[conspire] wireless router

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Dec 31 12:09:09 PST 2009

Quoting Breen Mullins (bpm at sdf.org):

> I'm looking for a smallish wireless router - preferably OS based, of
> course. It'll probably need only one or two clients at once.
> I'm digging on the web, but advice and experience are more than
> welcome. 

Hi, Breen.  Your best source of information is probably people closely
associated with the OpenWRT Project.   (A Wikipedia writer characterises
it as "Customizable firmware written from scratch with a JFFS2 file
system for package management aimed mostly toward advanced users", which
is fair enough.)  http://openwrt.org/

I recently received as a gift a pair of Linksys WRT54G V2 units
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WRT54G), the second iteration of the
embedded devices that launched this craze in the first place.  The
WRT54G design is a useful point of departure in addressing your
question, because one should take careful note of its main limitations:

o  4 MB flash mass storage
o  16 MB RAM  (which you can double with some difficulty and soldering)
o  no USB ports

Also, the unit is based on Broadcom chips.  Broadcom is of course one of
the chip vendors least cooperative with open source, which means coders
are obliged to do significant reverse-engineering work.  I briefly
discussed on this mailing list the measures local expert Daniel
Gimpelevich and I were put through to get _good_ OpenWRT support running
on it, here:

A USB port (especially a hi-speed/SuperSpeed one) is useful for working
around storage limitations.

I mentioned in that post:  "If you're buying a wireless router, look for
one based on an Atheros or Infineon chipset, not a Broadcom one."

Occasionally, East Asian companies produce something really superior in
that department, and available production tends to get mobbed by eager
Linux hobbyists for running OpenWRT (and similar) on.  For example,
Daniel pointed out a particular Planex Communications, Inc. model that
was really sweet (see: http://oldwiki.openwrt.org/Hardware(2f)Planex.html,
https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=18434),  but it's been
unobtainium for well over a year.

My general suggestion:  Go to
https://forum.openwrt.org/viewforum.php?id=10 and follow discussions
about what strikes the right balance between being cutting-edge hardware 
on the one hand, and having good open-source support, on the other.

Daniel might also have other, better-informed ideas.

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