a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Because Everyone (Still) Needs a Router


About a year and a half ago, I researched the state of routers: about as unsexy as it gets but essential to the stability, reliability, and security of your Internet connection. My conclusion?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/06/because-everyone-still-needs-a-router.html


Broadcom drivers have always given me issues which is why when I was buying a new router I looked for one that had an Atheros chipset that would be supported by OpenWRT with the Ath9K driver, no weird proprietary firmware/drivers (kernel age dependent) issues.


Thanks for this, I didnt realize Tomato had an updated fork. I just bought a RT-N66U last month b/c my WRT54GL with Tomato finally took a crap.


According to the Amazon spec page, it doesn’t support IPv6 out of the box (on a “premium” product in 2012)? For real, or is the spec page mistaken?


Love reading your hardware posts. Great insight. Now I’m really considering replacing my aging WRT54GL (with Tomato, of course!) with RT-66U.


Jeebus, Tomato might be the most awesome thing ever, but that page about functional QOS is one of the worst-written I’ve ever encountered. It seems that they took a major teaching opportunity and wasted it behind snipes, obtuse examples, and dense writing.


Easily the best deal on a router currently is the Belkin Share Max N300 for $22 at Expansys: http://www.expansys-usa.com/belkin-share-max-n300-wireless-n+router-231205

It runs Tomato (see here) perfectly, has two USB ports (!!!), N300 wireless, amazingly good specs for a commodity router (enough flash-ram to run the largest distro of DD-WRT!)… and it’s only 22 freakin’ bucks.

I’ve been running it for several weeks now with no issues - for the first time, I can play games and download stuff while my wife watches Netflix, without negatively affecting my ping or her video-quality.


The current Tomato firmware does not support any IPv6 at all and the code has been dead for two years. Now you have to figure out which mod you want to use, which can be tough since there’s 10 known versions which are in various states of development or abandonment. As much as I love Tomato firmware, it’s just not usable anymore for modern routers.


Though I should mention that, according to reviews, that router is a piece of crap when running the stock-firmware, so this deal is for geeks-who-can-flash-router-firmware only :slight_smile:


Does anyone know of any Open Source firmware that is compatible with the Virgin Media Super Hub?


Just to add another option to your list, take a look at pfsense - http://www.pfsense.org - quite a complete and interesting solution not only for routing, but as a complete firewall/security solution.


Why is more memory a good thing? Doesn’t it just make the buffer-bloat problem worse?


Good read, I’d like to see a follow up post talking on the new AC routers… there a few out already, and AC cards (at least usb) are starting to come out too. I wonder how open sourced projects like DD/Tomato/Open will handle that.


Great write-up, like others in the comments, I am also still chugging along on my WRT54GL (with Tomato/MLPPP), although it has not shown signs of quitting anytime soon.


Really funny you use custom Linux in your router. I started with Freesco, a single floppy Linux distribution. But I’m really happy with my SpeedTouch ST780 router, which served me well. But then again: I don’t need QoS, since I’m the sole user of my internet.


I started using the Toastman variant of Tomato on my Cisco Linksys WRT610N router (dual-band) about a month ago. It runs a dream, with about 15 different devices connected at various times. Toastman has some great QoS rules set up by default, so I didn’t need to do much tweaking - just prioritizing the Apple TV and adding rules for FaceTime. It also includes per-IP statistics, so you can quickly see what devices are causing bottlenecks. Simple-to-setup VPN is yet another bonus!


The only downside to this hardware is you have to put DD-WRT on it first, and then upgrade to the toastman build. Just one more hurdle, but the payoff is definitely worth it.


I had a situation where I needed a WAP in the living room that could get my xbox, ps3, htpc, and roku box all online. I solved it with Tomato and a pair of $25 Netgear WRN2000v2 routers. WDS+Access-point mode is magic.

I blogged out the how-to here: http://cl.ly/HTPd


I’m currently using an E4000 with Tomato, and I’ve never been happier. My provider doesn’t offer IPv6 for now, so I set up a tunnel with Hurricane Electric, configured it on the router, and every device in my local network gets IPv6 for free :slight_smile: That, plus NAS (Samba, FTP and AFS) and printer sharing!


I bought my Linksys WRT54GL in December 2006 and flashed it with DD-WRT. It was $66.99 from Newegg (now $50). This thing is going on six years, and still works reliably, despite occasional power outages, high summer temperatures, and busy network traffic. I often have 5-9 devices connected to the router (laptops, iPhones, Roku, printers, HTPC, Wii, etc).

I thought about upgrading to something new, but wondered, why bother? It’s a damn trooper.

What $50 device can you think of that you use every day for six years that hasn’t broken down yet, or needs replacing?


I’m afraid to say that Tomato firmware QoS will not help you as you expect, Jeff. It only restricts your outbound traffic. If someone else is downloading an HD movie then your connection will be dog-slow, QoS or not.

AFAIK there’s no solution to this available with any home router, although it’s sorely needed.