Leadership

Video: Give your old Wi-Fi router new life with open source firmware

In this Insider Secrets video from CNET.com, Tom Merritt shows you how to give an old Linksys Wi-Fi router new life by replacing it's factory firmware with an open source version--like Tomato firmware.

In this Insider Secrets video from CNET.com, Tom Merritt shows you how to give an old Linksys Wi-Fi router new life by replacing it's factory firmware with an open source version--like Tomato firmware.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

11 comments
specialfx63
specialfx63

I just recently signed up for the new ATT U-Verse service and love it. I love kissing my cable company good-bye even more. (video service only, no internet) However, the new gateway/router, a 2Wire 3800HGV-B, has several key features locked out. (ie: can't change DNS servers, or block certain users, etc) I want to use Open DNS to help keep the Wife & Kids (and my extensive home network) a bit more protected from the "baddies". Fortunately I didn't toss my Linksys WRT54 after signing up regular DSL a couple of years ago. I'll simply turn off the wireless feature in the new gateway/router, re-flash my Linksys, and assign whatever DNS servers I like. Nice.

den001
den001

How does a computer that doesn't have wi-fi connect to the internet wirelessly using the Linksys wirless router with the Tomato software????

l.riley1
l.riley1

Can you use this firmware for the WRT54GX2?

kentbronze
kentbronze

wish i seen this before i got rid of my old router

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Give and old wifi router a new life, heck, give a new wifi router a real life. :D Tommato: good introduction and basic one-up on the factory provided firmware. DD-WRT: the must have balance of functions and easy administration. OpenWRT: the industrial strength all-by-cli firmware replacement. You can't magically make the hardware more powerful but if a consumer Linksys is all the hardware you need, you can add some real functions above and beyond the factory firmware.

nix_hed
nix_hed

...but I do know with DD-WRT there are a couple of ways that you can use the router as a Wi-Fi to ethernet bridge. I actually did that for a while, but I now have the DD-WRT equipped WRT54G's on either end of my house for B and G wireless devices and a centrally located AirPort for N devices. BTW, all three firmwares are well documented in terms of features on their respective sites.

pat
pat

I have a Buffalo WHR-54G router that is still within the warranty period that lost its radio while in use. I installed DDWRT several months earlier and it worked fine until I got a call that it had stopped working. I can not find any information on how to roll the router back to default software. Is there a way to roll it back so I can send it in for repair? Thanks, Pat

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Neon - Thanks for giving everyone a basic breakdown on the different firmware options.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With the linksys, I actually just grabbed the official firmware .bin and installed it through the admin update form. Your router may also have a "wait on boot" function where it pauses looking for a tftp connection before loading the firmware. You'd have to run a web search for your specific router details. Probably something like; set your workstation static ip to the defaults to match the router's default IP, watch the router IP with pings while you plug it in, tftp upload the firmware image, router reboots again and loads the new firmware if all goes well. With the linksys, it is about three to ten seconds right after power on. It will respond to pings and you can tftp your firmware image in then. I believe it will stop responding to pings when it starts to load the firmware. It's been a while since I broke a router bad enough to do a tftp reflash on it.

ameliajamison
ameliajamison

I had been contemplating buying a new router. My current Linksys router has to be 5 or 6 years old. Thanks for saving me some money!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's one of the topics I keep coming back too so it was worth sharing.

Editor's Picks