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Considering installing DD-WRT.com on my Linksys.  More headache than it's worth?

Posted on 2008-10-03
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Last Modified: 2013-12-27
An EE respondent sent me a link to a firmware product that looks very cool: http://www.dd-wrt.com/dd-wrtv3/.  Looking at the site, it appears that I could do much more with my Linksys router with the DD-WRT firmware installed than I could with the current Linksys firmware.  (According to the website, DD-WRT is compatible with my WRT54G Linksys.)  Here's the question: is the DD-WRT more headache than it's worth?  Does it throw a lot of errors, and are there lots of nuances in the web GUI that take hours or days to figure out?  Or, is it a pretty robust and straight-forward product?  (I'm happy to deal with some headache because it looks so cool, but not a lot.)
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Question by:jdana
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by:that1guy15
that1guy15 earned 50 total points
ID: 22638254
Na its pretty solid and runs smooth from what ive used. Administration is pretty straight forward and just takes a little getting used to. Go through the admin docs on it and you will be fine.
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Pugglewuggle earned 100 total points
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From my experience, 3rd party router firmwares do add extra features but they rarely all run as intended. Linksys router firmware (for newer models anyways) is actually a cut-down micro-kernel of Linux designed specifically to run embedded on the device.
In the past, 3rd party firmware had been more stable than the firmware from the manufacturer (crazy, huh?). Well, this is no longer the case - they've gotten there act together. Manufacturer firmware from Linksys is now very stable (as it has gone through hundreds of revisions over the years - at one point a new firmware upgrade was coming out every week or two).
I don't recommend it unless you just want to do it for fun. It's more trouble than it's worth and if you care about your warranty you shouldn't try it. Installing 3rd party firmware voids your warranty.
Cheers! I hope that helps!
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by:valheru_m
valheru_m earned 100 total points
ID: 22638567
I've used many different flavors of 3rd party firmware on various linksys routers, and by far the most straightforward is DD-WRT.  Very first thing I do when I unbox a new linksys router is install DD-WRT or OpenWRT.  Be warned though, OpenWRT is not for the faint of heart.

I've found DD-WRT to be very stable as long as you dont play with options that you dont understand, and it adds a LARGE number of really cool features that simply aren't available with stock firmware.  For example, I have several sites running site-to-site VPN using nothing more than these little bad boys.  Not bad for a $60 investment.  :)

Yes it will void your warranty, but I can't even begin to count how many of these little routers I've bought and configured for various uses at various client sites and I have yet to brick one.  Besides, at $60 a pop, even if you do wreck one, what's $60 in todays business environment?  That's less than 1/2 hour of my billable labor, and to add functionality that is only available in other hardware costing $500 to $1000 or more, it's small potatoes.
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by:Pugglewuggle
ID: 22638610
As I said, you can configure many new features that aren't in the manufacturer firmware - but if you're using it for a home router then it's probably best to leave it as-is (unless you want to play - like I said before).
Regarding the use for business purposes such as site-to-site VPN - in my opinion, and any networking professional's for that matter, these devices should not be used. It is better to invest a bit on business-class equipment that is stable and proven than it is to take a risk on this stuff.
Just my thoughts.
Cheers!
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by:valheru_m
ID: 22638729
I happen to be a network professional, thank you very much. While SOME network professionals might agree with you (including myself if we're talking about enterprise-class environments), there are many small businesses with small budgets and small needs where these features come in handy.  I service many businesses like this, and after explaining the risks involved (voided warranty an no commercial support), many have asked me to go ahead and implement a solution using these routers and 3rd party firmware.  

Having done so for several of my clients, I can say from experience that when setup properly these routers do an awesome job for these tasks.

You have to find the right tool for the job, and not everyone has the budget for Cisco gear.
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by:Pugglewuggle
ID: 22638794
Woah there... not picking on you...
I agree that Cisco stuff is very pricey, but there are other solutions that (like Netgear VPN devices) are not nearly as expensive and get the job done...
All I'm saying is that it is generally considered a no-no to use hacked hardware (that IS what this is) in a business environment, or any environment that could impact any critical services if it failed... not to mention the voided warranty and being stuck with an unsupported brick if anything happened.
In almost all cases as such, it would be better to implement a small-business class solution like Netgear instead of hacked devices if the budget is not there for better equipment.
Again, just my thoughts.
Cheers!
 
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by:valheru_m
ID: 22638932
I completely agree with you that this kind of thing shouldn't be used where mission critical services might depend on it, nor would I implement this kind of a solution in such an environment.  Let me give you a scenario where I deem this to be appropriate.

One of my clients has a very small remote office, and before they contracted me to optimize their environment, whenever the remote office needed to access a file on the main server, usually a 1 - 2mb pdf, they would actually have someone at the main office email it to them so that they could work on it and then email it back.  Obviously a very cumbersome and wasteful procedure.  Many solutions to this problem exist, including leased lines between the sites, ftp access, etc.  In this case, the client was extremely budget conscious and since the procedure they were using was technically working, it wasn't a high priority to "fix".  Enter DD-WRT.  Two Linksys routers and an hour of my time later, the remote site had drive mapped access to the server and the users could open the files, do with them as they pleased, and then save them.  They could also print hard copies on the main site's network printer if they so chose.

Just an example of a perfect use for a tool like this.  Non-mission critical, and they could easily go back to the old way of doing it if the link failed (It's been up non-stop for over a year now). Without such a tool, even the Netgear type VPN solution would have been pricey enough for them to have passed on it.

It's not a big deal.  All I was trying to suggest is perhaps you might think twice before using such broad generalizations as "and any networking professional's for that matter".  No hard feelings.  

Cheers!



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by:Pugglewuggle
ID: 22639267
Okay, in that situation I suppose it would be okay then. :)
I don't know that I would use it myself in any situation, but I concede. :-D
Cheers!
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by:jdana
ID: 31503017
Woah, I sparked some vigorous dialog.  I'm going to go for it.  It's a home office Linksys.  If I bring down the network for a few hours I only have my wife and kids to apologize to.
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by:Darr247
ID: 22640722
> Enter DD-WRT.  Two Linksys routers and an hour of my time later, the remote site had drive mapped
> access to the server and the users could open the files, do with them as they pleased, and then save them.

If that was v24, hopefully you went back and flashed v24 SP1 on both of those for them, which closes the security hole which made it possible for a rogue website to run malicious scripts on the attached network from the command shell (Commands subtab in the Administration tab).
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by:Pugglewuggle
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Like I said... full of bugs...
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