Linksys WRT54G: An Open Network Gateway

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The WRT54G is a pretty remarkable device. You've probably passed by it dozens of times on your visits to Best Buy. On the outside it looks like just another network router. What makes it so special is what's on the inside: it runs Linux. An entire development community has formed around this device.

Folks in the Seattle Wireless Group did some of the earliest work opening up the WRT54G. Now, many options are available for WRT54G hacking. I've been using the OpenWrt package, and I really like it. NewsForge posted a good article, called Linux Wireless Freedom, that describes some of the great things you can do with OpenWrt.

Thanks to OpenWrt, I am able to provide open wireless access, so that guests can have easy Internet access, while keeping my wired network secured behind a firewall. You can't do that with the standard Linksys firmware. It bridges the wireless and wired networks together into one, so that a wireless device becomes a network peer to a wired workstation. With OpenWrt I can break the bridge and then use Linux iptables to build a firewall to protect the wired network.

The other thing I've done is to provide dynamic DNS update capability, so that my domain name server knows how to reach my home network. This gives me easy remote access to my home workstation. I previously blogged about my adventures setting up dynamic DNS. I concluded that the BIND tools were not suitable for the router environment, but I was pleased with how easily they build under OpenWrt.

The weakest part about OpenWrt is the support. The documentation can be confusing, so it's not always clear where to begin. The user community is not very friendly. When I dropped into IRC for help, I was told "we don't have time to help newbies." That was disappointing. So, I wouldn't recommend OpenWrt unless you have significant experience working in Linux environments.

Comments

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re: Linksys WRT54G: An Open Network Gateway

Nice item! Just to offer an alternative platform[1] i like to introduce pc-engines wrap. You can easily linux or bsd flavors on it and wireless networking is allowed w/ mini pci wlan cards.

http://www.pcengines.ch/wrap.htm[1]

Cost are about approx. 150 Euro w/ wlan card, what is nearly 3 times more expensive then the wrt54g, but platform offers a lot of other applications.

Polarizers 2cent
Polarizers 2cent

re: Linksys WRT54G: An Open Network Gateway

Thought you might appreciate the following:

Linux Wireless Network

It's a technical step-by-step instruction guide on establishing a *working* wireless Linux network.

re: Linksys WRT54G: An Open Network Gateway

The latest version (v5.0) of the WRT54G *DOES NOT HAVE* Linux, it has switched from Linux and GPL.

Check the serial number of the device (visible on the outside of the box), if it starts with CDFB it will not have Linux on it. YOu might consider the more expensinve WRT54GS, but it probably will drop the GPL firmware in the next release, too.