Tomato Router, WRT54G

So, Linksys makes a lot of little blue boxes. One of them, the NSLU2/Slug, I talked about here before; it's a cigarette-pack sized solid state box with two USB ports and a 10/100bT NIC. It has Linux on it, which you can replace with a fairly stock Debian install, and off you go with anything involving Linux with USB; external drives, printers, and so on.

The WRT54G is Linksys's regular wireless router, and costs about $40. It has four 10/100bT ports, and (obviously) a wireless networking card built in, and you can replace the firmware with a fairly stock installation of Linux, DD-WRT. DD-WRT gives you a ssh/terminal login, and a lot more functionality in the router; it becomes something akin to a slightly underpowered $600 machine, instead of the $40 you dropped for it.

I've avoided DD-WRT, mainly because the stock firmware has always done enough for me, and having another Linux box around seems like an administrative hassle. But then, while wading through docs to install Apple's WDS to a Linksys primary router, I stumbled on Tomato. Tomato has most of the core functionality enhancements from DD-WRT, but is almost entirely done in a HTTP GUI. The GUI is easy, and does a wonderful job of showing me what the router is doing, who's connected, how much bandwidth is being used, and so on. It also has huge updates from the stock firmware involving QoS routing, DDNS, access restriction, and pretty much all of the other heavierweight routing tasks you expect from Linux.

A+++. Twenty second installation, two minute learning curve, and a much wider range of tools should I need them.

1 comment:

Dean Jackson said...

As a later edit, the model number is apparently now "WRT54-GL", with the L for linux. No guarantee that the WRT54G being sold now ($10 cheaper than the GL) will install Tomato.

That said, seems like a way to squeeze an extra $10 outta the linux tinker. Fair enough, I suppose.