DD-WRT: My Router Runs Linux

Installing DD-WRT on the Linksys WRT54GL went pretty much as the installation instructions said it would. I made it a point to follow them EXACTLY. Before getting started, I reviewed a lot of the info on the wiki pertaining to my particular router model as well as others.

Firstly, I powered up the router and performed a hard reset (hold the reset button down for 30 seconds). This just ensures that the router is using its factory default configuration. I then unplugged my Ubuntu Edgy machine from the old router and connected it to the WRT54GL. I reconfigured my network interface from a static address to DHCP and renewed my IP. I did this from the command line so it looked like sudo ifdown eth0 ; sudo ifup eth0.

The firmware installation is done from the router’s web based administration panel, so using Firefox 2.0.0.1 I logged in and navigated to the firmware upload administration tab. I used the browse button to locate dd-wrt.v23_generic.bin (which I had downloaded and extracted when I ordered the router) and clicked upgrade. After a few moments, I received a page telling me that the upload was successful and I walked away from the whole project for 5 minutes (as the wiki instructed me to. I wanted a beer anyway).

Time passes…

Back at the keyboard now, I click the Continue button and I’m presented with a white page and some fields asking for my username and password. I close Firefox, perform another hard reset of the router, open Firefox again and enter the address of router. Just like magic, I’m presented with the DD-WRT configuration pages of the router. Success!

Since it’s late and I just want to get things working, I’m only doing the basics, setting up static DHCP and a new wireless SSID.

Step one, change the default password from “admin” to something much, much better. Next, I collect all of the MAC addresses from the machines on my network and make my way to the Administration/Services tab. There, I assigned the MAC addresses to host names/IP addresses and configured my LAN domain name (just something I like to play with). I started testing DCHP by connecting to each of the Linux machines, changing them from a static to a DHCP configuration and renewing the IP address (same commands as above). Flawless! With the Linux machines done I configure the rest of the machines on the network the same way.

Next, I create a new wireless SSID and configure my two wireless machines to associate with it. This is where I had a little trouble. Everything but the Ubuntu install on the laptop connected without issue. For whatever reason I just can’t get the bcm4306 based wireless card to associate with the router using manually configured NDISwrapper. I’ll revisit this when I’m not so tired :)

Update: I think I have this fixed, I’ll tell you how in another post

I know I said I was only doing the basics, but I had to try SSH. So back to the Services tab, I enable SSH management (and disable Telnet as I’ll never use it) and click the Reboot Router button. Next, I open a terminal session and enter ssh dd-wrt. I log in with my user/pass and I’m at an ASH shell prompt. The output from a uname -r reads like Linux DDWRT 2.4.34-pre2 #170 Fri Sep 15 20:10:21 CEST 2006 mips unknown. Pretty sexy :)

All in all it was a satisfying experience. I’m running Linux on my router and there’s a LOT of cool things I can do. I haven’t scratched the surface yet, I’ll be exploring options for a while and when I come across something sweet I’ll post about it here. If you’re at all interested in exploring DD-WRT, start by checking out the compatibility list and reading up on the features. The wiki is a great place to start. I had no trouble ordering a 100% compatible router for around $55.00 US (there was a rebate).

If you’re new to Linux and don’t want to have to manage your router from a command shell, no worries. The web configuration pages are extremely useful and cover the full configuration of the router in a point and click fashion. You just can’t go wrong :)

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