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Advantages of using 3rd party firmware?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DNAtoByte, Jan 8, 2006.

  1. DNAtoByte

    DNAtoByte Network Guru Member

    First, this is not a criticism of 3rd party firware. What I would like to understand is "What are the advantages of using 3rd party firmware versus vendor firmware?". Is the advantage:

    1. Increased throughput
    2. More functionality
    3. Better overall stability
    4. Something else altogether

    Would the normal user of wireless network capabilities see advantages moving away from vendor supplied firmware? I have a WRT54GS v4, and I'm considering giving 3rd party firmware a try but I guess I would like to have a better understanding of the overall advantages that I might see before I move forward.

    Again, this is not a criticism of 3rd party firmware, it is merely a newbies request for information.

    Thanks in advance for any comments!!
  2. RcNorth

    RcNorth Network Guru Member

    The first question I would ask yourself, is if you are happy with what you have? Is there something that you would like to do and can't?

    Here are the reasons that I switched to dd-wrt
    - assign an anntena to receive the other to transmit
    - Ability to increase the tx power for wireless
    - The time of day settings on the access restrictions work, with the Linksys firmware (4.20.7) they didn't
    - more choices in the QoS
    - MAC assigned DHCP, so each PC will get the same IP, but the computer itself can be configured for DHCP.
    - In the future I will be able to take advantage of Linux on the router and use some of the tools such as FTP, measuring usage etc. (still learning Linux)

    I have had a Linksys router (WRT54G v1.0) for serval years now. I had heard that you could change the firmware, but I didn't know any Linux and the web interfaces were lacking from what I could tell.

    With the stability of these 3rd party firmwares and the ease of use to set them up, it is definately worth a try. If you don't like it, then make sure that you have a copy of a Linksys firmware that you know works, just in case you want to go back.

    Before switching to whatever firmware you want to try, be sure to do a lot of reading first and make sure you understand the process before attempting it. I think that a majority of the problems are because people aren't following the directions.
  3. jgutz20

    jgutz20 Network Guru Member

    maybe WDS is something worth considering for you also
  4. NateHoy

    NateHoy Network Guru Member

    The First Law of Computing is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    Having said that, the default Linksys firmware is broke in a few ways. Most people can live with them, some cannot.

    For me, factors in choosing HyperWRT Tofu 10 (then 12) were:

    BitTorrent/P2P: The default Linksys settings make the router largely useless for P2P unless you set some pretty severe limitations on your client. The only way around this is to change a few settings that the default firmware won't let you change. Hence, you need third party firmware.

    Static DHCP: Not a huge issue, but a nice little add-on in Tofu. I like having a few of my machines get the same IP address, and it's darned handy for port forwarding.

    Wireless controls: Additional controls over antenna strength, and a few other tweaks that make wireless work a little better for me.

    Speed: Though I cannot confirm this, the general opinion around here seems to be that Tofu is faster than stock firmware.

    Stability: After running my network connection at about 100%, for 31+ continuous days, running BitTorrent and Vonage in addition to VPN and general web surfing, all with fast response time every time I've used it, I'm sold. I had to reset my uptime clock today to upgrade from Tofu 10 to Tofu 12, but it was up for a solid month prior to that.

    Additional controls: A few extra forwarding fields, expanded QoS capabilities, and a few other nice-to-have tweaks round out my appetite for Tofu. ;)

    For each person that goes third party, there are probably thousands of "typical" router users who don't even know it exists, and probably a small percentage of those end up returning the router because it lacks some feature or has some flaw that COULD have been fixed with third party firmware. For the rest, well, if it works, it works. If you need a feature that third party firmware can provide, or want to see if you can get better performance or stability, or just want bragging rights, then it may be worth the (minimal) risk.
  5. KiDD

    KiDD Network Guru Member

    I use 3rd party software to turn my WRT54G into a fast client with a switch for xbox and pc
  6. vincentfox

    vincentfox Network Guru Member

    Exactly why, would you want to have one antenna receive and the other transmit? Do you have the idea there are 2 different radios hiding in there or something? I can assure you there is only one radio. The particular choice you have made, while mostly harmless, is not going to gain you any more performance or anything.
  7. DNAtoByte

    DNAtoByte Network Guru Member

    Sensible advice from all and thanks for your comments. I too am an advocate of the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought. I recently ran crying and screaming from a Netgear G router. After constant reboots every 24 hours, that was a case of "it is definitely broke".

    Certainly static IP and/or IP to MAC assignments may be enough to warrant giving it a try. Like I said in my original post, I have a WRT54GS v4, so I think I will start with the mini release of dd-wrt (given the firmware size restrictions that Linksys has placed on this router). If I can get that successfully installed, then on to bigger and better things (or a terminally bricked router). :)

    Thanks again for the feedback!
  8. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Just upgraded

    Tonight, i just bit the bullet and upgraded my wrt54s v2 tonight. I put the dd-wrt v 23. It was a gamble because i was in your position. It didnt work the first 4 times. then i figured out you have shouldnt have spaces in the url to the BIN file. After that, DDwrt was up and running. It is the sweetest thing ever. After i played with the settings, and even the one anntenna tx and one rx which actually makes for a worse signal, i put sveasoft alcemy on it. Yuck. DDwrt has more settings and tweaks than even sveasoft. also, the DDwrt is very clear and high resolution. If you upgrade to 3rd party, make DDwrt your first upgrade. You will not regret it unless you brick your router. If you follow the directions and reset your router before you upgrade, and dont touch the router while its in the process of, and PRAY your power doesnt go out. YOU will not be disappointed. It is very cool.


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