Posts Tagged DD-WRT

Appropriate setting is needed to get 300mbps wireless signal – ASUS RT-N16

I have the router for a long time. It was flashed with DD-WRT customized firmware. I did not spend time to study the firm and set it up based on past experience with other 802.1g router. Apparently I found that my wireless speed is limited to 54mbps. Never get up to 300 mbps. This is great router and suppose to transmit data in 802.1n 300 mbps speed.

The other day, I found a piece of information on the internet. It said that to get 300 Mbps speed, RT-N16 router should be set at 40Mhz radio signal. For strong security the WPA2/AES should be used. I did the setup and only see my iPod can some something like 108Mbps. And the speed frequently drop to 11MBps. I was puzzled a while. Then I reset my RT-N13U/B1 repeater and rebooted it. Hooray, now most time, I can see the  wireless speed is 300Mbps in the RT-N16 router. So my experience is that the router speed is depends on the speed of the connected clients. If a client connects to the router with low speed, everything else will be drag down to the low speed.

 

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Experience of playing ASUS RT-N16

First look

The router looks neat, white with three antennas. I love it at the very beginning. I hook it to my laptop and visit its web page. ASUS stock firmware provides all the functionality to utilize the router. I can plug in USB flash drive and access files in it. The stock firmware does not provide your flexibility to access variety of settings related to router functions. After I play it for a couple of hours, I lost my interests on the stock firmware. I started to search internet to find alternative firmware for this router. I tested a couple of the firmwares, Oleg and DD-WRT firmware.

OLeg firmware

I installed Oleg firmware version RT-N16-1.9.2.7-rtn-r2274.trx to my RT-N16 router. Its functionality is better than the stock firmware but not comparable to DD-WRT firmware I used in the Linksys router. I keep this firmware running for a couple of weeks. I read a lot of materials from the following blogs and posts. They are very useful. I suggested you also read them.

DD-WRT firmware

Finally I decided to flash the router with my favorite alternative firmware DD-WRT (version DD-WRT v24-sp2 (08/07/10) mega). It is the latest one. I followed DD-WRT Wiki for RT-N16 page to install the DD-WRT firmware to RT-N16 router. The router running in this firmware is stable and powerful. I have the flexibility to set a lot things. See my another post related to DD-WRT: A tutorial of using DD-WRT firmware in routers, for detail.

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A tutorial of using DD-WRT firmware in routers

Router and firmware

A router, good or bad, always has official firmware installed. The functionality of the official firmware may be powerful, stable and easy to use, or buggy, weak and hard to use. That is totally depending on who made it and what hardware it has. The hardware of a router is fixed and hard to be replaced and/or changed while the firmware of a router can be changed and replaced based what hardware it has. In the market, there are a number of customized alternative firmware available for a lot of modes and brands of routers, such as DD-WRT, OpenWRT, X-WRT, Gargoyle, tomato, RouterTech, oleg and so on. By flashing a router with an alternative firmware, the router’s functionality can be dramtically improved, such as user/application access and additional functionality, almost at all time surpassing the capabilities of the original device. For example, a series of Linjsys routers can be flashed with DD-WRT firmware. Actually the first alternative firmware of routers were developed around LinkSys routers.

DD-WRT

DD-WRT is Linux-based firmware for wide range of ieee 802.11a/b/g/h/n wireless routers based on a Broadcom or Atheros chip reference design. It covers brands like Linksys, Asus, D-Link, Netgear and many brands you never knows. Since DD-WRT is so well developed and documented, it comes pre-installed with routers manufactured by Buffalo Technology and a few others.

Among features not found in the original Linksys firmware, DD-WRT adds the Kai Daemon for the Kai Console Gaming network, WDS wireless bridging/repeating protocol, Radius Authentication for more secure wireless communication, advanced Quality of Service controls for bandwidth allocation, software support for the SD-Card hardware modification, and a lot more. You can find official definition of the DD-WRT firmware at What is DD-WRT?.

Here I will not discuss how to install DD-WRT firmware to your wireless router. Please visit dd-wrt.com and search the router database. After you find specific information about your router, you should follow the instructions on the site to flash your router with the alternative firmware.

Connection to internet

In the Setup page of the DD-WRT firmware, you can find a section related to WAN Connection Type. There are multiple selections of the connection types: Static IP, Automatic Configuration – DHCP, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, and HeartBeat Signal. To select which connection type, that totally depends on your ISP provider. Please refer to their instructions when you setup your router. In my situation, I just use the default option, Automatic Configuation – DHCP. My ISP provider is MediaCom high speed cable internet service.

DHCP setup

Every router has default setting for the DHCP server. You can set the start IP address and maximum DHCP users in your LAN. One important setting is the static DNS servers. You can provide three static DNS server. I use my router as the first and OpenDNS NDS server (208.67.220.220) as the second and then Google Free DNS server (8.8.8.8) as the last. See the following screen shot for reference.

