really cool about most of them is that they're based on stock Linux kernels, so once you have it set up in many cases you can telnet into the box, download many linux applications and s/w packages that were written for the mips processor and run them directly on your router. Being able to stick an external hard drive or a USB flash stick on there gives a whole range of interesting options.

I've usually run a home server to share printers and do some background stuff, but the $100-150 a year in electricity is a lot to spend for some convenience features, plus it makes my office hotter than heck in the summer. It'll be interesting to explore what sorts of things you can make a paperback book sized router do as a replacement.

I think I'll try the stock firmware first and see if it suits me. Nice to know I'll have a bunch of alternatives if it doesnt. Seems router manufacturers these days release a box, make 2-3 firmware upgrades to fix some bugs and then discontinue it in favor of a new model.

Third-party firmware projects

Although listed here under Linksys, many of these will run on other brands of Linux-based devices, such as the Buffalo network-attached storage series. The extent of support for (and testing on) particular hardware varies from project to project.

* Major Projects
o DD-WRT Paid and free versions available. Includes lots of different features.[11] (Linux/GPL)
o OpenWrt A very customizable firmware written from scratch with a JFFS2 file system for package management aimed mostly toward advanced users.[12] (Linux/GPL)
o X-Wrt Extension of OpenWrt for the end-user with a web-management console with more than 40 control and status pages for a router.[13] (Linux/GPL)
o Sveasoft Paid and free versions available. Latest versions available via subscription.[14]
o Tomato - HyperWRT-based firmware aimed to be easy, stable and fast. Features advanced QoS and a number of web innovations such as Ajax and SVG graphs. The Tomato Manual is available at Wikibooks. (Linux/GPL)
o FreeWRT - Experimental firmware based on OpenWrt.

* Minor projects
o BatBox - RAM based distribution for experimenting, does not change firmware
o Bluebox - Automatic open Internet scanning and bridging software that runs on WRT54G with OpenWRT.
o Chillispot - Captive portal software that runs on WRT54G and other platforms, available under GPL
o Coova - OpenWrt based but with focus on Wireless Hotspot functionality.
o Earthlink's IPv6 Firmware - IPv6 feature added to original Linksys firmware (beta-test version)
o EzPlanet - Enhanced firmware based on DD-WRT v24 and including Layer 2 Load Balancer
o AutoAP - AutoAP is an add on to DD-WRT that allows routers to continuously scan for and connect to open (and predefined WEP) wireless networks.
o FON - Chillispot-based worldwide Hotspot network. After unsuccessfully attempting to develop a version that supports 2 SSIDs (one private, one public), FON abandoned the WRT54G series, and now distributes a router called La Fonera, which does support 2 SSIDs.
o Freifunk - German software supports wireless mesh networks with OLSR, based on OpenWrt
o Meraki - Mesh Networking Wifi AP developed thru Roofnet project, based on OpenWrt.
o OpennetFirmware - Firmware based on OpenWrt and parts of Freifunk.
o PacketProtector - OpenWrt-based security distribution that includes IDS, IPS, VPN, and web antivirus capabilities
o TinyPEAP - Secure wireless authentication feature added to Linksys firmware
o WiFi-Box - No documentation available as of January 2006.[15]
o Neighbornode
o Tarifa - Based on stock WRT54GL firmware.[16]
o UseMyNet - Captive Portal and Hotspot software that runs on OpenWrt
o WiFiDog Captive Portal - WiFi Dog by Ile Sans Fil, a Captive Portal software that runs on the OpenWrt platform
o WifiTastic - Hotspot solution for home or small business use. Features credit card billing. Runs on the OpenWrt platform.[17]
o Wirds.net A project which uses freifunk firmware with chillispot captive portal and worldspot.net authentication.

* Deprecated projects (no longer maintained)
o EWRT - Enhanced WRT, with integrated captive portal based on NoCatSplash
o HyperWRT - Original power boost firmware project by Avenger 2.0 to stay close to official WRT54G and WRT54GS firmware but add features such as transmit power, port triggers, scripts, telnet, etc.
+ HyperWRT +tofu - Based on stock WRT54GS firmware, HyperWRT and some additions.
+ Rupan HyperWRT - Based on stock WRT54G firmware and HyperWRT.
o HyperWRT Thibor Firmware based on stock WRT54GS firmware, HyperWRT (closed) +tofu and other additions.[18]
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:40 AM   #4
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Cool, I run a regular router and wireless router, but neither has QOS. Have some issues with Vonage when using high internet bandwidth. Maybe I'll replace both and flash to the other router IOS. Would be fun to fool around with the QOS.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:57 AM   #5
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The current stock ASUS/linkware firmware does some QOS and congestion control. The ddwrt software allows several methods of QOS and congestion control to be used even in combination with each other. TCP Vegas protocols are now incorporated and turned on by default. In essence, Vegas monitors link saturation and delays/defers applications that are over saturating the link.

Coupled WITH QOS, you can allocate bandwidth, limit total use of the link, prioritize applications, and throttle.

