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Netgear Launches Open Source-Friendly Wireless Router

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the market-linksys-chose-to-mostly-ignore dept.

Communications 182

An anonymous reader submits news of Netgear's release of the "open source Wireless-G Router (model WGR614L), enabling Linux developers and enthusiasts to create firmware for specialized applications, and supported by a dedicated open source community. The router supports the most popular open source firmware; Tomato and DD-WRT are available on WGR614L, making it easier for users to develop a wide variety of applications. The router is targeted at people who want custom firmware on their router without worrying about issues, and enjoy the benefits of having an open source wireless router."

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182 comments

What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986127)

Here in 2008, I'm only interested in Free Software-friendly 802.11 N routers. Anybody know of any?

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Insightful)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986163)

I would rather wait till they finalize the spec.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986185)

Holy shit, you mean they haven't even finished the damn thing yet?! I mean, draft-N stuff has been out for years, so I just assumed...

WTF is taking them so long?!

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Insightful)

zolf13 (941799) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986229)

The problem is how to use the same "free" radio frequency (2.4 GHz) both for "b/g" and "n" without interferencing each other.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (4, Funny)

LordEq (63011) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986283)

The problem is how to use the same "free" radio frequency (2.4 GHz) both for "b/g" and "n" without interferencing

* SLAP *

Don't do that.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986439)

What do you propose as the alternative? The amount of spectrum that you can use without having to get a license for your installation is really small.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986455)

I think he was objecting to the word 'interferencing', to which I say: screw you, the language is not yours to control.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Funny)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986545)

Cromulence abounds.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (3, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986973)

Well, that was a very fuckusanct thing to say wasn't it...

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (3, Funny)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987099)

Perhaps, but it's at (+4, Simpsons Reference) right now.

Man: "Well I believe I'll mod that down."
Kang: "Go ahead. Throw your vote away."

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Insightful)

devjj (956776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986501)

802.11n operates on 5Ghz as well.

It's time to start ditching backward compatibility. Every refresh of the 802.11 spec does not have to have backward compatibility. Backward compatibility here just serves to increase the distance between theoretical maximums and actual observed speeds.

I run a dual-router setup on my home network. I've got a Linksys WRT54Gv4 running Tomato alongside an Apple Airport Extreme. The WRT fills the job of router as well as 802.11g (802.11b is turned off) access point, while the AEBN is configured to work as an 802.11n wireless bridge on the 5Ghz band. Actual throughput is far faster on this setup than on a single device serving everything.

I know there are practical reasons for backward compatibility, but we need to get off our love affair with it. Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break. There's no reason why we can't have an abundance of cheap 802.11b/g devices and a separate class of devices for 802.11n. There's no reason one can't run both if one needs both. The convenience offered by a single package just makes it worse for everyone in the long run.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (3, Interesting)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986567)

Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break.

You're kind of missing the point. The claim was that the need for backwards compatibility was part of what was making it so difficult to finalize the standard. If you keep it in enterprise hardware then the problem is still there! You could have two standards, I suppose, one "consumer" standard that makes a clean break and one "enterprise" standard that's backwards compatible, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a standard in the first place.

Personally, my house has a lot of g-only devices, and I'm glad that I can serve everything off a single router.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (2, Funny)

devjj (956776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986707)

The problem is solved by having two radios.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

spymagician (1303515) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987105)

802.11n operates on 5Ghz as well.

I know there are practical reasons for backward compatibility, but we need to get off our love affair with it. Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break.

