Routers

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A router is a device that routes packets between different networks.

Modern residential routers don't only route packets, but also offer several advanced features, like a firewall, QoS, packet filtering, DHCP and more. It's also common for routers to incorporate an access point, to provide wireless connectivity.

Typically, home routers come with DHCP, NAT, UPnP and firewall preconfigured, to enable plug-and-play internet connectivity.

Modem

TP-Link TD-W8960N using bridge mode

A modem is a simple device that converts a digital signal to an analog one, and vice versa. One is usually needed to connect to the Internet.

It's hard to find a modem by itself nowadays, most are sold as a modem/router combo. While those combos are nice, since you only need a single device, they aren't usually supported by third party firmwares (the only exception being some router/modem combos using a Lantiq chipset, which are supported by OpenWRT), and are overpriced compared to standalone routers.

"Bridge mode" is used to "disable" the router part in those, and use them as standalone modems with a separate, standalone router.

For ADSL, modems using a recent Broadcom chipset usually achieve a more stable/faster connection.

Many internet service providers in the US provide a modem with their service, but it is usually shit. You may want to ask them for a list of approved modems before buying your own, but bear in mind that this list may just include companies that pay in order to get on that list.

Bridge Mode

If you're stuck with a router provided by your internet service provider and you don't like it, check if it has an option for bridge mode. This will turn off most of its features and force it to send all of its traffic through the first LAN port, where you can connect your own router and have better control over your network.

ISP-supplied routers often leave root access open to the ISP and almost always run non-free firmware.

Notes:

- If you have an ADSL line, then bridge-mode is a good idea to investigate and enable.

- If you have a cable line (and the cable modem does not have shit other than a LAN port), then it is likely already bridged.

Aftermarket antennas

Changing the antennas in your router is a quick way to improve the quality of the wireless connection. However, since the signal quality depends on many factors, results may vary.

Routers usually come with 3db antennas. Aftermarket ones go up to 12db, and even more.

The stock antennas are usually omnidirectional. Those are the most versatile, since they send the signal in every direction, but if you need to reach only some specific point, mono/bidirectional antennas are better for that.

To change your antennas, you need to know what connector your router is using. The most common one is RP-SMA, but double check on the router's specification page too. If that page doesn't say anything, here's a great cheatsheet with the most common adapters.

When replacing the antennas, remember that you need to change all of them. Not changing them all will not provide any benefit, and might lower your signal quality.

When shopping for an aftermarket antenna, don't go too cheap. Cheap ones are "up to Xdb", which mean that it might go up to Xdb, but it probably will not.

Another solution to consider for improving signal strength is to get a better adapter. Sometimes you can't just do anything from your router, but you need a good adapter with a good external antenna.

Third party firmwares

Tomato

Tomato by Shibby running on a Linksys e3200

Tomato is a custom firmware known for its simple and user friendly interface.

There are several forks of Tomato, and it's recommended you use them instead as they're much more up to date, the most famous being:

While there are many forks, their developers constantly share code. Because of this, it's hard to find a feature that is supported by only a specific version of Tomato.

OpenWRT and LEDE

OpenWRT main article.

The OpenWRT wiki is not always updated, so when checking if your router is supported, always search in the forum too.

DD-WRT

http://desipro.de/ddwrt/K3-AC-Arm/ DD-WRT fork(?) that support the latest ARM routers (Netgear R6250/R6300v2/R7000, Asus AC56U/AC68U, D-Link DIR-868R)

Asuswrt-merlin

Asuswrt-merlin (Download) is a custom firmware based on Asuswrt, the open source firmware used by recent Asus routers.

It supports most Asus routers.

Since it's based on Asuswrt, it uses the official web UI, while adding several useful features, like SSH access, Cron jobs, customizable user scripts and several minor tweaks and enhancements (full list here).

rt-n56u project

This project is a try to build complete working environment for ASUS RT-N56U/N65U/N14U/N11P/AC51U/AC54U/AC1200HP based on the open source asus firmware. It supports VPN (includeing OpenVPN) and media streaming out of the box and allows the installation of many Linux software using the opkg package manager.

