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Ask Slashdot: Best Flash-Friendly Router To Replace Aging WRT54GS? 334

New submitter Juggler00 writes "I have been running DD-WRT (v24-sp2) on my Linksys WRT54GS for a couple of years now. I'm now finding that the box cannot keep up with the requests/requirements I have for it--it simply does not have the MIPS/horsepower. I am turning to the collective wisdom of the Slashdot community for 2 things: what alternative firmware should I be using (DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWRT, or something else?) and based on the answer to this question, what is the suggested router to purchase to flash? My software requirements include DynDNS client, DHCP server providing option 66, static IP assignment based on MAC, port forwarding, and basic QoS (bittorrent lowest priority). For hardware, I'm looking for GigE ports and 802.11N (5.8GHz not a requirement)."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Flash-Friendly Router To Replace Aging WRT54GS?

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  • Jedi? (Score:3, Funny)

    by mx+b ( 2078162 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:20PM (#38228910)

    DHCP server providing option 66

    What did the Jedi ever do to your DHCP server? That seems a bit harsh.

    • Flash (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @04:19PM (#38230772) Journal

      What did the Jedi ever do to your DHCP server? That seems a bit harsh.

      Furthermore, everyone knows Flash is on the way out. I'd skip the Flash-Friendly routers and go straight to an HTML5-Friendly router.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:21PM (#38228946) Journal

    This is at least the second, if not the third Ask Slashdot on this subject in the last few months.

    I'll make the same recommendation as before: Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH.

    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:22PM (#38228968) Journal

      Also, on firmware: OpenWRT if you want to do something really fancy or unusual, DD-WRT if you just want a feature/reliability improvement.

      • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:45PM (#38230274) Homepage Journal

        DD-WRT if you just want a feature/reliability improvement.

        I don't know about that. At least from the view of official builds, DD-WRT has stagnated. The last official release was more than three years ago and the last pre-SP2 release was more than two years ago.

        Even the unofficial builds aren't much of an improvement to me. I was using a couple of different builds to get IPv6 functionality and while it worked, I had problems with odd setting resets or services just stopping for no clear reason. Ultimately, I decided to just go with a new DLink router because it provided the functionality that I wanted and pretty much Just Worked. No messing with scripts, no tinkering with poorly-documented settings. It just worked like it was supposed to. (Well, mostly. There's an issue where .11n connectivity breaks, but .11g still works, but that's far less irritating as there's an effective fallback that works.)

        I understand the desire to have control over the firmware, as I ran OpenWRT or DD-WRT for several years. I'm also not averse to installing things of questionable stability, as I use Fedora for most of my Linux stations. I enjoyed what I was doing for a while and I learned some things on how the services worked, but it became more of a distraction where I was spending time fixing issues instead of learning other things.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:26PM (#38229024)

      Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo //off-topic, but relevant

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:31PM (#38229128)

      I'll make the same recommendation as before: Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH.

      I would no longer make that recommendation. Buffalo has silently started shipping WZR-HP-G300NH2 (version 2) models in the old WZR-HP-G300NH boxes. The G300NH2 models have a different Atheros wireless chip which does not work fine under DD-WRT, and hence with its own custom Buffalo firmware. The end result is constant wireless drop outs (BSSID is broadcasting, client shows as connected, but packets go into la-la land). I have tried two different G300NH2 routers and both have the same issue. Buffalo forum is filled with posts about this issue, and what makes it worse, is that Buffalo U.S.A Tech support has no knowledge of this router (version 2) existing, and say that product is only supported in ASIA. DD-WRT firmwares also can't be flashed into this router as it will brick them.

      Disclaimer: I too have a WRT54G(L) router that needs replacement and have already began researching. Going to try Cisco Small Business WRVS4400N-RF due to the number of features it seems to have.

      • Good point, OpenWRT is adding support, you can build a prerelease version for it right now. I see people in the DD-WRT forums saying they've flashed their v2s but I can't find a binary for it.

      • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:49PM (#38229404)

        I'm glad I bought mine a year ago, then... even if it did take me some time to figure out why my wireless network would randomly shut off.

        Apparently the router will shut off its wireless antennas if it determines another router on a different network is broadcasting on the same channel... and the neighbors were *just* close enough and conditions would be *just* right for that to happen every few days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xyverz ( 144945 )

        I have the WRVS4400N-RF ... and my experience is very very mixed with this device. I have to reboot it at least once a month, and configuring it via the web interface isn't as easy as using Cisco IOS' CLI. It also only does 2.4ghz N, so if you want the 5ghz speeds, you'll need either a seperate AP or router running in AP mode. (I actually have a WRT610N in AP mode for my 5ghz needs.)

