Tip of the Trade: DD-WRT

By Carla Schroder (Send Email)
Posted Mar 27, 2007

The bargain of the century is the Links WRT54G line of wireless broadband routers and its many cousins: Buffalo WHR-G54S, ASUS WL-520g, Belkin F5D7230-4 and others. These little four-port boxes will set you back less than $100, and some are even less than $50. On their own, they're not much to get excited about — they're just inexpensive, home-user-oriented broadband routers with fair-to-middling firmware. But you can turn your cheapie box into a $500 powerhouse by replacing the stock firmware with DD-WRT.

Looking to supercharge your cheap blue box? The Links WRT54G line of wireless broadband routers and its kin, may be the bargain of the 21st century when combined with DD-WRT -- Broadcom-chip-based open source firmware.

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DD-WRT is Broadcom-chip-based open source firmware written for 802.11g wireless routers. Although it's designed to fit on dinky devices with as little as 4 megabytes of storage and 16 megabytes RAM, it's a feature-filled powerhouse. Among its many capabilities are:

  • Name services
  • Dynamic DNS support
  • NTP timeserver
  • QoS Bandwidth Management
  • SNMP
  • SIP Proxy
  • VLAN
  • Wireless hotspot
  • WPA/TKIP with AES, and EAP (translation: meaningful WPA2 wireless security)
  • OpenVPN client and server

And, of course, bales more useful stuff. DD-WRT comes in several free-of-cost editions with different features. Commercially-supported versions are available as well. The commercial edition has additional features, like per-user bandwidth control and PPPOE-Relay. The developers will also contract for custom work.

Be sure to follow the installation instructions carefully when installing DD-WRT for the first time, to avoid the possibility of bricking your router. Visit dd-wrt.com for all kinds of howtos and links to supported devices.

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