Over the weekend I decided to try something cool at home. I have a Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 wifi g-router that I got a few weeks back via Slickdeals. It’s a great router – very strong wifi signal / range and it was cheap – like $50 or something . . . but the HTTP based management GUI sort of sucked as most home routers do, even in expert mode . . . I mean it wasn’t BAD but it wasn’t really all that detailed and I strongly suspected there were lots of things I wasn’t being given the chance to tweak or configure.
Enter DD-WRT . . . this is a free 3rd party firmware that is compatible with a variety of SOHO wifi routers (tons of Linksys, Bufallo, Belkin, and numerous other routers with Broadcom and other chipsets). I threw the latest release candidate firmware on my router and WOW! The GUI is infinitely better than anything I’ve ever seen on a wifi router before and you can tweak just about every option you can imagine if you like. What I really like so far is that it gives me perfmon like data of the router (CPU utilization, memory utilization, graphical bandwidth monitoring!!), better packet logging (which helped me resolve an issue whereby my RDP NAT rules for allowing inbound RDP to my box at home weren’t working), support for sending netflow-like data (they call it RFlow) to a node on your network, the ability to OC the CPU (yes you can overclock your router!) and tons of other options (like new WPA2 profiles, and a slew of other crap I’ll never use at home but is nice to have).
On my Buffalo router I couldn’t flash it to DD-WRT via the web interface because it turns out the web interface will only accept .BIN files that are either signed by Buffalo or encrypted in a specific way or something. The way around this is to TFTP the .BIN file to the router like a second after you boot it up (I guess there is a narrow window of opportunity on these Broadcom based devices where they will accept .BIN files via TFTP during boot). I used that method to shove the DD-WRT bin file to the router and voila – it worked like a champ (I used a simple batch file that just pinged the router in a loop until it got a response and then shoved it up there via TFTP).
If you want to check out DD-WRT you can visit the official site here to download the firmware for your router for free: http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv2/index.php
Here’s what the web interface looks like after you flash your router – it’s really nicely done: http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv2/ddwrt.php
Here’s the link to the downloads page: http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv2/downloads.php
I’m living dangerously and using V24 RC4 (the ‘Generic Broadcom’ build) from 10/10/2007 and so far after 2 days of operation – it’s still rockin’!
I haven’t been able to view the bandwidth charts yet because that would involve installing an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) viewer on Vista . . . Adobe makes one but they are discontinuing support for this on 1/1/2008 and their latest viewer (3.03) was released to fix ‘security issues’ on Windows PCs . . . hmmmmm . . . I don’t really need to expose myself to even more Internet based attack surface – so I think I’ll pass on this – for now.