        Just my 2c worth.

    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      Is the WZR-HP-G300NH substantially different from the WZR-HP-G300N? I've used several of the latter and while they all seem to work OK (given the correct build of DD-WRT), there are still hardware functions which don't seem to play right (VLAN, for instance).

    • by ( 6530 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:44PM (#38229330)

      is still top of the charts in most regards at smallnetbuilder at reasonable price point and open-firmware compatible

      n750 is a bit faster but way more $$. now someone find me one with good external antenna connectors!

      • by loxosceles ( 580563 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:12PM (#38229762)

        wndr3700 or 3800.

        They are atheros based, so there's the issue of occasional wireless drop-outs that may be fixed in openwrt snapshots (check svn changelog for late November '11), but that's a lot better than the wndr4500 and other broadcom SOC devices that are proprietary and difficult to reverse engineer.

        Also, the wndr3700 is hard to brick, and easy to tftp to. There are similar atheros-based devices like the buffalo wzr-hp-g300nh (2.4GHz-only) and ag300nh (2.4 + 5 GHz), but they're harder to flash and maybe have quality control problems on transmit power (some people complain).

        • by loxosceles ( 580563 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:39PM (#38230198)

          Oops, the dual band buffalo is wzr-hp-ag300h, not -nh.

          Netgear wndr3700v1: 8MB flash, 64MB ram
          Netgear wndr3700v2: 16MB flash, 64MB ram
          Netgear wndr3800: 16MB flash, 128MB ram
          Buffalo wzr-hp-g300nh: 32MB flash, 64MB ram (more chance of a lemon than the netgear wndr series)
          Buffalo wzr-hp-ag300h: 32MB flash, 128MB ram

          Netgear wndr4000: 8MB flash 64MB ram (BCM4718 ?)
          Netgear wndr4500: 128MB flash 128MB ram (BCM4706 ?)
          Linksys/Cisco e3000: 8MB flash 64MB ram (BCM4718 ?)
          Linksys/Cisco e4200: 16MB flash 64MB ram (BCM4718 ?)

          The ciscos from what I've read are very picky about nvram size.

    • With all of these requests and demand you would think someone would sit down and figure out a good set of hardware for this and build specifically for it - completely open and supported! I too have a WRT54G that needs replacing and spotted a cheap dual radio Linksys on BlackFirday sale for $70 that I ordered when I noted the comments stated it worked well with OpenWRT. That will be an interim solution at best.

      Honestly I'd even build an Atom PC or something like it to best support this if I could find a dist

      • There are a decent number of models aimed specifically at firmware modders who want high-end hardware, the demand isn't going unnoticed.

    • by skids ( 119237 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:07PM (#38229706) Homepage

      Seconded. Bought one for home. Liked it so much, I had work buy one for a terminal server (via USB hub/dongles.) Running OpenWRT. DHCP, iptables, tc, iproute2, ipset, freeradius, strongswan, perl, all available as precompiled packages. Minus getting oriented on the hardware and with a bit of the config file layout, was easy to configure to do everything my old laptop-based router did, while drawing 1/5th the power and making no noise whatsoever.

    • I have not yet had a really good reason to switch away from my WRT54GS routers yet. One day there will be a compelling reason to do so. When that day comes I want to hear about it on slashdot.

    • by harl ( 84412 )
      Why or link to previous posts please.
  • Buffalo (Score:5, Informative)

    by zbobet2012 ( 1025836 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:22PM (#38228960)
    The buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH [] meets all of these requirements and ships with DD-WRT. However, as the last, very recent thread mentioned DD-WRT is not well maintained anymore. Your best bets are either TomatoUSB [] or straightforward OpenWRT. I prefer openwrt because it allows simple configuration of hardware taged vlans.
    • I just put Tomato on my v1.0 WRT54G router and it breathed new life into it. I had previously been running DDWRT. I'm not sure if the submitter can do "option 66" with Tomato but it has everything else.

    • I've got the WHR-HP-G300N with DD-WRT, and yeah, support has been kind of nonexistent in the last year. That's always been the problem with DD-WRT though, it's kind of half-assed, presumably to create a market for the Pro edition. QoS is still very hit-or-miss.

    • I recommend Gargoyle Firmware. It's based on OpenWRT.
  • I've found it to be very useful since it runs DD-WRT already and has many of the features you mentioned.

    It's a bit on the pricey side but I didn't want to do Linksys again after they've locked their routers.

  • Netgear WNDR-3700 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:26PM (#38229020)

    Or its newer variants. Loaded with OpenWRT, there's nothing you can't do with them. Newer variants have even more flash and RAM.

