Asus RT-N16, Tomato v1.28

Discussion in 'Tomato Firmware' started by liquidzyklon, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. liquidzyklon

    liquidzyklon LI Guru Member

    Hardware = ASUS RT-N16
    Firmware = Tomato Firmware v1.28.9054 MIPSR2-beta K26 USB vpn3.6, Linux kernel and Broadcom Wireless Driver updates,

    : USB storage device plugged into ASUS router has delay when saving from wireless device (my main machine). For example, Excel spreadsheet opened, changes are made, press "Ctrl+S" to save. I would notice a pop-up window showing the progress of saving the changes. Immediately after pressing "Ctrl+S", if I press additional keys on the keyboard to queue them up they are blocked by the pop-up window and are not entered into the Excel spreadsheet.


    1. Moved the laptop from close to router to further from router (i.e. wireless signal quality from excellent to OK) still yield similar behaviour. Does not appear to be wireless strength related.
    2. Plugged external hard drive and USB onto a Windows 7 computer (Quad-Core, 8 GB RAM, connected by Gigabit ethernet). Shared both storage devices and conducted similar test (strong and OK wireless signal) with the exact same spreadsheet (i.e. press "Ctrl+S" and then queue keystrokes). Both storage devices have no lag (i.e. no pop-up window) and therefore the queued up keystrokes are sent to the Excel spreadsheet after it was saved.
    3. Plugged external hard drive and USB onto a Windows XP computer (Single Core 1.2 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, connected by 100 mpbs ethernet). Similar behaviour to the Windows 7 computer.
    1. ASUS router has only 480 Mhz processor and 128 MB RAM so it's weak and slow compared to a desktop, even a very old one. System overview shows CPU loads usually at 0/0/0 so I don't think it's heavily loaded. RAM usage has 10-15% free (~10-20MB). Based on the low system loads on the router, I don't believe that the router is struggling to keep up or respond to a simple request.
    2. Difference between Linus OS (ASUS router) and Windows XP/7 OS for the desktops in terms of SAMBA or file sharing that results in slower response time (i.e. pop-up saving window).

    Can someone with better system knowledge shed some light as to why I get the stupid pop-up window showing the progress of me saving an Excel file?
  2. mstombs

    mstombs Network Guru Member

    I think your theories are sound, but that does seem an old firmware, so there may be fixes in newer versions from Toastman (or EasyTomato) / Shibby etc, but anti-virus and firewall software can also interfere as SAMBA drives are opensource emulations of Windows servers - may not have same level of trust. The router is not a powerful fileserver, and transfer rates low with windows format drives, I wouldn't recommend regular use as a network drive. MS Office apps have habit of storing tmp and autobackup files in same folder as file being opened, I always recommend copying a file to desktop locally for editing then just save final version - especially for finite life usb flash drives...
  3. liquidzyklon

    liquidzyklon LI Guru Member

    Since I have an old laptop laying around, I am going to setup FreeNAS this weekend on it and connect a USB to perform similar testing.

    Good point about newer firmware possibly fixing this issue. I just got lazy with updating firmwares since everything for me works so well. I may consider this once I exhaust my other test options. I want to keep this as a control case for now and not change too many variables.

    What you are saying is that my laptop (Win7) has "trust" issues with SAMBA drives vs proper Windows 7/XP share of the drive? This is a good explanation, I will test it with FreeNAS running SAMBA this weekend.

    Thanks for reminding me that MS Office apps have the nasty habit creating temporary files / autobackup files in the same directory. This can lead to delay / lag in saving files. File transfer speeds from laptop to router ~2.0+ MB/s. File transfer speeds from laptop to desktop computers are at 4.0+ MB/s. I don't think it's so much the file transfer rate but it's the actual response time (i.e. ping) difference between router vs the desktop computer.

    Yes, I know that USB flash drive has finite life on write cycles. But I save files there b/c router is on 24/7 where the desktops are on only during the day. Once a week, I run a sync to ensure the USB from the router are backed-up to the Desktop computers so data integrity should be maintained.
  4. liquidzyklon

    liquidzyklon LI Guru Member

    Results are in. The problem is that Linux based system are not creating the CIFS native to the Windows OS environment. This slow response behaviour in saving the file occurs when the external file is stored on a Linux based router (i.e. Tomato) or a Linux based NAS (e.g. FreeNAS). The hardware difference between a router and the FreeNAS laptop are great (480 Mhz Broadcom vs 2.0 Ghz Intel Core Duo, 128 MB RAM vs 4 GB RAM). Linux based OS are great for stability such as the router, but the differences in OS requires emulation.

    Then the laptop was re-formated to Window 7 from Windows Vista and the internal HD and USB external HD were shared onto the network through wired LAN (100 Mbps) and wireless LAN (54 Mbps). Since the file sharing is from a native Windows environment, the saving of MS Excel files over the network is nearly instantaneous with no windows pop-up showing the progress of file saving. All combinations were done: file shared on internal HD across wired LAN and wireless LAN, file shared on USB external HD over wired LAN and wireless LAN.

