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The Austin Linux Meetup Message Board › Hacking the Router

Hacking the Router

Bob C.
Austin, TX
Post #: 33
Has anyone done any custom hacking on their router? I recently read an article in Linux Pro magazine on OpenWRT. The article is called Projects on the Move, and gives a good synopsis of the project. OpenWRT is an open source project that offers an embedded Linux OS specifically for wireless routers, and it extends with modules to create custom wireless router systems. It's adaptable to several routers, and the base install is slim. The OpenWRT project is documented, offers a Wiki and a Forum, as well as a supported hardware database. As stated in the magazine article, it's possible to flash and configure the router to perform the services of a system that is worth several hundred dollars more than the original router.

A word to the wise: hacking and flashing the firmware of a router (or any other hardware device) can be irreversible or disastrous. This fact is stated clearly in the magazine article. I'm eyeballing my router, but I'm not about to start until I have a backup router to fall back on in case of a catastrophe. While it's possible to back up all configuration settings, and/or reflash the device, performing these operations on one's own hardware is 'walking the wire at your own risk'. There are no guarantees, and typically any manufacturer's warranty will be voided. Personally, I don't mind walking the wire but I like having a safety net, such as a back up router, and hacking on one that's already out of warranty. cool
A former member
Post #: 2
I have done a lot of work with a (now defunct) parallel Linux source base called eWrt for the linksys wrt54-series of routers. eWrt took a conservative approach and just tweaked the Linksys distribution . I was able to build and add many new modules: Shared Memory, new HTTP server, new config menus etc.). I also added a serial port console.

I believe OpenWrt updates the kernel and as many support libraries as they can. It has a pretty big following. I had looked at their website a couple of days ago and I am impressed with the number of supported platforms.

As far as 'walking the wire': I definitely would not start playing with a router you depend on!
If you want to play, you can probably find an older Linksys that supports OpenWrt at the goodwill computer store.

Also, the Digital Packet group of the Austin Amateur Radio Club (AARC) has been doing a lot of work modifying and reflashing the WRT's (ie: POE, HSMM mesh networks, Radio Mods etc...) for emergency communications. They have spent a tremendous amount of time with HSMM and have gotten some amazing result doing it (multiple video feeds & connecting point-to-point several miles across Austin).

- Eric
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