What’s the best firmware for the Linksys WRT54GL?

In my “job” as the weekend admin of my wife’s primary schools IT systems, I have to re-install the schools wireless setup – when the movers worked in the school during summer break, they broke the main DSL WiFi Router, so we had to get a new one.

I got another Linksys WRT54GL of course, as this is the one device that has never failed me yet. It’s been quite some time that I set up a new one, so I’m not up to speed with current developments in alternative formwares.

Here’s what I want to do:

  • set up a WPA2 protected wireless bridge from the DSL modem to the computer room
  • configure OpenDNS as a filter (GREAT solution!)
  • allow for remote management of the infrastructure

So, what do I use? So far I’ve used DD-WRT in most cases, but Tomato is also rumoured to be good. Any recommendations? Other firmwares I should be looking at?

Universal Wireless Repeater

Over the last few evenings, I have spent quite some time trying to figure out a combination of WPA (wireless protected access) and WDS (wireless distribution system) that actually works.

My DSL line ends in the basement of our house, and my wife’s office is on an upper floor. The signal of my primary WiFi router (AVM Fritz!Box 7050) doesn’t make it that far, so I set up a trusty Linksys WRT54G as a WDS repeater. That worked well, but it didn’t allow me to activate WPA encryption on the connection, as WDS over WPA just does not work in this combination. Not that I’m too scared about neighbours using my internet connection, but when someone from roughly 300m away told me they could see my SSID, I got a bit worried.

I went out and bought a second Fritz!Box, as some people mentioned this would be a solution. Unfortunately, with AVMs latest firmware update (…) there seem to be a few problems with exactly this setup. My wife going “what’s wrong with the internet again…?” didn’t exactly help.

Today I found this via Lifehacker (what a GREAT blog!):

“This How-To provides step-by-step instructions for creating a Universal Wireless Repeater appliance: a device that you can place anywhere and it will wirelessly repeat the strongest signal, onto another wireless network (with or without security). This functionality is also known as Wireless Client Bridge, or Range Expander. Unlike WDS, once you have this appliance setup, it will work with any open network.”

Doesn’t this sound just great?? I’ll give it a try tonight. Good thing I kept the Linksys.