While I agree with your statement in principle, the unfortunate reality is that the *average* consumer wants both the backward compatibility and low price/cost of ownership. Removing that backward compatibility eliminates any compelling reason for the average consumer to upgrade. John Q. Public doesn't want to have to invest in an entire new network every time he upgrades a single component of that network. So, when he spends that Economic Stimulus check on a new laptop, he makes sure it will connect to his aging WRT54G. It's not that he wouldn't like to take advantage of the -n spec., it's that he doesn't want to spend the extra money to replace the router and all the NICs in his home that don't support it.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987431)

He wouldn't have to upgrade the entire network. That is the point of the GP. He can keep all his old stuff on 802.11g and by an 802.11n access point that plugs into the g router. Voila, everything works.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987201)

"I know there are practical reasons for backward compatibility, but we need to get off our love affair with it. Keep it in enterprise hardware, but for consumers, make a clean break. There's no reason why we can't have an abundance of cheap 802.11b/g devices and a separate class of devices for 802.11n. There's no reason one can't run both if one needs both. The convenience offered by a single package just makes it worse for everyone in the long run."

Honest question here....is there any problem with linux running g and n?

I've not tried to deal with anything but 'b'...and when I started to try to get wireless going with linux..it was a bitch to get things working...and I've not needed to upgrade lately...hell, WEP was something that was hard to do.

I've got a bunch of boxes with 'b' that I finally go going...can I new swap out for the newer g and n cards and they will just work? Not trolling...just wanting some tips on what I might have to change...etc...

TIA

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

macslas'hole (1173441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987845)

I run a dual-router setup on my home network. I've got a Linksys WRT54Gv4 running Tomato alongside an Apple Airport Extreme.

I use a WRT54GL running Tomato (love that QoS for VOIP while torrenting) and an Apple Time Capsule in basically the same setup (802.11b is on for old powerbook). Also works great.

Sir Bedevere And His First Government Contract (1, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986639)

Sir Bedevere: There are ways of making this work:
On days whose name match "\w*a\w", we use the old 11b/g standard.
However, on days whose name match "\w*y", we use 11n.
Govvy: Splendid. You make this all sound so simple. How many Full Time Equivalents will this take to implement?
Sir Bedevere:Three-score and a fortnight, no more.
Govvy: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

Later, Lead Coder Baldric Goes to Sir B. (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986773)

Baldric: Sir Bedevere, there is a flaw in the regular expression used to match 11b/g days. "Saturday" will match early, just "A Minute Past" [blogspot.com] the end of Friday, when we decide which standard is more standard for the day.
Sir Bedevere: Can we use XML?
Baldric: I have a cunning plan. We will use UTF-8, and have our system include SÃturday, instead of Saturday, so that there won't be any ASCII 97 characters except in the penultimate position.
Sir Bedevere: Recall, Baldric, that I hired you away from Edmund Blackadder not to solve problems, but to maintain them. Your fix can go in, but you have to make sure that it ripples through the system and triggers at least twice as many problems, or we won't consume all our FTE.

Re:Later, Lead Coder Baldric Goes to Sir B. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987779)

Holy shit you're not funny. Quit posting.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986445)

Let him say what he wants.

Stop interferencing.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

anwaya (574190) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987571)

The problem is how to use the same "free" radio frequency (2.4 GHz) both for "b/g" and "n" without interferencing

* SLAP *

Seconded.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986425)

I bet they include 801.11n support in the HURD.

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987643)

If the router is open source friendly does it matter if the spec isn't finished? Is the spec going to affect the needed hardware or is it just a software thing?

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986173)

There's still no such thing as an N router. They're all provisional N

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (1)

Tweaker_Phreaker (310297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987009)

All of Linksys's draft n routers can get DD-WRT on them with just a simple firmware flashing. Some of them require you to flash the micro version of the firmware the first time to circumvent the very pathetically flawed signature check, but it's far from as complicated as the WRT54G v5/v6 method is.

open source firmware bricked my router. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987395)

Here in 2008, I'm only interested in Free Software-friendly 802.11 N routers. Anybody know of any?

anyone know how to fix it?

