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The best $600 router project for my $60.

15 July, 2007 (09:00) | Computers, Electronics, Fun, Hacks, Projects

I have heard of this custom, free firmware called DD-WRT for a while now, but I needed to purchase a compatible router that would accept the replacement software and the one that was recommended the most by others was the Linksys WRT54GL. It also was one of the most trivial to perform the upgrade.

The WRT54GL

Right out of the box the stock WRT54GL is a decent router so I ran it briefly to see what features it had and I felt there were just enough to make it worthwhile, but why settle for OK when I could install DD-WRT and wind up with so many additional features? The answer, of course, is ‘I won’t settle for OK’.

For this router I need to perform just one flash since it has enough memory to accommodate the entire firmware in one flash. Other Linksys routers require two flashes – a mini and then the whole enchilada.

After reading through the Wiki detailing the simple steps for the process and a few minutes of installing the new firmware I wound up with one hell of a router! The level of granular control now available to me for handling traffic, routing, QoS, setting up rules and monitoring activity is simply fantastic.

One of many control pages for DD-WRT.

Also, if you don’t yet know about OpenDNS, you should. You can see in the image above that those are the DNS entries I use and it is a great service. I gave up using the DNS servers that Comcast provided long ago. It provides content filtering if you desire (I don’t), but its best features are that it actively blocks known phishing sites and provides historical traffic data so you can see the activity going through your connection.

I highly recommend this software for anyone, especially considering that the router is the gateway and gatekeeper for all the data flowing through a house connected to the Internet. So what are you waiting for? Go!

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