I've been looking to upgrade my router back in Toronto. The one I had would constantly drop wifi and still work as a wired router (D-Link 514) and also thinking about getting a router for the place I live right now since my landlord is super paranoid about buying wireless routers. He's gone through 4 of them - all of which he had to return to Future Shop.. (I'm partly to blame since I consume so much bandwidth through P2P traffic, which causes many routers on the market to just reset) So I started to do some research. This may be old news.. (really old news) but...... since I'm currently doing an internship in the telecom industry (hope to do so once I graduate) which is focusing on wireless technology now, I think it's important to spread the word.
So Linksys has this wireless router. The model number is WRT54G. A few years ago, in 2003, it was discovered that the firmware of the WRT54G was actually based on Linux. Because of this, Linksys was obligated to follow through with the GNU General Public License. They were sued by Columbia Law School Professor Eben Moglen, who's apparently someone who really hates proprietary software and believes that information should absolutely free and that free information leads to a better society. Linksys didn't put up a fight and released their source to the public. This let hackers and hackers alike modify the source and release their own firmwares. There's so many of them: dd-wrt, OpenWRT, batbox, HyperWRT Thibor, just to name a few of them.
And now? Guess what, society 'is' better.. Well, at least the population of tech-savvy geeks who absolutely need a really reliable router for all their net needs. It "turns a $60 router into a $600 router" simply because of the open platform. With a 3rd party firmware, it became infinitely more reliable than any other consumer router on the market at the time. Everyone who knows linux knows that you will rarely ever have to reset it. You can do things like QoS (Quality of Service) to prioritize packets for things like online gaming, VOIP, web surfing, streaming video, while having all your bandwidth consumed by P2P traffic =D. Some may argue that today's routers are just as reliable as the WRT54G running on 3rd party firmware, but there aren't many of them.. Most of them don't even support QoS yet and they can't do neat things like let you build a Wireless Distribution System, running your own wifi hotspot, or how about just having a fancy GUI? There's much much more... it's runs Linux!! There's even hard(ware) mods that have installed SD cards into the router. The more space Linux has, the merrier!
So what have I done with my WRT54G? First off, web browsing get premium priority... while my torrents can wait... and throttle down a bit when there's http traffic.. but throttle up again when there's no web browsing traffic! VOIP! Skype to Skype and Skypeout calls get premium priority as well, no more studdering from all the P2P traffic my PC's doing... so no need to manually throttle down my torrents when I'm making a call. In fact, no throttling down at all since Skype doesn't need much bandwidth, just some good timing. Hm.. what else.. WDS, yes, I've got 2~ WRT54Gs! Since I've got an Xbox360 downstairs and I don't want to spend $130 + tax on the wireless adapter, I can just simply build a WDS with the 2 routers - have the 1st router as the main router, it connects to the DSL modem and PCs, while the 2nd router can act as a wireless repeater to boost signal strength throughout the house and allows me to connect to Xbox Live via an ethernet cable. If you don't get it, the point of this is to have a wireless router act like a regular wireless router except it doesn't have to connect to the DSL modem via an ethernet cable. All that's hooked up to the 2nd router now is just the power adapter and an ethernet cable that connects to the Xbox 360. You can even roam without having to lose your live connection as you roam from one router to the other..! As a bonus, dd-wrt supports DNS service. I've got the address deepblade.getmyip.com so now I don't have to worry about my dynamic ip address ever again.
Neat stuff. 802.11n is just around the corner, but do we 'really' need such high speeds? Eventually, yes, but at the moment? I dont' think so.. Broadband speeds for the masses in Canada haven't even gone over 10mps when we've got 802.11g routers which are 54mbps.
Hopefully my WRT54Gs won't be obsolete until many many years from now.