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987855)

Asus WL-500W

Re:What's the point of a new wireless-G one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987887)

Here's the download page for the GPL'ed source for the 802.11N Asus WL-500W:

http://support.asus.com/download/download.aspx?SLanguage=en-us&model=WL-500W

Problems... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986139)

It always seems that whenever a company releases something open-source they have to make at least one component proprietary. As this allows Open-WRT to be installed on it perhaps it is really open, but just about every device that uses something open-source has something that makes it hard to install something new on it or they don't use a 100% open source OS (examples, N800, EEE PC, TiVo, etc)

Re:Problems... (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987171)

Well, in some cases its to protect DRM systems, like TiVo.

Probably similar problems with phones, they have to lock phones to a provider somehow with the ones that are subsidized.

Nasty bugs in both DDWRT & Tomato (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986147)

I have two WRT54GL, having spiritually bought into the whole "open source aftermarket firmware" thing.

DDWRT has a long-standing bug/issue where it drops all the settings on poweroff for SOME people SOME of the time. Its not a problem until it happens to YOU. Devs don't seem interested in fixing it, but its the only aftermarket firmware with the issue.

I like Tomato, and am using it now. However, I have several devices that won't connect to it. Weird, huh? Tried other firmwares & other situations, only Tomato gives me problems.

I'm gonna try X-wrt next.

I like the momentum & featureset of DDWRT the most, but if it doesn't work, it doesn't work....

Re:Nasty bugs in both DDWRT & Tomato (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986637)

Maybe you should try the working firmware that I imagine comes with the box? It was probably written by people who know the hardware and actually have to support the stuff - likely it doesn't have the problems the Tomato and DDWRT versions have. After all, a device like (for most people) is just an appliance. Plug it in, set it up and let it run. No need to jack with it.

Wonderful! (2, Funny)

Nethead (1563) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986159)

Now we can use vastly superior ROT13 encryption instead of that lame WEP stuff.

Losing Marketshare to Linksys (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986165)

So they finally decided to stop handing the Linux tweakable router market to Linksys/Cisco, huh? Let's see, how long did that take?

According to Wikipedia, Linksys cut hardware back on their routers and released the hackable WRT54GL in 2005. So they've done nothing but ignore this market for nearly 4 years.

Took someone else long enough.

Older hardware is cheaper, its on the shelf (4, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986257)

Netgear doesn't make money on firmware. They make money selling routers. So if this sells more routers, then fine. But don't look to them to start cannibalizing their sales of Super-G, MiMo or N routers to sell more older on the shelf gear. 614 routers are themselves, fairly old probably as old internally as Linksys open routers. All they did was tweak the gear slightly in light of cheaper hardware now vs 3 years ago.

BTW, I LOVED my 624v3 Super-G Netgear router, for the 12 months it lasted. Then last month the wireless piece of it conked out. I replaced it with an 824v2 with all internal diversity antennas so the fact that Netgear cheaped out and never built replaceable antenna couplings is moot.

Re:Older hardware is cheaper, its on the shelf (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986289)

Netgear doesn't make money on firmware. They make money selling routers. So if this sells more routers, then fine.

What about companies that sell two versions of the same hardware, charging more for the one with uncrippled software? They hate for people to be able to put software sometimes better than even the uncrippled software on them.

Re:Older hardware is cheaper, its on the shelf (4, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987075)

Yeah but with routers it's a straight trade off between RAM and ROM size and manufacturing cost. I bet Netgear and Linksys have or had warehouses full of these older G routers or, they had very long job contracts with Solectron and similar spec manufacturing companies. They have to use the inventory or the production runs and it's probably cheaper to tweak the hardware a little bit to accommodate Tomato etc than it is to write off the bulk of it. And, if all goes well they instill a little goodwill with the hobby community and get a peak into some of the requested features they don' deliver.

Hell, if they play their cards right, commodity routers could all be sold w/o any firmware at all and Netgear and Linksys could save dollars (or Yuan) not having to develop it or support it all. I've often wondered why they would even bother creating v1, v2, v3 and so on of what is essentially the same hardware with the same features and performance if they didn't have to worry about hardware requirements versioning.