Time settings

One of very useful setting is the time settings. I enable NTP client and set the correct Time Zone and Summer Time (DST). We need provide a NTP server for The Server IP/Name. There are a lot of free NTP servers available. I choose “pool.ntp.org”, which is a big virtual cluster of timeservers providing reliable easy to use NTP service for millions of clients.



Use dynamic DNS

In the DDNS tab, you can setup automatic DDNS service update. In case you do not know what is DDNS. All home networks hook to public network through internet providers, either cable high speed internet service or phone line high speed internet service or others. One public IP address is assigned to a home network LAN. This IP address is not fixed and always change. If you want to access your network from internet, outside of your LAN. It is the IP address you need. Since it is always changing, how can we keep track of it. That is where DDNS service come in to play. By using router’s function related to DDNS, router will automatically call the DDNS service and update the currect IP address whenever it is changed. This is neat service and allow you running web server in your LAN and server the world. The following screen shot demonstrate the DynDNS service. The hostname is the domain you chose in the DynDNS.org.

Wireless Security

We you are running a wireless router at home, you always want to secure your wireless signal. Otherwise you provide other people to utilize your internet service and expose your home network to potential security issue. There are a lot of selection, you can choose what is suitable to you. The screen shot demonstrate WPA personal security method I used. You can find this in Wireless -> Wireless Security.

Port Forwarding

As I mentioned that you can run web server in your LAN and serve the world. To achieve this is pretty simple.  Choose NAT/QoS -> Port forwarding. Click Add button to add an application to the port forwarding table. Here is am example of adding http web service to the table. Once this setting is complete, you can visit your LAN web server all over the world with no restriction. Is it neat? I think so.  In addition to web service, you can add FTP, mail, and all other service based on your needs.

Use LAN port as WAN port and vice versa

Sometimes, we have a need to switch WAN port to LAN port or vice versa. One situation I can think of is the WAN port is broken and you need switching one LAN port to WAN for internet connection. In the following screen shot, you can see all LAN ports 1,2,3,4 are set in VLAN 1 and WAN port is set in VLAN 2. If you need switch one of LAN port to WAN port, just uncheck one of PORT 1-4 in VLAN 1 and check it in VLAN 2 and do corresponding setting. You can achieve your goal.

Traffic monitoring

One very useful feature of DD-WRT provides is network monitoring. You can find it at Status -> Bandwidth page. There are three graphs: LAN, WAN, and WLAN. See the following screen shot. I always use this function to monitor the network activity and detect any problem in my network.

Anyway, DD-WRT alternative firmware is an very nice and stable firmware I ever used. When I use Linksys router, I used it. After I upgraded my router to ASUS gigabit router, I still use it. I love the functions and flexibility of DD-WRT firmware provides. Even though I only explored a few functions it provides, I know it has more functions and I can switch them on when I need them.

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Flash Linksys WRT54GL with DD-WRT

Linksys WRT54GL router is an excellent router, robust and stable with strong signal. I like this router very much. It performs even better if you can manage to flash it with a third party firmware, DD-WRT. Here is some experience about flashing this router with DD-WRT.

First visit DD-WRT at http://www.dd-wrt.com/ to learn more about the router and the firmware. Click “supported hardware” and enter “wrt54gl” and clik the router link in the search result. It will lead you to a firmware page with multiple versions avaialble, see below.

Description Filename Date Size
Micro Generic dd-wrt.v24_micro_generic.bin 2009-02-09 1,69 MB
Micro Generic dd-wrt.v24_micro_olsrd_generic.bin 2009-02-09 1,64 MB
Mini Generic dd-wrt.v24_mini_generic.bin 2008-07-27 2,77 MB
Xbox no-kaid Generic dd-wrt.v24_nokaid_generic.bin 2008-07-27 3,32 MB
Standard Generic dd-wrt.v24_std_generic.bin 2008-07-27 3,59 MB
Standard Generic dd-wrt.v24_usb_generic.bin 2009-02-09 3,84 MB
VoIP Generic dd-wrt.v24_voip_generic.bin 2008-07-27 3,55 MB
VPN Generic dd-wrt.v24_vpn_generic.bin 2008-07-27 3,53 MB
Mini-Build required for inital flashing via WEB dd-wrt.v24_mini_generic.bin

Since WRT54GL has 4MB flash memory, you can select Min Generic and upgrade it directly through the router’s user interface. The best way to do it correctly, you need exactly follow the steps described in the following page: http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Linksys_WRT54G/GL/GS/GX.

After the router was flashed with DD-WRT, it runs smoothly for a long time without any reboot. It totally change our view and ways to use router. Before I own this WRT54GL router, I have used USR 5461 router for more than two years. I had to reboot it from time to time to keep internet running, especially, after I upgraded the router’s firmware to the latest. It got worse. I decided to tried other routers, particularly, gigabit N router. I bought two of these kind of routers and tested them. No of them works well. The worst one is ZyXel wireless N router. I totally ruined my network, disconneted me in several minutes interval. I was so disappointed and went to online and searched for robust router, finnally got Linksys WRT54GL router. I am really happy to purchase this router. By upgrading it with DD-WRT firmware, the router became the best router ever.

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