One guy reported doing some p2p, a big download, having a VOIP conversation and still getting snappy browser performance.
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:04 PM   #6
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Can you just plug any USB printer into these routers and use them as network printers? I thought that printers either needed a dedicated print server or to be connected to a network computer. Is the router the print server?
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Old 09-25-2008, 05:45 PM   #7
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Yep. The router essentially acts as the print server and presents a compatible network connection for the service to other machines on the network. Mine shows up via UPS tomorrow but its probably the usual stuff where you name the printer and then tell windows to print to \\servername\printername.

Some printers wont work, especially older ones. But most probably will, especially if they've got recent drivers. What most likely wont work is scanning functions if its a multifunction printer.

The router also acts as a file server, supporting Samba microsoft compatible networking and ftp services. Can be an external USB hard drive or a USB flash drive.

And you can hook up a web cam to it, providing the webcam has drivers that are compatible with network webcam sharing, and connect to it from any client.
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:41 PM   #8
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I see "pair of nice little" and it is hard for me to force the subject back to wireless routers. Could you please post a pair of nice little something else?

Ha
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:56 PM   #9
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You know what Ha? I've been waiting on you to say that. I originally typed "Nice little pair of..." and then reworded it to keep it out of the gutter for a day or two.

But if its a nice little pair you want, a nice little pair you'll get...
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File Type: jpg squirrel.jpg (32.1 KB, 6 views)
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:42 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cute fuzzy bunny View Post
You know what Ha? I've been waiting on you to say that. I originally typed "Nice little pair of..." and then reworded it to keep it out of the gutter for a day or two.

But if its a nice little pair you want, a nice little pair you'll get...
I am disappointed, amigo.

Ha
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:50 PM   #11
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I reflashed my wrt54gl with DD-WRT voip version running the Milkfish software. We have a private voice over IP network that we use to talk to my daughter and allow her access to our land-line (since she has only cell phone). The DD-Wrt has taken a bit of tweeking but if you enjoy the techie thing it's not bad.
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:23 PM   #12
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I am disappointed, amigo.

Ha
Let me make it up to you. Did you want some bigger ones?
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Old 09-25-2008, 10:01 PM   #13
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Let me make it up to you. Did you want some bigger ones?
Thank you, but no. I am fulfilled.

Ha
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Old 09-26-2008, 02:37 PM   #14
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Ah, I feel bad now.

Heres some pictures from this years Octoberfest. No squirrels whatsoever.

Damn Cool Pics: Oktoberfest 2008 in Munich
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Old 09-26-2008, 04:40 PM   #15
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Ah, I feel bad now.

Heres some pictures from this years Octoberfest. No squirrels whatsoever.

Damn Cool Pics: Oktoberfest 2008 in Munich
Now that's a good Bunny. Love to see those pretty blond girls kiss and make up. They must have had terrible spats. Glad they could adjust their differences. "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love..."

Ha
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Old 09-26-2008, 04:43 PM   #16
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Ya know I try Ha...I like to make sure everyone gets what they really want.

Sometimes I dont exactly know what that is...
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Old 09-26-2008, 06:59 PM   #17
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if this is the "pc" version of a multi-functional server - which is the mac version?
i'd love the functionality but don't want to get lost in technicalities or non-user friendliness!

btw my surviver just got here today! would love to plug into a router like this and switch to my laptop or desktop without dealing with the flash! and print from my laptop!
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Old 09-26-2008, 08:46 PM   #18
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Mac version? You mean one you pay twice as much for that doesnt do anything any differently?

Either would do for basic network sharing/printer/flash drive sharing, with the firmware that comes from the manufacturer.

Comes with a cd, you stick that in, run the installer, answer a couple of questions and off it goes.

Configuring a printer or flash drive is a little work, but its well documented in the manual for Windows XP users. I didnt see anything for Vista but its probably around somewhere.
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Old 09-26-2008, 08:53 PM   #19
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Got my wl-500W (the N version) today. To get the router with Wireless N for $5 more seemed like a reasonable idea. Took me about 10 minutes to get it hooked up with Gabe assisting, which means 5 minutes otherwise

The good news is that he now knows how to plug in ethernet cables. And no damage done when he shoved the power cord from the old router into my wifes boom box.

So far so good. Roku vod box works great, directv network stuff works so far, laptops are good, wireless photo frame and Wii work fine.
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Old 09-26-2008, 09:02 PM   #20
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Mac version? You mean one you pay twice as much for that doesnt do anything any differently?

Either would do for basic network sharing/printer/flash drive sharing, with the firmware that comes from the manufacturer.

Comes with a cd, you stick that in, run the installer, answer a couple of questions and off it goes.

Configuring a printer or flash drive is a little work, but its well documented in the manual for Windows XP users. I didnt see anything for Vista but its probably around somewhere.

just want to make sure i won't see any black screens that i have to type ping or bing or whatever to get it going... i thought i saw in some research that you had to do stuff like that, but that might be old versions...
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