RouterTech AR7

Custom firmware, with sources for Texas Instruments AR7 (Class II) based routers, except the Netgear DG834 (which is rather different but has an OpenWRT port, unlike the other AR7 modem/routers)

Updates to latest BusyBox versions and adds SSH, useful shell utils (top and netstat for example) and some RAM optimization routines, better QoS, newer DSL datapump drivers for ADSL, better monitoring, etc.

Use a computer as a router

If you have a spare computer around, or you need more power than a small ARM/MIPS CPU can deliver, then you can turn your computer into a router.

pfSense is the most common distribution used and it's based on FreeBSD. A Linux-based alternative is Smoothwall

The advantages of running a computer as your router are:

The disadvantages are:

If you're looking for a real-time internet monitor/filter/traffic shaper, check out OpenEdgeWise. It's GPL, it supports routing through Tor, it does proper traffic shaping/QoS, and can even catch HTTPS traffic/proxies! It was developed once upon a time when the creator's roommate was being an internet hog. This can be run on a computer, or plugged directly into the router.

Adblock script?

Can be used with tomato-based firmwares, don't know if it works on DD-WRT.

Follow this thread.

If you happen to be a poorfag with a router with less than 4MB Flash and had to have a "lite" version of the firmware, the adblock.sh script won't work. In those "lite" versions, awk is not installed. If that's the case, or you don't have a JFFS partition, you can get an all-in-one adblock script that you can copy pasta to the WAN-Up section of Tomato here.

What routers does /g/ recommend?

WRT54GL

The classic "little blue box" small office/home office router. This device was and still is what sits between many people and the internet. It has aged well, and provides speeds most SOHO networks won't ever really need to fully exploit. Also puts out wireless G, which while not as fast as N, is adequate. Linksys programmed the WRT54G's firmware off GPL code, and open sourced that firmware. The result of this open sourcing is the creation of OpenWRT and DD-WRT. This is very old hardware however, and recent versions even downgraded it further. Thus this router is only worth it if you can find an old one for (very) cheap.

Features

ASUS RT-N66U

The new powerhouse router. If you need gigabit speeds throughout your network in both wired and wireless connections this is the one to get. It comes with its own firmware but is easily flashed to DD-WRT or TomatoUSB. You may not be able to find the RT-N66U and can find the RT-N66R. The difference between the U and R is the R is designed for retailers. The hardware is exactly the same.

Features

ASUS RT-AC68U/AC68P

Powerful AC1900 router. Supported by most 3rd party firmware, except OpenWRT. AC68U v2 is the same as AC68P. ASUS has limited channels and Tx power in recent firmwares, to comply with regulations (This can be bypassed with a special firmware).

Features

TP-Link provides a broad variety of budget routers with the TL-WR741N/ND being the cheapest. For as little as 20$ this router is your best bet if you're low on money. Since it is well supported by open firmwares like DD-WRT and OpenWRT the lack of features of the original firmware can be easily compensated. Furthermore, the TL-WR741ND has an unpopulated USB 2.0 port that can be made use of. You might also want to have a look at the TL-WR841N/ND which is slightly more expensive, but comes with two antennas and 300 Mbps WiFi instead of 150 Mbps. And there's the TL-WR941N/ND which has a 3x3 config and stronger hardware. TL-WR1043N/ND adds GbE and even stronger hardware.

Features

AC1750 router, with OpenWRT support and low price.


NetGEAR WNDR 3800

This is the all-around good router that is officially supported by CeroWRT as well as OpenWireless.

Features:

Cisco ASA5505

This is a hardware firewall that can act as an edge router. This one does not have any wireless features as its just a firewall. It's not a turnkey solution and requires a bit of knowledge to get things working correctly. There is a GUI available that can be used to get all of the information as there is a lot of information that requires correlation between config parts.

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