Praise for Tomato, free router firmware replacement

Linksys WRT54G version 1.
Image via Wikipedia

Tomato is one of a number of replacement firmwares for routers. Last week I switched over to it from the stock firmware on my Linksys WRTG54. So far I love it, despite it being responsible for knocking my network offline and forcing me to re-configure everything from scratch. Truth be told at this point I’m pretty sure the network being offline was my fault (me? Read the docs? never!), and the process of rewriting every device’s config from scratch was a good exercise for me since I have a ton of devices and the configs were an accumulation of mistakes small and large.

The whole move to Tomato was caused by Thanksgiving, when one too many devices ended up on my network. This caused a cascade effect of ip addresses being bumped and multiple devices with one IP assigned to them. This knocked my consoles offline and caused my streaming music to stop working, pushing me to replace the firmware, but I had been planning to do it anyway for a couple of reasons. First, Comcast now has a 250GB monthly bandwidth cap and I want to track how much we’ve used of it at any point in time, and second because there are bugs in the factory firmware on my router which cause UPnP not to work for my gaming consoles.

The install process couldn’t have been simpler – just point the default firmware’s update function at the firmware from the site, do a nvram reset, and configure. It was even smart enough to pick up my old firmware’s configuration with its dozens of MAC addresses in the wireless access list, and though in the end I think that’s what caused the problems I initially had, I was still impressed that it worked.

UPnP now works on my consoles, the interface on Tomato is much nicer than the default Linksys one, there are a ton more features including ssh access, dynds/domain mapping, full routing functions, various logging/traffic reporting features, and more, and all for free – it’s a fantastic option if you have one of the supported routers. Definitely worth checking out.

For kicks, to give you a sense of scale, here’s a mostly complete list of networked objects in my house, each of which I had to poke yesterday as I resurrected everything:

Hardware:

  • Yamaha receiver
  • Pocorn Hour streaming media box
  • Xbox 360
  • Playstation 3
  • Squeezebox Duet remote
  • Squeezebox Duet content streamer
  • Linux webserver
  • Gaming PC
  • 2 mac laptops

Software:

  • Playon (PC)
  • Apache (linux)
  • MyIhome (PC)
  • Squeezecenter (PC)

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