    • by noahm ( 4459 )

      Seconded. I've got WNDR3700 and I love it. I'm running a custom build of OpenWRT that has all the following built in to the squashfs image:

      • ISC DHCPD
      • ISC bind9, including slaving some authoritative zones from my master
      • racoon for ipsec
      • xinetd running munin-lite for metric graphing
      • radvd for IPv6 router advertizement

      It's really pretty impressive what you can pack in this thing. Note that I save a bunch of space by not including the web interface at all.

    • by ( 6530 )


    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      But if you get the WNDR-4000, first thing you do is update the firmware. The one I got kept toggling the wireless on and off until it snagged a patch. Pretty sure it will phone home the first time you plug it in, but check manually to see.

      I don't know about other models, but this one has gotten some bad customer reviews, and NetGear are proactively responding and trying to get those reviewers to update their comments now that things are working cleaner.

      Of course, if your goal is to go open-source, none of

    • Re:Netgear WNDR-3700 (Score:4, Informative)

      by manaway ( 53637 ) * on Thursday December 01, 2011 @04:11PM (#38230666)

      Or its newer variants. Loaded with OpenWRT, there's nothing you can't do with them. Newer variants have even more flash and RAM.

      Except (some of?) the newer variants, particularly the Netgear WNDR-3700 version 3 with the Broadcom chipset, do not run OpenWRT []. Yet.

  • Look at TomatoUSB (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:27PM (#38229050) Homepage
    I've been a long-time DD-WRT user, but its development seemed to stagnate. I recently put TomatoUSB on my Linksys WRT160N v1, and it is working wonderfully. The interface is much nicer, and exposes more QoS and bandwidth management features which I've found useful. Check out the TomatoUSB [] website for a list of routers it supports.
  • Sorry, which activity is CPU bound here?

    • Um, all of the routing? You know, the stuff that a router does?

      • by ( 6530 )

        tack onto just general routing ANY QOS stuff, or say a VPN server, or SSH tunneling and my wrt54gs ground to a halt.
        i have a wndr3700 now and it flies and does everything i want with dd-wrt/open-wrt on it

      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        That may actually be done in hardware. And shouldn't be much of the router's processing. I mean, just how many routes are you trying to resolve in a second, anyway?

        • The only thing done in hardware is generally the LAN switching. All bridging to/from WIFI and all traffic to/from the Internet (WAN port) is via a software path. The technology exists so it could be done in hardware, it just isn't necessary because the software path is fast enough.
      • So the CPU can't keep up with routing? Really? (As in, evidence please?)

        • As mentioned earlier, things like caching DNS server, QoS, and IPsec are generally done in software, as are things like making USB-connected external drives available as network storage. Often bridging between wired and wireless is done in software as well--my wndr3700 is way, way faster connecting between my wired and wireless networks than my old D-Link was.

  • ASUS RT-16N / DD-WRT (Score:5, Informative)

    by jipis ( 677451 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:27PM (#38229056)
    I recently put an RT-16N in service in my office running DD-WRT. As the the Internet sez, the stock firmwire is crap, but this thing flies while running DD-WRT.
    • This is what I run at home, and it works awesome (although I use Tomato).

      Also supports sharing an NTFS or NFS drive to the network via a USB2.0 port.

    • I'm going second this recommendation. I've got an RT-16N and it's a pleasure to work with. Between the USB ports, the decent amount of RAM and flash... and the peppy CPU... It's more than one should expect for the price.

      • by blackC0pter ( 1013737 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:17PM (#38229844)
        3rd for this router. I'm using this as a router + qos + asterisk box for the in-laws. I set them up to have all IP phones connecting to this router and then the router registering with vitelity for phone service. Great setup and saves them a lot of money compared to the bells. The router has 128MB of ram and 32MB of flash so it is one of the most powerful and has the most space for adding stuff than most other routers. I also setup a vpn connection to my house and some custom routing so I can directly access their internal subnet from my computers and diagnose if necessary.

        Router is flashed with tomato and then loaded with Optware in order to install asterisk and other addons. Here are some steps to get this done. One side item, the guide for optware has you install it on an external USB drive. But I installed it directly on the /jffs partition so you don't need to add a usb drive. The router has plenty of space to add data to it so I just used this. Also, if you want to do any custom linux commands in tomato, the root os doesn't preserve state after reboot. So be sure to put all the commands you want run in the web gui under administration->scripts. Custom routing commands will need to go there since tomato is limited in the custom routing you can do with the gui (no interface routing? bah)
        --Install tomato: []
        --Install optware: []
    • It is also compatible with Tomato/TomatoUSB. The Asus RT-N16 is a monster with 128 MB RAM and 32 MB flash. That's overkill for most people, but hardcore dorks need that extra RAM and flash for their Optware packages. But OpenVPN works awesomely with TomatoUSB and the Asus RT-N16. If you don't need dozens of concurrent connections, it will probably do the trick for most small businesses.

