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Old 11-21-2008, 11:17 PM   #1
Registered: Jun 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Distribution: Debian (squeeze), kernel 2.6.30-2-amd64
Posts: 32

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Any Suggestions for a New Router?

Hello all,

I've been using a PC with a 1GHz Celeron and 256Mb of memory running lenny as a router for my home network. I have it connected to a hub, which provides network access for four other machines and a wireless access point.

However, the router machine has been acting up lately (freezing and forcing a hard reboot). So I'm thinking I could dink around with the machine, perhaps do a fresh install, but on the other hand I'd really like to have a small diskless device to play that role. Something that runs linux and will allow me to run iptables and the like.

I've read about how you can overwrite the firmware on some wireless routers with linux distributions (e.g.,, but I'm not so sure I want my router to be wireless, I like having a solid wired connection for that.

In that regard, I thought this looked interesting:

But I'm a little unclear on how I would connect this device to a VGA monitor.

At the same website they have this:

This looks more PC-like, but also has a higher increase to go along with it. I could get a daughterboard that has an ethernet port, so it could easily replace my current router. Does anybody have any feelings about the motherboard options they offer?

So I'm all ears for any suggestions anybody may have. Thanks!

Last edited by ludwig; 11-21-2008 at 11:20 PM. Reason: Malformed URL
Old 11-21-2008, 11:35 PM   #2
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Registered: May 2008
Location: planet earth
Distribution: Debian
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For the hackable routers, you can always - well, hack it. You can disable wireless operation and in fact pull out the wireless card (put it in an antistatic bag); the card is usually a "miniPCI" type and you can use it elsewhere. I'm not sure of all the details of what you want to do, but to me this sounds like a good idea because the routers are often substantially cheaper than buying odd bits and pieces in single quantities.

I can't comment on the Alix2D2 without reading through the manual; the info page doesn't mention a display connector so there may in fact be none (or there may be a 'header' which you need to build an adapter cable for). The Geode LX800 is still overkill for what you're asking for, but that just gives you more options for what to do with the machine in the future.

Be *very* careful piecing together that MB300 - note that there are multiple options for what actually goes into the box, and if you don't choose carefully you have incompatible bits and pieces (for example, only the Jetway boards seem to have expansion modules). That is quite a capable MoBo and a nice enclosure; you can whack in disks and run your own fileserver/webserver/whatever. Also watch the price rocket as you add things on.

You may want to search the web for reputable retailers of embedded boards created specifically as a base for routers - but as I said before, in small quantities it's really hard to beat the off-shelf hackable routers.
Old 11-22-2008, 11:31 AM   #3
Registered: Jul 2006
Distribution: Debian Testing
Posts: 299

Rep: Reputation: 30
I use an unofficial firmware myself, (X-wrt), very nice, stable and a good feature set. I have to admit I don't need it but its still a very nice system, I recently discovered it has port knocking too (but no GUI) if you install the knockd package and edit /etc/knockd.conf so I'm considering adding a VPN server (again sadly no GUI, just one for VPN clients) and actually takeing advantage of the fact I have all this flexibility.

I did consider building my own board but it was simpler just to get a standard router and flash a new firmware on it.

Last edited by Tortanick; 11-22-2008 at 11:32 AM.
Old 11-22-2008, 05:21 PM   #4
Registered: Jun 2002
Location: Orange County, CA
Distribution: Debian (squeeze), kernel 2.6.30-2-amd64
Posts: 32

Original Poster
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Thanks a lot for the input you all have provided so far, it's been very helpful. Since I'm looking for basic router facilities that will allow me to run iptables (and perhaps some other services as well), I don't really need a full-blown machine. Thus the idea of flashing an open-source firmware to a stock router is very appealing on many levels (especially price!!).

After much reading, I've been led to two routers in particular: the Netgear WGR614L and the Linksys WRT54GL. They both have 4MB of flash and 16MB of RAM. From what I've read, both devices will support OpenWrt, Tomato and DD-WRT. If I get either of these routers, I plan on using it as a wired router, I really don't need the wireless facility. It's just that these devices seem very open to flashing with linux firmware that will give me the software support I want. I see the stock Linksys web interface will let you disable the wireless functionality, but would I have that option with either device once it's flashed with open-source firmware? Also, once you flash the router, how do you typically manipulate it? Using ssh or something like that?

Finally, if anybody has preferences regarding the Linksys over the Netgear (or vice versa) I'm open to suggestions. Thanks very much!
Old 11-22-2008, 06:07 PM   #5
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Registered: Jun 2008
Distribution: debian, ubuntu, sidux
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I like the alix boards, low power, lots of options, I use one for my router. I use it for routing, vpn, traffic shaping, a voip server, and an http proxy. I ran the console out the serial port during install but haven't needed it since, when I need to work on it I just ssh in. A couple of the alix boards have a vga output on them and multiple ethernet ports is also an option. I went with just one ethernet port and vlans to separate the traffic.

I'm using an alix.3C1

Last edited by estabroo; 11-22-2008 at 06:37 PM. Reason: board model


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