Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tinkers of WRT54G Gadget Be happy, Linux version still alive

Even I bought and returned the (in)famous V5 of WRT54G, because I could not mess around with it. So I got a WRT54GS. That is going to be my plaything, I thanked myself by getting it on Thanksgiving weekend. I will let you know how it goes.
linksys has not killed the Linux version, they are still producing it in lesser quantity, under the name "WRT54GL". So you can still load all those third party software on it, join message boards devoted to it and spend next half century, improving your WI-FI VOIP and any other gadgets and Gizmos that uses wireless technology.
The news was on Slashdot and Linux devices today and I am sure news made many a gadgeteers happy.
According to the articles,
LinkSys's director of product marketing, Mani Dhillon, said LinkSys made the switch because, as a more deeply embedded system, VxWorks allowed the company to halve the amounts of Flash and RAM in the device, while retaining similar functionality. Apparently, reducing memory-related BOM (bill-of-materials) costs more than offset the costs of licensing a proprietary OS, given the WRT54G's extremely high sales volume. "We sell literally hundreds of thousands per month," Dhillon said.

The new, VxWorks-based WRT54G "series 5" models have 2MB of Flash, and 8MB of RAM, compared with 4MB of Flash and 16MB of RAM in the earlier, Linux-based versions. Although the "series 5" devices offer Linux hobbyists less elbow room to load alternative firmware (assuming they could get around the bootloader to install it), it seems likely the hacker community will rise to the challenge.

Linux hackers and hobbyists have long hot-rodded their WRT54Gs, adding features such as Radius authentication, bridge capabilities, VoIP QoS (voice-over-IP quality-of-service), and so on. The L model will continue to offer 4MB of Flash, and 16MB of RAM, in order to support the various freely and commercially available alternative firmware images for the devices that depend on those memory capacities.

This is not a simple hacker toy, Wi-Fi Planet has published a story about turning LinkSys's ubiquitous, Linux-based (versions 1-4) WRT54G into the functional equivalent of a $600 enterprise router, by installing community-developed firmware that adds features such as Radius authentication, WPA2 encryption, VoIP QoS features, and integration with WiFi hotspot management systems.

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