Re:Losing Marketshare to Linksys (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986339)

Because nobody wants to waste money launching a product for freaks that dwell at their moms' basements, like all Linux users are...

Re:Losing Marketshare to Linksys (5, Informative)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987115)

Dude, Linksys routers were SHIPPED with linux originally back in 2002. Yes, the "L" version came out in 2005, the only reason there is an "L" version is because after v3 of the WRT54G, Linksys removed 1/2 the memory and switched to a proprietary firemware and not open source because they were threatened with lawsuits due to the original versions and not fully complying at first with release of the source code. They felt they had given up too many secrets of how their hardware worked when they had to release the source code in compliance with the GPL, and also wanted to cut production costs. The "L" version was really just a WRT54G version 3 hardware, which they then priced a lot higher...

Re:Losing Marketshare to Linksys (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987145)

I love that router...and have three running Tomato at home - two configured as bridges. Regardless of what anyone says about Linksys, I'll give them props for coming out with the GL and keeping it out there just for the geeks. They are ROCK solid with Tomato.

I would also love to see the N spec go final...and then see a Tomato-supported N router hit the market. G is getting a little long in the tooth to stream video in my place.

no USB? (1, Interesting)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986205)

Come on, guys, put four USB ports on there and then we're talking. Without it, it's really limited.

Re:no USB? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986221)

and only 16 MB ram. I can't find the CPU specs.

Re:no USB? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986377)

The high-performance WGR614L, which is "Works with Windows Vista" certified, features a 240 MHz MIPS32 CPU core with 16 KB of instruction cache, 16 KB of data cache, 1 KB of pre-fetch cache, and incorporates 4 MB of flash memory and 16 MB of RAM. In addition to an external 2 dBi antenna, the WGR614L integrates a second internal diversity antenna to provide enhanced performance and range.

Too little memory! No USB ports! (1)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987455)

incorporates 4 MB of flash memory and 16 MB of RAM.

The problem I have with my WRT54G hardware version 4 is the lack of storage space. It has 4MB of flash memory for the system files as well as for storing my photos and webpages. 4MB of flash is clearly insufficient.

To make matters worse, there are no USB ports available for connecting external USB storage devices as secondary storage. Argh!

Then I saw this Slashdot article. I thought, "this could be it!" To my disappointment, this is just as (in-)capable as my current box. Sigh.

There's are two good contenders though... Asus WL-500G [asus.com] and Asus WL-500G Deluxe [asus.com].

Re:no USB? (3, Insightful)

Nossie (753694) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986285)

and no gigabit ethernet? wake me up when I can get a netgear adsl wireless n+ router with fricking gigabit ethernet!

open source or not I'd buy it :(

Re:no USB? (1, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986327)

What? And no PCIe? Please. No SATA???? What do they think it is? A frikkin accesspoint or something?

Re:no USB? (0, Redundant)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986505)

And no decent graphics chipset, not even a GMA950! Given the fact that AMD is now actively contributing to the OSS Radeon drivers, there's no excuse for not building an HD4850 into the router.

Re:no USB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986475)

Less space than a Nomad? Fuck these guys.

Re:no USB? (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986581)

Is this some kind of joke? What the hell do you need USB for? The only thing a wireless access point and router needs is 1) an input ethernet port, for connecting to your cable/DSL modem, 2) 4 output ethernet ports, for connecting to your wired machines (including printer), and 3) antennae for your wireless devices.

I do tend to agree with the other reply to this; any newer router needs gigabit ports on the output. It's pretty annoying that all my machines have GbE, but can only talk to each other at 100 Mb/s because of the router they're connected through (which admittedly is an older model). If Netgear or someone else released an open-source-friendly wireless router with 802.1n and GbE ports for the internal network, that would probably be attractive enough to me to decide to upgrade from my current D-Link. As it is, just being open-source-friendly isn't quite enough to get me to upgrade; as long as my current router works, I don't have much to complain about. Unfortunately, my D-Link barely works right: I'm unable to upgrade the firmware to the newer versions, because then it won't allow wirelessly-connected devices to access my JetDirect-connected HP printer. I've emailed D-Link about it and they don't care.

