Hacking the LinkSys WRT-54G

LinkSys manufactures a router-switch-wireless access point that’s a spiffy little computer on top of being a cute computer peripheral. The machine sports a 200 MHz ARM processor, 4 Mb of Flash RAM and 8 Mb or RAM. (Their new GS models doubles both of these). It is managed via a web interface. Not surprisingly, the device runs Linux. Since they base their code on Linux, the GNU Public License requires them to publish the source code as well. Naturally, this leads to third parties offering enhancements and replacements. Cool stuff includes:

  • Sveasoft offers a replacement with the BusyBox command shell, DropBear SSH server and dozens of other tools, as well as many bug fixes.
  • BatBox is a set of add-on tools for the standard LinkSys firmware
  • Folks at SeattleWireless.net document the router on their wiki and have a fascinating website about creating community wireless nets. They also highlight NoCatSplash, an “Open Public Network Gateway Daemon” in case you plan to offer a community site with a sign-on or “I Agree” click-through.
  • OpenWrt takes a different tack, offering a base distribution on top of which you can customize your own tools
  • Portless Networks offer their eWrt distribution, a fork from an earlier version of the Sveasoft software, with a goal of developing a stable distribution for ISPs and other network providers.
  • HyperWRT focuses on boosting the broadcast power, a great idea if you are not in a dense urban environment and want maximum broadcast range

So, why would you hack a working appliance just to put your own custom software on it? 1) It’s cool. 2) Bug fixes 3) More features 4) Why not?

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.