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Waterford, MI

OpenWRT vs. DD-WRT vs. Tomato?

I've got this LinkSys WRT54GL that's currently running a couple-years-old release of CoovaAP. Used to be the AP & captive portal for our guest hotspot at work, until one day it appeared to have up and bricked itself. I replaced it. Before tossing it the other day, I figured I'd see if it was at all salvageable. Lo and behold: It appears to be more-or-less working. CoovaAP's admin page doesn't show up, but it emits a wireless signal and I can log in via the LAN ports with ssh.

So... I'm thinking of re-flashing it with one of: OpenWRT, DD-WRT or Tomato, to keep it around as kind of a "utility" wireless router/AP.

The immediate use I have for it is to loan it to my club, where we have a WRT54G and two LinkSys APs as repeaters. The club's WRT54G is intermittent. I figured I'd loan my club this WRT54GL until we can get the problem properly resolved. I'll need to clone the club's WRT54G's wireless MAC address to the one I'd be loaning, and set it up for WDS (I assume) repeating.

So which firmware would the wisdom of this forum recommend?



Grande Prairie, AB
·TekSavvy DSL
I've found Tomato to be terribly stable. Others here will say the same thing about the other choices. I believe OpenWRT is a lot more modular, so you can install all kinds of packages and options. The trade-off is that it takes a little more know-how to make it work, as I understand.

Bill In Michigan
Royal Oak, MI
·WOW Internet and..
reply to jseymour
As an OpenWrt user, it's not for everyone. I was surprised to see it in the running but nothing comes close for a Linux tinkerer. While they have ready-to-go images the real advantage is compiling your own firmware. I'm no developer but their build system is so easy even I can do it.

DD-WRT spews features but under the hood is an extremely creative environment to get the most from the available memory. I'm biased with the nice Linux environment of OpenWrt so DD-WRT looks like a mess - yet it apparently works for many people and has the most features.

Over the years, Tomato seems the most solid for the average user. It's the one I generally recommend.

Da Geek Kid

reply to jseymour
I'd Pick DD-WRT... I have tried the other two. For me the dd-wrt is a bit more reliable. I have had a WRT54GL running for over 3+ yrs without a problem. It's the one I take with me any where as a 100% guaranteed backup box if the other "Netgear" fails...



2 recommendations

reply to jseymour
While dd-wrt and tomato are very similar, there *are* some differences. And whether those differences matter depend on how you plan to use it.

Tomato doesn’t support virtual interfaces, and thus can’t be setup as a universal repeater, or establish a guest/secondary wireless network.

Tomato doesn't support PPTP VPN (client or server), at least not out of the box (can be installed as OptWare), while dd-wrt does both. Like dd-wrt, tomato does support OpenVPN, and which is certainly superior, but PPTP can still be useful because it’s ubiquitous. For example, if you need to support iOS clients (e.g., iPhone), that might be an important consideration.

Tomato QoS seems to work better than dd-wrt QoS, imo.

And if you have USB ports on your router, tomato has a lot more built in support, including SMB and FTP.

As far as WDS, beware that WDS is NOT a wifi-certified protocol, so implementations vary, and so you can run into a boatload of problems unless you can GUARANTEE all WDS partners are using the same implementation (i.e., all tomato, all dd-wrt). If you attempt to mix tomato/dd-wrt WDS w/ the stock WDS implementations on those other Linksys routers, it may not work, or will appear to work but not reliably. This is what makes WDS such a PITA and why it should be avoided unless you know w/ 100% certainty you have compatibility.

In general, I prefer tomato because I like the simpler, cleaner interface, unless I have a specific need it can’t address. dd-wrt’s “everything including the kitchen sink” approach can be overwhelming for newbs.


Plainfield, IL

1 recommendation

Most recent Tomato builds allow for virtual interfaces, toastman and shibby are 2 that come to mind. Shibby also has OpenVPN in the package, so PPTP client/server is available "out of the box".
Semper Fidelis