Linksys pretty much started a revolution in cheap networking hardware quite some time ago. I continuously ran one of their broadband router/firewalls ever since my old linux NAT router got hacked. (A long story, but the net sum of it: I had failed to properly install a firewall AND was running the ever-hackable WUFTP daemon… I never claimed to be a linux system admin expert, especially at that time!) About three years ago, Linksys was confronted with the fact that their very popular WRT54G series of routers was running on Linux, GPLed code, with no source code available for download. A month later, they apparently made the source available.
Fast forward 3 years later… There is now a thriving open source community supporting software for these nifty little boxes, with all kinds of useful features. I decided to spend some time playing around with DD-WRT on some of my WRT54G’s that I had lying around, including a v6 model, and a v1.1 model. This process is not for the faint of heart… there were a few times where I thought I had bricked my router. But after a few hours, I had a working DD-WRT installation on my WRT54G (v1.1) with OpenVPN working. How cool is that?
One thing is for sure! I’ll certainly be a bit pickier when it comes to choosing my routers in the future. These boxes have two types of memory: main memory (temporary use, like the memory on your desktop or laptop) and flash non-volatile memory (where the linux firmware image is stored). I’ll definitely be looking for higher specs now on any routers I purchase, now that I know I can put them to good use.
PS for those of you looking for commercially supported firmware, check out: Sveasoft. See below for more useful links:
What is DD-WRT? (including differing versions available for download)