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Old 02-21-2013, 08:06 AM
vnangia vnangia is offline
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Default Does alternative firmware break your router?

Wonderful article - and definitely a useful piece to see what works and what doesn't in each firmware. I have to say though, the reason I swore off alternative firmwares was mainly for the speed (or lack thereof). For example, when I was still on a WRT54GL and using DD (v22, I think back then?), I saw about a third of the throughput that I saw with the stock. Did you run a similar speed test comparison while you had the different firmwares loaded?
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:17 AM
YeOldeStonecat YeOldeStonecat is offline
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Interesting article....
Gotta read it a second and possibly third time to digest it a bit more, or look at the tests thrown at it. But gotta head out for some onsites and go expand a network...

Years ago....in the old "early" days of home routers....the Linksys befsr and the wrt54 series....their firmware was quite....featureless, and it was well known that at least once a month or more, one had to go "reboot" the router to get the internet flowing smoothly again.

And back then I was big into online gaming, and read about the neat QoS features that 3rd party firmware had. So I got to playing with Hyper-WRT...and DD-WRT..and then found Tomato and that became my favorite.

Learned that reboots became a thing of the past.
Neat new features too...various VPN features, VLANs, wireless site surveys,

Back then...my home network had so much traffic on it, a load like a business network...I'd usually crush a home grade router and I had to turn towards *nix distros on x86 appliances...like IPCop, PFSense, m0n0wall, Endian, Smoothy, ...just to handle my loads. Regular home grade routers like Linksys, Netgear, DLink...I'd have them on their knees too much.

But a couple of years ago...I picked up a Cisco (Linksys really) e3000. For some reason my Atom D510 box was down (which was probably running PFSense at the time), or I had to use it for something else...so I converted my e3000 from access point mode...to be my primary router. Stock firmware. I was amazed at how well it handled the loads of my home network. (~11 devices...a son that torrents 24x7, he also online games about 20x7, has a laptop too, plus his smart phone, wife with her smartphone and laptop and Apple and iPad and daughter with her computer and ipad, me with my rig, laptop, smart phone....I'm sure I'm missing a few devices).

I had it running for a few months straight...stock firmware, no problems.
I saw Tomato firmware had a version released for it...so I stuck that on..just out of habit. But...really would have been fine with stock firmware.

What does this long winded blurb mean? Guess one might say...maybe manufacturers finally got their act together and are making some pretty stable firmware? I do wish they put in some more QoS features. Or maybe it's because the horsepower under the hood is getting better? Or a combination of both?

We do have those security concerns....Linksys got a pretty good reputation of having firmware on their popular home grade routers that was ripe with security holes. Recently we had that uPnP security issue circle around the media. I ran a test with my Tomato fired e3000 ..I had uPnP enabled...but I passed the test. Would the stock Stinksys firmware have passed the test?

My cliff notes...in the old days I definitely saw improvements both in stability, and performance...when replacing stock firmware with alternative firmware. Take the same network, same loads, same ISP.....instead of having to reboot a stock firmware fired router a couple of times a month, you could go for months and months or a year without reboots if you stuck on Tomato. (I still had to reboot with DD..but far less than stock...Tomato beat it for stability). I saw this behavior across many different routers back then.

But a couple of years ago, after the e3000 had been out for over a year maybe two...when I got it....was my first positive experience of stability with stock firmware. Flashing with tomato didn't increase performance or stability, seemed dead even.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vnangia View Post
Wonderful article - and definitely a useful piece to see what works and what doesn't in each firmware. I have to say though, the reason I swore off alternative firmwares was mainly for the speed (or lack thereof). For example, when I was still on a WRT54GL and using DD (v22, I think back then?), I saw about a third of the throughput that I saw with the stock. Did you run a similar speed test comparison while you had the different firmwares loaded?
I was going to do that, but had already done some of the tests when I thought of it. I tried to limit the flashes to a minimum to limit risk of bricking the router. The DD-WRT process in particular doesn't give me the warm fuzzies...
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:48 AM
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Great article. Any interest in running the test against pfsense?
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:34 AM
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Great article. Any interest in running the test against pfsense?
Thanks.

The NTA1000 was a loaner and has been here months longer than originally anticipated and will be returned shortly.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Chenevert View Post
Great article. Any interest in running the test against pfsense?
I was just about to ask the very same thing! It would be good to compare a stock / modified firmware against an Linux distro like pfsense/monowall or some type of UTM like astaro or endian.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thiggins View Post
I was going to do that, but had already done some of the tests when I thought of it. I tried to limit the flashes to a minimum to limit risk of bricking the router. The DD-WRT process in particular doesn't give me the warm fuzzies...
Yup, definitely not. That's why I use stock. I've no idea how YeOldeStonecat got a higher performance out of Tomato than stock, but in general the open-source movement doesn't give priority to the "high speed" feature...

Well, if you still have the router in question to give it a shot, I think we'd all benefit from it.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:33 PM
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I must say this certainly cements what I've already thought about DD-WRT. Don't get me wrong, I've used it before and loved it but for the past two years I've been using OpenWRT. It is FAR better than DD-WRT once you learn how to use the UCI and LuCI together. Support is rather minimal (it's definitely a DIY firmware) but muddling through it you tend to learn quickly.

I would hope this would be a wake-up call for DD-WRT founders, but they're probably too busy listening to their corporate sponsors than to refocus on the fan-base that made them popular. Oh well.

One thing to note - when you make firewall changes on these firmware, I would restart the router to make sure it boots up with that setting. I've found many times that a firewall change wouldn't take affect until the next restart.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:12 PM
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One thing to note - when you make firewall changes on these firmware, I would restart the router to make sure it boots up with that setting. I've found many times that a firewall change wouldn't take affect until the next restart.
The first thing CDRouter does in a test sequence is prompt you to restart the router, which I did.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:39 PM
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Same here. I think pfSense is the gold standard - pity it was not tested in this review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjcrandall View Post
I was just about to ask the very same thing! It would be good to compare a stock / modified firmware against an Linux distro like pfsense/monowall or some type of UTM like astaro or endian.
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