Last night I was able to get a newly purchased Buffalo WHR-G300N wifi router ($35 from Newegg.com) to accept a firmware install DD-WRT, the Linux-based open source firmware package for wireless routers.
Why even attempt this perversity? It gives you a very cheap wifi router with the kinds of interface features you might only see built into either commercial or premium units.
- This wasn't really what I'd consider a straightforward or user-friendly process. I definitely thought at one point that I'd bricked the unit. Eventually I got it working, but I'm not sure I could say with 100% certainty I could do it again without bricking a unit.
- Before you start, read the DD-WRT wiki page for this router, and the threads linked to it. (I did not.) It will save you some tears, although it won't make it completely easy.
- All I can say about setup is, keep trying. I finally succeeded by pushing the firmware from my Mac using tftp during the router's boot sequence, which takes advantage of the device's built-in recovery method. Once the "put" had finished, it took a while, but the wifi light went on and things were good from there.
- The WHR-G300N only does 2.4Ghz, not 5Ghz. Given that it costs about $35, half the price of a retail 802.11g router, it's not a huge disappointment.
- The DD-WRT interface is leaps and bounds better than Buffalo's original software. They should just bite the bullet and sell these routers with DD-WRT pre-installed.
- I've had the best results by setting wireless security to WPA2 and TKIP+AES
- Despite some early problems, my iPhone now connects to the router just fine
To give a few examples, the DD-WRT software has built-in support for about a half-dozen dynamic DNS services, QoS management, and you can SSH directly into it if you want a command line. The interface is much more useful and informative than Buffalo's own firmware, or most routers.
Network performance has generally been great. My MacBook backs up every hour to a USB drive connected to my Mac Mini Media Center, and ever since I upgraded from my old G router to this one, that process is fast and reliable.
It certainly doesn't give my favorite router - the Apple Airport with its great management interface, Time Machine support and gigabit ethernet - a run for the money. But it's also about 1/4th the price.
So, it's a little hairy - but if you can get past the setup trials, it's a good deal.