Help me choose new firmware.
July 4, 2007 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me decide between DD-WRT and OpenWrt (and others) for my new Linksys Router.

Just got a new Linksys WRT54GL and am trying to decide between the above firmware upgrades (in addition to possibly HyperWRT Thibor or Sveasoft). I'm interested in anything you have to say (pros, cons, personal experience, etc.), specifically with the most/more recent versions of the upgrades.

If it matters, I dual-boot Ubuntu and WinXP on an older Dell Inspiron (not worried about the other computers on the network). Also, my ISP is Road Runner through Time Warner, in southern California. Thanks in advance, and happy Fourth!
posted by homer2k1 to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any plans at all for what to do with it? If you don't have any special requirements you might as well just use the stock firmware!

If you're just trying to tweak a few extra settings, hyperwrt works great and is probably the easiest (that's what I'm using to turn up the power, and turn on and configure WDS).

I would recommend against Sveasoft. Though linux is open source they try hard to pretend it's not and it ends up being inconvenient, and if you care about the ethics of open source software, questionable ethically.
posted by aubilenon at 10:43 AM on July 4, 2007

Yeah, if you don't have any special requirements, just leave the stock firmware on there. I run DD-WRT, and it has lots of fun settings to play with, but I don't need 95% of them for my home network.
posted by bizwank at 10:48 AM on July 4, 2007

I have that exact router with DD-WRT. I haven't compared it against any other 3p firmware, but I do think DD-WRT is awesome. Very configurable, and since I ditched the factory firmware, I haven't had to reboot once in several months.
posted by Brian James at 10:48 AM on July 4, 2007

Thanks for the quick responses. My main reason for upgrading the firmware is to play with it :) I'm interested in tinkering with QoS (for VoIP, specifically), transmission power, and setting up remote access to my network.

I had kinda already decided against Sveasoft for those reasons, but I thought I would mention it just in case.
posted by homer2k1 at 11:04 AM on July 4, 2007

I really like Tomato. It's a bit more complex than HyperWRT but it provides a lot more information in a more intuitive (and shiny!) interface. It's also got a pretty in depth QoS interface, with a high degree of granularity that you might enjoy playing with.
posted by tracert at 11:17 AM on July 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm using HyperWRT as well (mainly for WDS) and it's been working great - I set it up once and it's been working perfectly ever since. If you want to tinker, you'll probably want a more elaborate firmware like DD-WRT or tomato.
posted by pocams at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2007

Seconding Tomato. I moved there from DD-WRT and it's great -- things are right where you expect them to be and they all work, and the ajax-y real time bandwidth graphs have been useful a few times already.
posted by mendel at 11:23 AM on July 4, 2007

OpenWRT is a difficult beastie. DD-WRT has a lot of the same options exposed through a web GUI, but it pretty much runs off the default. DD-WRT comes in a bunch of pre-rolled configurations, where the "mini" versions leave out a lot (to fit into smaller memories). There is even an "auto-leech" DD-WRT that will scan for open APs and connect to them. It's brilliant.

The key option is to be able to jack up your transmit power, especially if you have a bunch of closeby transmitters or a microwave.
posted by meehawl at 11:29 AM on July 4, 2007

I used DD-WRT with my v3 54G. Works splendidly. I use the built-in QoS service to maintain good responsiveness for normal web browsing while keeping my downloading machine's pipeline full.

I also use the built-in DNSMasq and can navigate around from my different machines without any trouble. IPs are leased by MAC address--don't know if you can do that with the stock firmware.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2007

I've been using 3rd party firmware on my WRT54G routers for a couple of years, mainly for WDS. I started with Sveasoft, ditched them as they became increacingly sleazy, and then tried on other 3rd party firmwares. I don't remember everything I've tried, or why, but I'm currently on an older version of HyperWRT-Tofu. Probably time to think about an upgrade though.
posted by Good Brain at 11:31 AM on July 4, 2007

i've used both. dd-wrt is more userfriendly, but if you want to do some serious hacking open-wrt is better.

Open-wrt is what I use primarily, but is in the midst of a major overhaul, so they are a bit behind in the upkeep of the latest stable version, and the kamikaze (the latest and greatest) isn't quite ready for prime time, as far I as know.

If you want something that just works, and has all the neat bells and whistles, go with dd-wrt. If you want to set up some sort of wacky network topology, and odd services, and really advanced networking, go with open-wrt.
posted by Freen at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2007

I recommend against Sveasoft. There have been several accounts of the owner allegedly cyber-stalking people who disagreed with him. Cyber-stalking in the sense of making creepy threats and attempting to find their home address and phone number.