    • Had a Asus RT-16n with Tomato for over a year with only power outages for downtime.
      Like the other poster said, go to [] for all the latest info.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Get a second power supply though (12V 2A works well) as the standard supply burns out when (I suppose this is the cause) attaching USB devices.

    • by MoFoQ ( 584566 )

      u mean the RT-N16?

      I have several of them (using DD-WRT and one I use to experiment with debwrt [derivative of openwrt]).
      And I just got another one during the Newegg Black Friday sale.

  • I finally landed on the Netgear WNDR3700-v2, a nice dual-band atheros box. Got two of them for wireless bridging.

    So far I've flashed DD-WRT and OpenWRT without any trouble at all. Though I've historically used WW-DRT and Tomato I'm still torn on which will be permanent. Tomato isn't an option with these due to them not being Broadcom based. I'm leaning strongly to OpenWRT as it seems to be the most mature and flexible of the two.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:29PM (#38229104)

    Personally I have become a fan of the Asus RT-N16. VERY fast, TONS of RAM, USB ports for expansion, runs TomatoUSB and DD-WRT. These have been dead on reliable so far (I have one personally, and we use 4 for remote offices at work). The only negative I can say is that the LED's are extremely bright. You won't need a night-light in your living room with one of these, that's for sure.

    • Know what you mean about the LEDs.
      Had to put tape over them, at night, could see them lighting up the den down the hall.

  • by matty619 ( 630957 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:33PM (#38229160)

    Like an Alix Board [] and run pfSense on it, with the available packages, there are likely few network related tasks you'll find that pfSense 2.0 on Alix hardware cannot handle. You can also put in whatever wireless card you want, but I prefer to run a dedicated AP. Used Cisco Aironets can be found on Ebay for under $100 and are rock solid.

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:33PM (#38229172)

    Just go to eBay and buy some used enterprise equipment dirt cheap. Cisco 2600 (2611 or 2621) or 2800 series routers will do what you want and have the horse power and code base for your needs. There are some good bargains to be had.

    I guess they probably won't support DynDNS, but everything else should be covered.

    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      send me a message, I've got about fourty 2651XMs in the storage room I need to get rid of, I'll give you a good deal.
  • Linksys E3000 (Score:3, Informative)

    by chis101 ( 754167 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:33PM (#38229178)
    I've been very happy with TomatoUSB on the E3000. Only $60 refurb, or $70 new from NewEgg ( [] ). Simultaneous 2.4/5GHZ g/n, USB port for NAS/Printer, 64MB RAM, gigabit switch. Only has 8MB flash though, if you were planning on storing lots of programs on it (you would want to put those on a USB flash drive anyway, so I don't think internal flash really matters)
  • Up till recently I would have recommended PacketProtector [], which has a lot of useful features including Snort, DansGuardian, and ClamAV integration. But both because OpenWRT, which it was based on, has lagged in hardware support and because the main developer's work and Masters are eating up all his time, it's kind of stagnated. If one or two people were to pick up some of the slack it could again be a fantastic solution.

  • by funkboy ( 71672 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:43PM (#38229322) Homepage

    1: go read smallnetbuilder [] and decide for yourself.

    2: Mikrotik [] probably has something you'd be happy with for not a lot of money.

  • You could always set the WRT54GS as a wireless bridge and use pfSense 2.0 on the backend for all of the firewall, DHCP, QoS, RADIUS, etc.

    You won't be upgrading to 802.11n support or GigE on the wireless end, but you could certainly use an old PC with GigE NICs in pfSense on the backend.

    I currently have an old Dell Dimension 2400 configured with pfsense 2.0 and two WRT54G v.2.2 APs with Tomato in bridged mode and have no performance complaints (other than maybe the 54Mbps limitation of the actual AP)

  • WNR3500L

    I put Tomato (by far the best firmware for a router ever made) on it, and it works like a charm. They can be found pretty easily on eBay and other places for $40 to $70.