Re:no USB? (5, Insightful)

LarsG (31008) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986657)

What the hell do you need USB for?

If it had 802.11n and a 4-port GigE switch I wouldn't complain, but the current hardware spec on this thing makes it just a clone of the good old wrt54gl. It is really nothing new or exciting at all, just a clone of a Linksys product.

Now, with some USB ports you can do all sorts of additional stuff. External harddisks. Printers. Scanners. NAS for your home network. uPnP media server. Network printer/scanner server. Look up all the things people have been using NSLU2s for and then imagine a device that has the capabilities of both the 54GL and the NSLU2.

Re:no USB? (3, Insightful)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986697)

What the hell do you need USB for?

I don't personally, but some people use the USB port on their router to connect a PC to it, so they've been coming that way for years.

I think a more useful feature on this model would be to use a USB port to connect an external USB storage enclosure and turn it into a NAS as a bonus. With a Linux OS, that'd be pretty easy to configure.

Re:no USB? (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987723)

I think a more useful feature on this model would be to use a USB port to connect an external USB storage enclosure and turn it into a NAS as a bonus. With a Linux OS, that'd be pretty easy to configure.


Easy enough to configure, but sure to max-out the low-speed CPU in the router instantly.

Packetizing data at full 100Mbps uses serious CPU time, which this box doesn't have. And if you want any kind of security for the data, like SFTP accesses, just forget the whole thing.

If you want a SAN, grab an old computer. Don't try to force a router into a file server role.

Re:no USB? (3, Informative)

McNally (105243) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987821)

Is this some kind of joke? What the hell do you need USB for?

For just a moment, don't think of it as a router. Think of it as a low-power-consumption custom Linux server with a certain amount of RAM and a certain amount of flash storage. Now think about other options for such a device -- perhaps as a SAMBA file server or a CUPS print server. I'd even like to see it with an audio output so I could hook it to a stereo ala Apple's Aiport Express -- I'm sure someone would soon have a pretty good UPnP media server software project well underway -- but if they don't want to build audio in USB would at least leave it open as an option.

Apple's got several successful products (Time Capsule & Airport Express) that exist in the "wireless access point plus more" realm. A moderately-priced decent-build-quality piece of hardware with fair extension capabilities via open-source firmware has some pretty fascinating potential.

Re:no USB? (4, Informative)

Thrashing Rage (157543) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986745)

Actually there is instructions on their website on how to solder a USB cable to the router. This is shown for recovery purposes.

http://www.myopenrouter.com/article/10341/Recover-Your-WGR614L-Using-a-Serial-Console-Windows/ [myopenrouter.com]

Probably not exactly what you want but, its nice there is already instructions (in case) you brick it.

Re:no USB? (3, Informative)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987275)

That's a serial console. The fact that USB was involved is just a coincidence.

I think they already tried this once... (3, Informative)

DaMoisture (862785) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986265)

The KWGR614 [netgear.com] was the single worst router I have ever used. VPN, chat, P2P, and any other application that required other than port 80 never worked, it liked to drop connections for no reason, and has received not a single firmware update to date. At least Newegg [newegg.com] was nice enough to give me my money back so I could buy a Linksys. The only success it achieved was setting the bar extremely low for this new open source offering.

Re:I think they already tried this once... (4, Funny)

bobbozzo (622815) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986369)

My dad has a Netgear that looks like that; it constantly overheats and completely drops wifi connections (ethernet works fine).

Ventilating it and adding some aluminum fins onto the main chip helped only somewhat.

I wonder, is this new one any better?

Re:I think they already tried this once... (3, Informative)

jchawk (127686) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986471)

I had trouble with my Netgear wireless router... It would work fine for a few days then would stop accepting new connections.