Here's one developer's account, with this email allegedly from Sveasoft's owner:

You really should do some background research on who you are fucking with. I will eventually find out exactly who you are and where you live and then we're gonna have some real fun.
posted by zippy at 11:35 AM on July 4, 2007

n-th recommendation for Tomato. I've cycled through them all and it is the best. Thibor's HyperWRT comes a close second but the pretty graphs clinch it for me.
posted by purephase at 12:19 PM on July 4, 2007

Thanks for all your comments. Right now I am leaning towards DD-WRT or Tomato (which I hadn't heard about before; thanks tracert (and others)).
posted by homer2k1 at 12:26 PM on July 4, 2007

I will third fourth Tomato. I have tried DD-WRT and Thibor's HyperWRT on ver. 3 & 4 WRT54G and a ver. 1 WRT54GL and so far Tomato has the best record for uptime and not choking on multiple concurrent connections.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 12:46 PM on July 4, 2007

X-WRT puts a much friendlier face on OpenWRT. I like it a lot, and I've tried all the other alternatives. It's especially good with newer routers that have more space. It doesn't support the latest release of OpenWRT, but that's not been a problem for me. For things like port forwarding, though, HyperWRT may be more user-friendly: it's closer to the default firmware's interface.
posted by holgate at 1:30 PM on July 4, 2007

I [also] have that exact router with DD-WRT. I [also] haven't compared it against any other 3p firmware, but I do think DD-WRT is awesome. Very configurable, and since I ditched the factory firmware, I [also] haven't had to reboot once in several months.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2007

If you're wanting to tinker and extend, I'd say X-wrt. If you want to set and forget, DD-WRT.
posted by pompomtom at 3:07 PM on July 4, 2007

OpenWRT with the X-WRT extensions. I run 3 of them, 1 I maintain remotely for my parents, 1 I travel with, 1 for home.
posted by iamabot at 3:53 PM on July 4, 2007

I've had a good experience with DD-WRT. The uptime is good, the speed is good, and the interface is really nice. Installation was a piece of cake. There's nothing about it that I don't like.
posted by benign at 5:20 PM on July 4, 2007

Tomato all the way. It is excellent. On the surface it does eveything you want very cleanly, but if you dig down there is massive functionality, right down to setting NAT timeouts for each type of TCP packet.
posted by pivotal at 8:48 PM on July 4, 2007

DD-WRT and Tomato are both for those who just want a good replacement firmware with has extra features. OpenWrt is more like a normal Linux distro, with a full package management system and lots of package repositories out there to play with lots of stuff (turn your router into a PBX? a media server? a firewall? just install a few packages) But OpenWrt's UI is currently not as slick as the others or as feature-rich out of the box.
posted by todbot at 9:01 PM on July 4, 2007

I've got a 54gl with dd-wrt, and can't complain. I've also got a 54gs with the dd-wrt micro. It seems like (with what little research I've done) the other distributions don't support the ones with smaller memory.

While looking at the tomato website, at the bottom I found a link to freeWRT, which is a GNU/Linux distribution. If you are looking for the ultimate in configurability, then this is the one I recommend. They have a web-based image builder that "lacks some options", but it still has way more choices than I've seen through ipkg or optware (which is what some of the other distro's use).
posted by philomathoholic at 9:33 PM on July 4, 2007

DD-WRT works great for me on a WRT54G. I mainly use it to boost the power. I also installed it on the recommendation of a friend that it would be better at handling massive traffic over wireless (torrents like whoa) better than the default firmware. It seems to be better at doing that. I don't have to reboot the router very frequently anymore; and, of course, the soft-reboot available in DD-WRT that wasn't on the default firmware is great too.

I don't have any experience with OpenWRT, though.
posted by liesbyomission at 2:16 AM on July 5, 2007

DD-WRT (on my Buffalo router) is more stable than any stock firmware I've ever used (Linksys and Netgear routers always seemed to need a reboot every few weeks). I don't use most of the fancy features, but one feature I like a lot is the ability to use DHCP but manually assign specific IPs to specific MAC addresses. Also, assuming you install the VPN version, the secure VPN in DD-WRT is very useful.

I don't use the QoS features in DD-WRT, but they're there if you plan to set up VoIP or something like that.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:53 AM on July 5, 2007

Thanks again everyone for your comments and suggestions. I ended up going with Tomato for now, and so far I like it a lot. Best answers to tracert for first recommendation and Dipsomaniac for comparing it to the others on a 54GL.
posted by homer2k1 at 9:05 PM on July 5, 2007

I was just taking a looking over this thread again and decided to give Tomato a shot.

Count me a convert.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:08 AM on July 12, 2007

Just in case anyone does a search and comes across this thread, I too decided to use Tomato.

I bought a new WRT54GL, tried out DDWRT version 23sp2 I think it was and it just wasn't working for me. I play WarCraft online and need very good pings, and for some reason with DDWRT and the QoS, it was still choking my connection

I installed Tomato, and so far everything works fine.
posted by althanis at 12:28 PM on July 15, 2007

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