Monday, December 22, 2008

Best wireless router which can be flashed with Linux

Two years earlier if I had thought about buying a router that can be easily flashed with a Linux distribution (ddwrt, openwrt, etc) - I would have blindly bought Linksys WRT54GL the router of choice for open source enthusiasts and hobbyists. Two years and nothing much has changed.
There are a few better versions of WRT54GL but they are hard to find and I would prefer them if I can find them :).

There are now more routers and more confusing standards - but none of them seem to have good reviews and the right hardware for flashing it with ddwrt or openwrt. Some of the netgear model claims open source support - but mostly has bad reviews and I stayed away from them. Linksys has so many models to choose from and choosing the right one that can be flashed was a long process. Each model has different versions and only the older versions of the model has more Flash and more RAM which is ideal for ddwrt or anything else - so if you get them (mostly used ones through ebay or elsewhere) - you can build a more powerful wireless router than the WRT 54GL.
I also wanted to try out the 300+ N series (300N, 310N, etc, and the 350N with the fastest processor in low end linksys models) but almost all them had bad reviews in most websites mostly with the default firmware - there were one or two reviews with ddwrt and looked good. OpenWrt description of 300N series was very promising to me with Redboot as the boot loader and seeing your Linux boot from the scratch. I really wanted to check it out. I have worked with Redboot and the Intel XScale processors which has a separate processor for encryption. It is usually useful when you want to use VPN's and leverage the encryption hardware of the XScale. New 300+N routers costed atleast $85 and the advantages were

  1. better range
  2. newer n standard with higher speeds
  3. more ram and flash memory
  4. Better processor

no. 3 and no.4 was the most tempting of all. I am not even sure if no.1 and no.2 are true - some reviews said that the speed was worse than g and range was almost similar or worse. I would wait for some more time for the n standard to take off and the prices to come down. Till then I am happy with 54GL and hoping to see more powerful routers which can run Linux.

Source: Wikipedia - (

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