I upgraded to the latest firmware and haven't had any trouble since...

If you haven't already tried, it's probably worth a shot!

Re:I think they already tried this once... (1)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986617)

As with motherboards, this is what you get in the price-is-the-only-factor world of consumer-level computer or network equipment. I install shitloads of these things and every brand is just as inconsistent. In the last year, I have had bad/malfunctioning units from the following:
* Netgear
* D-Link
* Linksys (never again)
* ZyXEL (I used to love them more than life itself)
* Hawking
* Belkin

The fact is that they're all shit and they all have an unacceptable level of bad units.

Re:I think they already tried this once... (1)

radoni (267396) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986559)

I too bought a KWGR614 on the premise that it was open source licensed firmware code. It was like selling a budget level automobile without brakes. "Here, these are the blueprints for everything except the brakes, why don't you design those yourself?"

The default firmware was awful (from a user perspective), and no OpenWRT nor DD-WRT developers are interested in going near its SoC processor. Everything at the time it was released had been based on the Broadcom CPU and Linksys firmware.

We have developers and an interest in Linux-on-wifi-router today because the Linksys firmware is user friendly. This isn't the ground-up approach some Free Software or Linux fantasies are made of. The product would have sold well with or without Linux compatibility. The WRT54G worked well and could be modified, and this fact sold many extra units of product, leading to a new market of firmware-modding buyers.

It's not exactly exciting for Netgear to be releasing this new Linux-friendly product this year. Keep in mind that their last such product was a certifiable failure. This time around they have learned from a past mistake, and promise compatibility with existing "mainstream" firmwares (DD-WRT, Tomato).

What is exciting IMO is that this move further helps to legitimize small Linux-based projects in existing techie business applications. In markets where you depend on products being available 5-10+ years for purchase, shopping for the cheapest / fastest Linux compatible wifi router hardware "flavor of the month" is not an option. The specs of this router are not the important factor here! It is most important that Netgear is offering a long-term product and is accepted by the businesses who rely on repeat purchases, of a Linux-compatible wifi product.

Buffalo anyone? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986347)

Hasn't Buffalo been shipping routers running DD-WRT for the longest time? Shouldn't we be supporting the people who were doing it the longest?

Buffalo is banned in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986365)

Some sort of patent/licensing dispute. I have one, with DD-WRT I installed myself, and it's great. I even made one for my parents to use.

My Buffalo runs BSD (4, Informative)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986823)

I bought a Buffalo wifi router a couple years ago, when Worst Buy has them on clearance for $39. It runs stock firmware, which identifies itself as BSD based. The thing works flawlessly. I wish I had a couple more of them.

Re:Buffalo anyone? (2, Informative)

lscotte (450259) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987683)

Uh, no... Buffalo stopped sales of all their wifi products as of November 2007 due to an injunction against them from Australia. Go Google for it, but you won't be buying a Buffalo wifi router anytime in the near future...

Drop out? (3, Funny)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986401)

OK, I'm not a networking guy. (My nerd credientials fall in biology) but does this mean that my linux box would work better with this router?

Currently the wife's XP laptop will never drop off the wireless. If my Linux laptop is connect they will both drop about once a day. If I turn on my linux desktop which is wired in, the wireless laptops will drop out about once an hour.

Re:Drop out? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987005)

An open source router appeals to people because it is more customizable. They can add QOS, servers, etc. Any router should work fine with Linux, Windows, Mac, BSD, or any other OS that uses BSD-style networking (any modern OS).

Your problem comes from a crappy router. Perhaps a Netgear? They make a lot of crappy routers. About half of router crappiness is from software, and half is from hardware. If a crappy router is open source, you can fix the software part. But you still can't fix the hardware part.

I would recommend you plop $60 on a nice open source router. Perhaps a Linksys WRT54GL. Stay away from Netgear. I've heard good things about Buffalo, but have never actually used them. With the WRT54GL, you probably won't even need to mess with the default firmware, but it's an option. Linksys is pretty good quality.

