Tuesday, March 11, 2008

OpenWrt for Wireless Access Points


OpenWrt as the name suggests is open source i.e. the source code is available for free, it has no subscription fee and there are no commercial versions with extra features. It is a GPL (GNU General Public License) Linux distribution for wireless routers. OpenWrt is designed to be customizable and modular so that new features can be added as modules in the forms of packages. Instead of trying to cram every possible feature into one firmware, OpenWrt provides only a minimal firmware with support for add-on packages. For users this means the ability to custom tune features, removing unwanted packages to make room for other packages and for developers this means being able to focus on packages without having to test and release an entire firmware. OpenWrt primarily uses a command-line interface, but also features an optional web-based GUI interface. Technical support is provided through the forums and IRC channel.


There are two versions of OpenWrt

  1. whiterussian

  2. kamikaze

whiterussian is the older, more properly documented and the more stable of the two but its development ha stopped since February 2007. Whereas kamikaze is the newer version with a different design that supports a wide range of devices. Currently it supports devices from more than 75 manufacturers that include MikroTik's RouterBoards, LinkSys, D-Link, 3COM, Asus, Dell, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Philips, Siemens, Toshiba and the list goes on. It has a new kernel and is stable but work is in progress.


The biggest change is probably the addition of webif, the Web-based Admin Console that lets you install and remove packages with a click or two. There are more applications available for OpenWrt almost every day. in addition to webif, OpenWrt has a fully writable JFFS2 file system, which allows for package management via the ipkg package system. This makes OpenWrt very versatile and adaptable to any particular situation. You can add new packages. Supports all networking and security stuff like VPN, firewall, DHCP, VLANs, WPA encryption, iptables etc.


With OpenWrt, friendly and helpful volunteers have created a powerful and fun Linux system that replaces the default Linksys firmware. You can use OpenWrt to implement everything from programmable VLANs to intrusion detection on a compact, fan-less box. With OpenWrt, you will be amazed at what free software is up to these days.

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