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Playing with DD-WRT

Posted 07-18-2010 at 10:35 PM by damgar

I've always wanted to play with DD-WRT since I became aware of it's existence. For anyone that doesn't know, it's essentially an embedded linux that you load as firmware on consumer routers. It's not compatible with every model, but the older linksys wrt54g's (the blue and black one's with external antennas) work well for the most part from what I can tell. I happened to come across one a few months ago, and every so often I would see some neat tutorial in the LXer forum, but yesterday I saw that it's possible to load the DD-WRT firmware and turn an old unused router into a linux based VPN access server. That was something I couldn't resist.

I stumbled through the firmware upgrade, being a little nervous of bricking my toy, but I was able to just use the Linksys GUI to do the first upgrade, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the DD-WRT interface not only provides more features than the Linksys software but is a lot prettier IMHO. Some of the features that I really like are, overclocking, and transmission power levels being adjustable which means that I now have better signal outside with a free router than I did in my living room with a brand new $60 version. There's also iptables for firewalling, and in the vpn version that I used, there's even 2 different VPN servers/clients built right in. Just to make things a little cooler, there is ssh and telnet access in addition to the gui with the ash shell. A linux user feels right at home in the file structure.
DD-WRT v24-sp2 vpn (c) 2009 NewMedia-NET GmbH
Release: 10/10/09 (SVN revision: 13064)

DD-WRT login: root
 ____  ___    __        ______ _____         ____  _  _ 
 | _ \| _ \   \ \      / /  _ \_   _| __   _|___ \| || | 
 || | || ||____\ \ /\ / /| |_) || |   \ \ / / __) | || |_ 
 ||_| ||_||_____\ V  V / |  _ < | |    \ V / / __/|__   _| 
 |___/|___/      \_/\_/  |_| \_\|_|     \_/ |_____|  |_| 
                       DD-WRT v24-sp2

BusyBox v1.13.4 (2009-10-10 01:39:56 CEST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

root@DD-WRT:~# ls /
bin   dev   etc   jffs  lib   mmc   mnt   opt   proc  sbin  sys   tmp   usr   var   www
It's taken me a day of following tutorials and screwing things up before I finally managed a successful VPN session through the OpenVPN server via my neighbor's wifi (Thank you Mr. Jones ) I still have to figure some things out like why I'm not getting dhcp addresses from my VPN server. I'll no doubt learn quite a bit more about linux networking. All in all if there's anyone with an old router laying around, or just wanting to get more out of the one they have, I can fully recommend DD-WRT. It really is a fantastic project!
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