Re:Drop out? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987199)

You'll need an additional piece of hardware [amazon.com] to iron things out.

N.B.: I'm not a networking guy either. (My nerd credentials fall in fire-fighting.) I hope that hardware helps though. It invariably does for me. ;-)

Tomato and DD-WRT is not open nor free;use openWRT (5, Informative)

viking80 (697716) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986419)

Tomato is not really open source. It is open source except for the UI.
DD-WRT is just a branch of OpenWRT that costs money. It is free for home use however.

Use OpenWRt; It is open and free. If you want simplicity, use X-wrt, which is basically OpenWRT with a web based UI. It does not use the latest version of OpenWRT, but is very stable. It includes a smörgåsbord of modules to add with a simple mouse click.

Re:Tomato and DD-WRT is not open nor free;use open (2, Funny)

feld (980784) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986483)

This is true, but there are modded Tomato firmwares floating about without Jon complaining. I've dontated to his project; I love Tomato. He deserves the right to keep control over the web ui, but I do agree that it detracts from making the firmware as free as it could be.

That's OK, this device isn't open either... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986539)

only some parts - it still uses the precompiled, no-source-code Broadcom binary.

It's also not new, so it's not clear why this is on /. now. It's marketing more than anything.

Re:Tomato and DD-WRT is not open nor free;use open (4, Interesting)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986677)

MOD PARENT UP. I wish I had points. I used to be a rabid fan of DD-WRT, and I still believe it is the best firmware out there for the WRT series routers. However, the project leader (Brainslayer) has recently started to close source certain parts of the project, and it seems he is working to make it unusable in open-source form (i.e. requires proprietary code to function at all). Basically, he's pulling a Sveasoft move here and screwing a great number of the people who donated time and money to make the system work in the first place.

Re:Tomato and DD-WRT is not open nor free;use open (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23987071)

Fork it? Is he violating the GPL? Is there a page about this? I use DD-WRT because it is awesome. I've heard whispers about what you say, but never seen anything concrete on it.

Invalidate warranty? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986487)

Hmmm... " !!!! Opening The Router Housing or Putting In Any Customer
Software on The Router Will Void The Warranty On Your
Router!!!!"

WGR614L Open Source Guide V2 [myopenrouter.com]

What does it mean by open source anyway? Could I install OpenBSD on this thing? I thought broadcom was one of those difficult manufacturers whose stuff had to be reverse engineered because there are no specs? They came around?

Netgear is correcting their screwup (4, Informative)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986549)

Apparently a number of the new WGR614L router boxes got WGR614v9 routers instead.

This page:

WGR614L really a WG614v9? [myopenrouter.com]

talks about it.

May 16, 2008 3:36 PM Sean, I am the Product Line Manager for Wireless Products at NETGEAR and I apologize. Please do send me your contact information and I will send you a WGR614L version out immediately. There had been an issue with one of our distributors and a few V9 versions was shipped out by mistake. We have recalled, but I guess you were one of the unfortunate ones to get a V9. Again, I apologize. My email address is **DELETED** Please do send me your address. Regards -Som Pal Choudhury Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless NETGEAR Inc.

I removed his contact numbers and email address. They're on the page I linked to, and he really doesn't need a slashdot post of his vitals, he's got enough problems right now.

Nice to see Netgear's on the ball.

Apparently Netgear's guy responsible is personally taking care of the problem.

hanzie

Re:Netgear is correcting their screwup (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986765)

My email address is som.choudhury@netgear.com. Please do send me your address.

Regards

-Som Pal Choudhury
Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless
NETGEAR Inc.
Off: 408-367-7884
Cell: 408-910-2936

Netgear rep contact info (3, Informative)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987505)

Can a moderator or two give a +1 informative to the parent of this post, please?

The below contact info was posted by an AC whom I believe to be the Netgear gentleman in question.

