Your Linux Data Center Experts

A nice gray lazy sunday in Colorado seems like a great time to take a look at what Linux distributions are available for the Linksys wrt54g wireless access points. Read on for a round up of several distributions I tried out today.

For those of you that don't have a Linksys WRT54g router, they are great little devices. They have 4 wired ethernet ports, 1 wan port, 802.11b and 802.11g wireless and two antennas. It was found a while back that they were running a small Linux distribution and Linksys was made to comply with the GPL and release (almost) all the source. This allowed a bunch of different projects to take that base Linksys distro and change/improve/tinker with it. Open Source at it's finest.

One of the first distributions that came out for these access points was done by a company called SveaSoft. This distro has tons of features and a loyal following. I used to use it here, but their business model has turned me off. They are requiring subscriptions for all the beta versions and annoying registration for the final releases. Also, the development seems to be done pretty much totally in house for them (more “cathedral” than “bazaar”).

HyperWRT is another distribution that I have had pretty good luck with. It has just a few of the important add-ons from the Linksys base distribution, and seems pretty stable. One thing it doesn't have is ssh support yet, which is a pretty big deal for me. I don't like using telnet for anything except debugging anymore.

Finally, the distro I have decided to run on my WRT54g's is the wonderfully OpenWRT distribution. It's very much an open source package and it uses a different philosophy than most of the other projects. The base system sets up a few basic items (kernel, network, etc). All the rest of the added functionality is available in a package format called 'ipkg'. You can package whatever you like or install it from the existing package repositories on the net. There is no pretty web interface by default, but all the expected command line tools work great. The first thing after you install the firmware, you telnet into the access point and it asks you to set a admin/root password. It then disables telnet and enables ssh. Configuration files are by default links from the flash disk to the rom. When you want to change something, you copy the file from the rom and remove the link. There is about 2MB of flash disk for you to install files in. There are currently 154 packages available in the default repository, with tons more available from various other sites. Also as a bonus 'ipkg' can upgrade packages for security or bugfixes. Overall this seems like the winning distribution in almost every way.

For more information on linksys firmwares, check out: linksysinfo.org. They have tons of good information on the firmwares available and new linksys products.

You can find Linksys wrt54g* access points at many local stores, usually around the $50 price point. Well worth it in my opinion.

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