Take a plain, ordinary (read: boring, with limited functionality) $60 wireless router and supercharge it with cool features and lots more functionality, control, and diagnostics. There's much more under the hood of these devices than is accessible with the vendor's default firmware versions. Even the updates from the vendor's support website unlock only a fraction of the router's capabilities.
Third-party developers have made firmware upgrades available that unleash a lot more functionality.
"What is this 'firmware' of which you speak?" you ask. Well, that router is really just a fancy pile of switches waiting to be told what to do; that's the hardware. The firmware consists of the start-up instructions that make those switches actually do things. It's called firmware because it's not in the form of traditional "software" -- it's not on a moving disk. It is stored on a non-volatile memory (NVRAM) chip. The good news is: the vendors allow changes to that chip, so if they produce new versions of firmware, you -- the end-user -- can copy another version into NVRAM, letting your old device do new tricks. It also means that the chip can hold other code -- code written by someone other than the original vendor...
Note: I'm working on an updated version of this "-able" using firmware release v.24 SP1. Stay tuned...
Step 1: Assumptions and Preliminary Notes
Assumptions for this Instructable
- Using DD-WRT v23.SP2 firmware images
- Using Linksys WRT54G v1.1 router (serial # prefix CDF2)
- For upgrading from the original Linksys firmware, please use the generic mini version (dd-wrt.vXX_mini_generic.bin) and flash it from the web GUI interface.
- After this first flash upgrade, any other DD-WRT full firmware binary may be applied.
- For flashing via the web GUI interface (after applying the mini firmware), always use the included 'generic' binaries.
- The other Linksys router version-specific binaries are meant to be applied only through tftp upgrades.
- WARNING: Never, and I say never try to clear the nvram by the mtd utility. (mtd erase nvram). This will also delete your hardware MAC addresses which aren't stored in the CFE like in other routers -- the command line mtd utility can permanently brick your router.