Posted by Tejus Parikh on August 18, 2006

For whatever reason, wireless networking in my house to our Windows computers is spotty at best. Personally, I put the blame squarely on Bill Gates and Stever Ballmer, but that’s besides the point.

Adding more access points might be an option, but one that will require running cables between floors before that’s any help. In the quest for a more immediate solution, I tried to upgrade the the default firmare to one of the many third party linux based firmwares out there. The one I settled on was DD-WRT.

The process would have been very straight forward, except I had the Linksys WRT54Gv5, which meant that I had a lot of extra hoops to jump though. Thankfully, the guys at bitsum found a way to change the firmware without any crazy hardware hacking or special cables.

Unfortunately, the process was far from smooth. Apparently the internal httpd daemon is extremely flakey and will only work with IE (?!). This meant I had to reboot the wife’s computer to Windows. After that the process when relativley smoothly for the first router.

DD-WRT’s interface is much nicer than the default Linksys one. One of the best features is the section that shows you who is associated with the access point and their signal quality. This make it a whole lot easier to debug some of the environmental problems around one of the workstations in the house. Other neat things include status on the memory usage and the load average. Also fun is the ability to increase the power of the attenna to nearly cook food that’s too close levels.

Since I’m using the WRT54G strictly as an accesspoint, I didn’t get to try any of the neat looking firewall stuff.

So far, so good, until it came time to upate the other access point on the network. That’s when the real craziness happened. While I made sure to use unique IP addresses I could never see both wireless networks at the same time. The really oddball bit was that Windows could see one, and was completely unable to connect to the other, Linux only saw one, but could connect to both, and the Mac had no problems at all. Very strange and frustrating. I was completely unable to figure this one out.

Eventually, my only recourse was to return one of the routers back to standard linksys firmware, which was a serious downgrade. On the bright side, I managed to not brick any of the routers.

Unfortunately, this leaves me back at square one. It might be time to get some bigger antennas, or bite the bullet and drop ethernet though the house.

Tejus Parikh

Tejus is an software developer, now working at large companies. Find out when I write new posts on twitter, via RSS or subscribe to the newsletter: