10 March 2013

router madness

in an effort to 1) increase my wifi throughput and 2) set up a VPN server, i took the gf's old Linksys WRT54G wifi router and flashed it with ww-drt.

it was an interesting adventure, though not fruitful in the end. i was able to figure out which package to use for the router, but not by using the handy "find my firmware" tool on the site. instead, i crawled through wikis and forums to learn that that tool is out of date and could brick your router. hurrah!

i got as far as getting basic internet and wifi working, with WPA2+AES wifi security. sadly, it did not perform as well as my old Linksys WRT54G router, which still has Linksys firmware on it.

i was not able to get the PPTP VPN working. i went through many, many forum posts and wikis, trying to navigate the inconsistent, out-of-date and contradictory information. i had to call upon old unix skills to telnet into the router and update bourne shell scripts, run sed commands and the like. i took all the bits of info i could find and tried them in all the combinations i could, but still no vpn connectivity.

so i bagged that and set about trying to increase the wifi throughput. comcast internet is coming in at a zippy (for the US) 25 Mbps d/load speed, but over wifi it was 14 at best with the linksys firmware, and 10 at best with dd-wrt. i read through a number of threads about increasing wifi performance (one key parameter made available with dd-wrt is the transmit power of the radio, plus other cool stuff like assigning Tx/Rx to different antennas), but again was met with contradictory information.

each tweak i tried, guided by user recommendations, actually *decreased* performance. i got it all the way down to 3 Mbps. hurray internet!

after undoing most of the recommended tweaks, i was able to get it back up to a reliable 11 Mbps; still not as good as the stock firmware.

so in the end, i punted by putting back the router with the linksys firmware and ordering an asus RTN66U router. i'm hoping the n-band will provide wifi speeds closer to the 25 i'm getting through the modem, plus it comes with vpn capability. i'm reading that not only is the router software open-source, but its extensive configurability was based on open firmwares like dd-wrt and tomato.

now, here's hoping that the year-old threads i'm reading about the vpn issues with the asus are not indicative of an ongoing problem...

1 comment:

JustJoeP said...

I also had a Linksys WRT54G, and it worked well for 5 years in Arizona, then mysteriously Died 2 days before Christmas in 2012. My Airport Extreme is doing Very Very well.