    Finally, for a "cheap" NAS solution. I will end up using Windows 7 RAID for RAID-1 to minimize data loss and Windows 7 Backup and Restore to create one copy of the files on a weekly basis to protect against any accidental deletions.
  5. koitsu

    koitsu Network Guru Member

    1. FreeNAS is not Linux-based. It's FreeBSD-based. Linux != FreeBSD.

    2. This is not a Linux vs. Windows ordeal, it's Samba (which works on a multitude of OSes, ex. Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, and others) vs. native Windows CIFS/SMB ordeal. It's not about the OS, it's about the software that runs under the OS.

    3. CIFS/SMB is an absolutely awful protocol, performance-wise. All of this is exacerbated by the fact that home routers are not as powerful as desktop systems, additionally amplified by the fact that the USB storage IC on routers is extremely poor and not implemented as a separate chip (but rather part of the SoC). Performance problems have already been documented thoroughly throughout the years on this forum.

    4. There are caveats on FreeNAS when using CIFS/SMB as well, because the filesystem type it uses for storage (ZFS) is known to play very badly with certain speed-related file abstraction features within the system (I'm talking about sendfile() and mmap()). As such, on FreeBSD (thus FreeNAS), you have to make sure within Samba sendfile use is disabled, ditto with mmap -- otherwise you risk panic'ing the kernel. I know all of this because I've been an avid participant in the FreeBSD project since 1997, and have dealt with ZFS quite a lot. (See my blog if you think I'm kidding)

    5. There are some known configuration adjustments one can do to the Samba configuration on the router to help improve performance. However, some TomatoUSB firmwares already have these put in place, meaning "this is as good as it's going to get". It varies per firmware version.

    6. The problem you're seeing is something I myself see without USB storage on a router even involved. My Windows 7 Professional laptop (connected wirelessly) accesses a CIFS/SMB share on my desktop (connected via gigE). When accessing a file, particularly when writing/saving something to the CIFS/SMB share while on my laptop, I very briefly see Windows' progress metre pop-up. I can get this to happen using Windows Explorer when copying or editing files, or when using Office (Word, Excel, etc.).. It's universal. With Office, it also is further exacerbated by use of "temporary files" created on the same share (essentially the software makes a copy and works on that first, then has to copy the copy over the original and delete the old -- think about the I/O implications here).

    Windows has some retarded heuristics where it decides "when" to pop that dialog up. That's a Windows GUI/OS design choice. There may be registry variables you can adjust that change some of the heuristic decisions, but I simply don't know.

    I gave up trying to micro-manage Windows' UI experience after the release of Vista. All Microsoft has done is add pointless garbage to the OS while removing UI customisation and necessary adjustments of a GUI. This and a hundred+ (no joke) other reasons are why I still stick to Windows XP.

    TL;DR -- Live with the progress metre pop-up, unless you can find registry settings to change or inhibit its behaviour.
  6. liquidzyklon

    liquidzyklon LI Guru Member

    koitsu, thank you for the very insightful points regarding the CIFS/SMB file sharing experience. My bad for equating Linus to FreeBSD, not techsavvy enough to know the difference.

    Your point #6 brings up a good point that you can potentially have the windows progress meter pop-up from time to time, but it's already much reduced from my old configuration (i.e. 1 out of 10 times vs every time). Maybe I'll do some digging for a registry hack to prevent this from popping up. It's just the Windows OS that switches from the main window (e.g. MS Excel) to the pop-up progress window and thus your queued keystrokes are not transferred back to the main program (i.e. Ctrl + S to save with pop-up, followed immediately by Ctrl + W to close window).
  7. koitsu

    koitsu Network Guru Member

    Yup, that's because Windows applications absolutely love stealing focus. It plagues so much software that it literally disgusts me.
  8. liquidzyklon

    liquidzyklon LI Guru Member

    FYI for those who are interested. This apparently is a common problem that seem to have started in Office 2007 and later where MS decided to add the additional window pop-up during the saving process to show the user that the MS Excel/Word/etc did not freeze and it's progressing your Save command. There seems to be some people who mentioned that through VBA code to automate tasks, that setting _excelApp.DisplayAlerts = false; can result in a non-pop up.

    Bottom line, there is not real solution. By running Native Windows based CIFS/SMB, you ensure that there minimum incompatibility issues such as response time, transfer speeds, etc.
  9. gawd0wns

    gawd0wns Network Guru Member

    I highly recommend you use a usb device/drive formatted with ext2 filesystems.

    I assume it is formatted with NTFS, which has a lot of overhead and runs horribly slow with tomato flashed routers. The CPU and RAM of the router are also largely to blame. These devices just aren't powerful enough to get the promised USB speeds. The most I can get off a USB drive with ext2 is approx 8-10 MB/s when connected to my RT-N16. If I remember, a drive with NTFS would only get 4-5 MB/s.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
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