Here it is again (because lots of folks will never see an AC post)

My email address is som.choudhury@netgear.com. Please do send me your address. Regards -Som Pal Choudhury Senior Product Line Manager, Advanced Wireless NETGEAR Inc. Off: 408-367-7884 Cell: 408-910-2936

Mr. Choudhury, I recommend registering for an account here and posting. If you don't, someone else will.

Thank you very much for proactively working to fix the problem. It gives me confidence that your company's equipment might be worth trying.

hanzie.

Re:Netgear is correcting their screwup (1)

Aspirax (1316259) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987357)

I am the Jason in that lengthy post. What an ordeal. I am anxious to get my WGR614L routers that according to two of their technical support agents... do not exist!

Dupe! Was previously posted as WRT54GL! ;-p (2, Insightful)

LarsG (31008) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986607)

The specs on this thing is suspiciously similar to the good old WRT54GL. Unless the price is lower, I really don't see what this thing brings to the table.

If it had just included a couple USB ports and upped the ram/flash a little bit, it would have improved the hackability considerably. Look at what people have been able to do with the NSLU2 [nslu2-linux.org]. With these fairly minor changes the WGR614L could supersede both the 54GL and NSLU2.

Re:Dupe! Was previously posted as WRT54GL! ;-p (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987041)

Perhaps because they are all based upon the same reference platform. What? You thought linksys actually had electrical engineers? Silly person.

so, is it cheaper ? (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986841)

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate being given permission to hack the device and having a door left open. But really - if it is not cheaper then what value does netgear place on their own firmware ?

Re:so, is it cheaper ? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987063)

The value of proprietary firmware, assuming that the open source version can do everything the proprietary can do, is 0. If their open source offerings were the same price as the proprietary offerings, would you really choose the proprietary over the open source?

That being said, in a possible future where router manufacturers no longer decide to maintain their own firmwares, routers might be cheaper.

Really? (2, Interesting)

Velorium (1068080) | more than 5 years ago | (#23986853)

About fucking time. Now only if they get some USB dongles out too that have drivers Linux compatible that don't use two to three different chipsets under the same product name. My WG111v2 works great on XP but is terribly hard to get a consistent connection on linux with no open-source drivers (Ubuntu works out of the box but will drop if too many packets come through at a time or something. Seems whenever I do anything data intensive it gets angry with me.)

broadcom firmware? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23986907)

Does it still use broadcom chipset? If so, it is not really open sourced (neither is WRT54GL), since the wireless firmware is totally closed behind the door.

About time... (5, Insightful)

hyc (241590) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987029)

I think they're just acknowledging that they can't write firmware to save their lives. I had a WG602 that would always lock up after a few days of use; the lockups would happen sooner after big ftp/scp sessions. Basically the damn thing had a memory leak. Updating to the latest firmware didn't help; I finally replaced it with a Linksys.

(Oh yeah, and they also promised upgradability to 802.1x WPA when I bought it, and never released a firmware update with WPA support.) AFA I'm concerned, this is the smartest decision they could possibly make. Now they don't have to bother with fake promises of future firmware upgrades, they can just leave it to their customers to upgrade at will. And people buying these routers won't have to put up with buggy firmware without any recourse.

Of course I still think it's too late; I've completely sworn off ever buying Netgear again and have stuck to Linksys...

maybe some kind soul will write an autoconfig api (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987159)

I know it's probably a big fat security risk, but I've always thought it would be great if a router could be auto-configured to open the ports necessary to run an MMOG or other application rather than having to visit a site like port-forward.com.

How about some BSD-based open source routers? (1)

Brett Glass (98525) | more than 5 years ago | (#23987713)

I'd really like to have a turnkey, commercially built router with the security of OpenBSD, NetBSD, or FreeBSD. Given the business-unfriendliness of the latest version of the GPL, why aren't companies like Netgear moving to BSD? Or is it just a matter of time before they do?
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