Since my ISP charges a huge amount of money for giving me a static IP, I’m planning to switch to dynamic. But… my router is a Linksys 610N and even with the newest firmware it only has two options for DDNS-providers. One which seems offline or dead, and the other is dyndns.org which turned itself from a free service into a paid service with only limited options for free.
So there are plenty of DDNS-providers, but the firmware is not up to the job? It sure looks like it’s time to play around with some alternative firmware!
When I bought this router back in december 2009 I specifically chose it because I read that it could run the DD-WRT alternative firmware. However, as it turned out DD-WRT wasn’t ready for the dual radio feature on the router… and I quickly forgot about the project since the router was really doing everything it’s supposed to do, perfectly.
Now that I ran into this DDNS problem I revisited a lot of the alternative router firmware pages. I found the TomatoUSB firmware which supports the the dual radio and wireless N. (Perhaps DD-WRT does this too, and it could be that they just haven’t updated their page for some time.)
So I decided to go with TomatoUSB instead of the more well known DD-WRT. It also looks cooler in my humble opionion 🙂
Now, converting my quite expensive router into a plastic brick would make me quite mad, so I decided to plan this out well.
Make a backup plan
If I were to mess things up and leave the house without internet access I woun’t be too popular, and I would be quite mad myself too.. so I needed a backup plan.
First I read all about unbricking the 610N on the DD-WRT site. This will tell you how to recover the device if something goes really wrong. The fact that the 610N has a mode where it can run “without firmware”, and has the ability to get firmware this way, made me belive that it would be near impossible to completely mess it up.
Then I wrote down the mac address of the router. Some IPS lock the line onto a specific mac address, and if you connect another device you’ll sometimes have to wait for quite a long time until the mac address is reset. You can find the mac address in the administration area of the Linksys 610N.
It’s sort of logical, but people still tend to forget that it’s quite hard to find help on the internet when you just broke your connection. So I left all the above information open as tabs on my browser and I made sure to download the original firmware from Linksys so I had it ready, in case I needed to unbrick the device.
The actual firmware flashing
After reading pages up and down on the Tomato site I found out that it was quite easy to flash the 610N. It has a large ROM that has room for the “huge” ext version, and it can be flashed from within the original Linksys firmware. The only thing one has to be sure of is to choose the K26 version which is the only one that works on the 610N. At the time of writing it was the top one on the download page, simply named: ext.
I went to the routers firmware upgrade tab and selected the file I had just downloaded and extracted. I had to rename the extension to .bin to make the original firmware accept it, but apart from that everything went just as if this had been official firmware.
When the update was complete the updater was expecting to be able to navigate to some page, which didn’t work out. So according to the info on the DD-WRT site, I turned the router off, waited 10 seconds and turned it on again. I never did a hard-reset, because it worked out of the box. Everything was set up just like before, but just running on Tomato Firmware. Only the portforwarding rules had to be redone.
Tomato looks a lot better than the old Linksys firmware. And everything works extremely fast. You click, and it’s there!
The DDNS is great. It works with a huge number of providers and also allows you to use a custom URL which is nice if your provider is not on the list.
The Bandwith tab shows all kinds of cool graphs. I havn’t really looked into what I can use this for, but it looks pretty damn cool 🙂
Basically the firmware enables every single option you can think of. The wireless settings page is a long list of things where I’ve never heard of half of them and the QoS settings are extreme. All of this will require some serious reading. For example the QoS is well documented, but the tutorial is huge.
It’ll probably take some time to get all this under control 🙂