  • I have been using linksys E3000/E2000 routers, but recently I have switched to TP-LINK, they are Atheros based and take the usual custom firmwares (DDWRT etc). They are much cheaper than the other brands, the high end model is only $55 (Newegg even had them for less over the weekend) and works much better than my Linksys WRT400n/E3000/E2000 ever did.
  • by s4nt ( 613785 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @02:47PM (#38229368) Homepage

    Meets all requirements from the OP.
    runs openwrt and dd-wrt
    4x gigE
    wireless N (no 5GHZ tough)
    USB port
    CPU Atheros AR9132@400MHz
    RAM 32MB
    FLASH 8MB [] []

  • I've been running various routers (Linksys, Asus) under DD-WRT or Tomato, but I'm finally just going to bite the bullet, and build a Mini-ITX machine with a flash drive and a wireless AP card. Then I can install a full pop Linux install without all the oddities I've experienced under DD-WRT and its cousins and derivatives. The worst one was a Tomato router that was supposed to run two segregated subnets with one subnet having full access to the other, but not visa-versa, but the iptables script would be ove

  • Rock solid combo that I use:
    Cisco E4200 refurb for $99: []

    Shibby's Tomato build (use AIO for most complete featureset): []

    Do not use DD-WRT with this router as it's a mess (been there done that.)

  • whats wrong with x86? just build a cheap x86 box and add whatever components you want. you could even throw untangle [] on something. i'm sure you've got an old pc sitting around somewhere, or someone has one you can have.
  • by Wingsy ( 761354 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:14PM (#38229774)
    I've used several routers in the recent past, and every single one of them would bog down to around 100-300kbps when I had a couple hundred peers connected in a torrent. Then I got an Apple Airport Extreme and now I get my full bandwidth of 15mbps with the same load. That sold me.
    • I have an Airport Extreme (Generation 3) which is supposed to have Gigabit ethernet ports but they never worked - they always connected at 100mbps. I tried everything I could think of - updated firmware, changed network card, changed to Cat6 cable to no avail.

      I just got Comcast Digital Voice service which comes with a required SMC cable modem with a built Gigabit router. Plugged it in and gigabit ethernet suddenly worked - it was literally plug and play.

      (I have a big Cisco gigabit switch in the basement, so

  • by sco_robinso ( 749990 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @03:51PM (#38230366)
    If you have an old PC sitting around, why not use one of the excellent software-based routers out there? pfsense is one of the most popular (given it's BSD based), there's also IPCop, ClarkCounty, etc. There's even some free commercial options like Astaro, who's home-license only limits you to 50 internal IPs (plenty for most people, even by today's standards).

    I use Astaro, and used to use pfsense. You get all of the features of a high end enterprise router, basically for free. The only obvious limitation is no built-in wireless, so you just hang an AP off an interface. Astaro offers their software as a VM appliance as well, so then you virtualize it if you so chose (as I do on ESXi 5).

    I've used DD-WRT quite a bit, and I'd still personally prefer Astaro or pfsense.
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @04:07PM (#38230598)

    Can someone explain why ADSL (and for that matter PPPoA) support in F/OSS firmware tends to be so patchy?

  • I replaced my old wrt54g and buffalo routers with two of these and flashed with dd-wrt. Can be had for around $30.00 on ebay. Gig ports, N wi-fi. Way more ram for connection tracking than the wrt. Make sure you get the version 2 model. Version 1 will not flash.

  • After all these years, I still consider the WRT54GL to be the best wireless router for home use. I don't know if that's impressive or sad.

    Consider giving Tomato a spin for firmware. Very user friendly, especially for slightly advanced uses like bridging.

  • by nickovs ( 115935 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @06:15PM (#38232064)

    While it's a bit more targeted at the "server" market rather than "router" market, the DreamPlug [] does all that you want. It has dual gigabit ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n, a 1.2GHz ARM processor (with a decent crypto co-processor that can handle full duplex gigabit VPN encryption), USB2 and eSATA ports for adding discs, an external SD card port and 4GB of flash inside for the FS. It even has both analogue and SP/DIF audio out in case you want to stream music into your server cupboard. It's very low power too (typically about 10 watts).

  • Routerboard (Score:3, Informative)

    by weegiekev ( 925942 ) on Thursday December 01, 2011 @07:40PM (#38232814)
    I've used Mikrotik Routerboards for years and have been very happy with them. They're very flexible, relatively cheap, and I've not had any issues with reliability. I don't think they run anything like DD-WRT, but their supplied OS is very powerful. Has ssh login for admin and a Cisco IOS like interface.

    The following RB435G [] should fit your needs:

    3 x GigE ports
    3 x miniPCI slots for wireless (R52nM for 802.11n)
    DynDNS Updates: [Yes] []
    DHCP Sever with Option 66: [Yes] []
    Static IP based on MAC: [Yes] []
    Port forwarding: [Yes] []
    QoS support: [Yes] []

May all your PUSHes be POPped.