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Contest For a Better Open-WRT Wireless Router GUI

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the doing-well-by-doing-good dept.

Wireless Networking 217

Reader RoundSparrow sends word of a contest, with big cash prizes, being mounted by a commercial vender of open source Open-WRT routers. You have 10 months to come up with "the most impressive User Interface/Firmware for Ubiquiti's newly released open-source embedded wireless platform, the RouterStation." Entries are required to have open source licensing and will all be released. First prize is $160,000, with four runners-up receiving $10,000. RoundSparrow adds: "Could be built on top of existing X-WRT or LuCI OpenWRT web interfaces. OpenWRT Kamikaze 8.09 was just released. Now is perfect timing for OpenWRT to get some kick-ass interface and usability ideas. I'm not affiliated with the contest vendor."

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X-WRT? (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025519)

What's wrong with X-WRT?

OpenWRT is something you set up, then forget. It doesn't need "themes" or "skins", or 3d effects. This is not "pimp my router".

Re:X-WRT? (5, Funny)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025615)

hmm, Crysis with 60 fps on a Beowulf cluster of OpenWRT routers?

[bye karma, I will miss you :)]

Re:X-WRT? (5, Insightful)

DougBTX (1260312) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025655)

This isn't a theme competition, it's a user interface competition - usability counts much more than the style of the buttons.

Re:X-WRT? (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025999)

This isn't a theme competition, it's a user interface competition - usability counts much more than the style of the buttons.

Also, it's a genious move. When the clients are released, you'll have plenty to choose from. Also, being open source. you can merge the best bits of all the clients into one really good one.

Whoever came up with this idea should get a massive pay rise.

BTW, we could adopt the methodology in other areas too.

Re:X-WRT? (2, Interesting)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026259)

I think we should encourage other companies to join in the contest. Best idea I have is solicit router companies to do $25,000 donations - and allow them to independently judge and reward their own winner.

That way maybe someone who didn't make the top place could get a chance at another income boost. Would supplement the interest in people fearful of not making 1st place.

Also note that a single person can enter more than ONE entry - so if they come up with different design cocepts - they don't have to choose.

Re:X-WRT? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026615)

I've always like the idea of putting bounties on cool projects. Keeping all contributions open source is an even better way to do it.

Re:X-WRT? (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026735)

You are assuming that good ideas are harder than good integration.

More and more, I don't think so.

Re:X-WRT? (2, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025657)

And an interface-less interface would be absolutely ideal in my view. Problem is that the WiFi specs are botched and that makes it hard to do a good job of a UI. The way I would do the UI for WiFi (and I describe how to do this in detail in my book) is to generate a self signed cert for every WiFi device during manufacture. Then I would put the fingerprint of the cert onto the case. When a device tries to connect there are two modes 'guest' and 'permanent'. Guest mode is optional and allows a device to connect for a time set by the owner after which they have to wait for a while (e.g. get 24 hours access then have to wait a week). Permanent mode is as it suggests, permanent. Once the association is set up the router remembers it. No more stupid passwords that OS/X or Windows manage to forget. The first association is set up as administrator mode automatically. Further permanent associations can be approved by a machine with an administrator association. This sounds complex but the practical effect would be that instead of having to remember a password you simply need to accept or reject requests to connect. Oh and the association mode has a means to verify that the connection succeeded. So no having to re-enter the access data because the UI is borked.

Re:X-WRT? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026423)

How do you nullify and change that cert? If the answer is "you don't", then how do you deal with someone breaking that cert (either through cryptanaylisis or getting access to the machine)?

OTOH, do you really need to secure wireless networks at all [schneier.com] ?

Re:X-WRT? (4, Funny)

Poltras (680608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025669)

This is not "pimp my router".

Yo Dawg! I heard you liked security, so I put a WPA2 in your WRT so you can feel safe whenever you browse porn!

Re:X-WRT? (0, Redundant)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025787)

Yo dawg! I heard you was smoking, so I put a bong in your thong so you can smoke while you smoke!

Re:X-WRT? (3, Informative)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025755)

Noting wrong with X-WRT, I use it. The OpenWRT developers recently choose LuCI as default for Kamikaze 8.09 release.

I also forgot to mention there are other up to date alternate such as Gargoyle http://www.gargoyle-router.com/ [gargoyle-router.com] that is GPL license and could be uses as basis for contest entry.

You can view this as fit and finish challenge - but will you win the contest if you put the least effort in?

Re:X-WRT? (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025759)

"This is not "pimp my router"."

If enough customers will spend sweet, sweet monies on a pimped router there is every reason to give them that option.

Slashdot has already provided a suitably artful theme:

http://armish.linux-sevenler.org/blog/wp-content/pembeslash.jpg [linux-sevenler.org]

Re:X-WRT? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026119)

It doesn't have to be though.

I have a flakey internet connection to a very small ISP. I find the status pages on Tomato's default install to be very useful.

Graphs of network usage based on QoS classification helps you tell what is using your network at a glance. Theres a lot of work that could be put into areas like that that make your router not somethin you set and forget.

It also doesn't have to be a self contained gui (i assume, didn't read the contest rules).

I certainly think theres a market for pretty desktop apps to both configure and monitor your router, letting you see network utilization and what all is connected to your router.

Re:X-WRT? (0, Troll)

pz (113803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026285)

What's wrong with X-WRT?

OpenWRT is something you set up, then forget. It doesn't need "themes" or "skins", or 3d effects. This is not "pimp my router".

Regrettably, it sounds like the contest is, exactly, Pimp My Route. And, as you point out, that sort of endeavor is a waste of time. I have spent perhaps a total of 10 minutes, cumulatively, with a router interface of one form or another. None was so horrible that it had me cursing or pulling my hair in frustration. Bang, set up, done. Polishing usability for something that is rarely used and for which a decent interface already exists? Utter waste of time.

My laboratory is working on treatments for blindness to restore vision. I could put that $200,000 to good use (and with a tax deduction for the company, too, since I work for a university hospital). And the CPU-months that will be spent? SETI@home, or any other distributed cpu-intensive project could use the cycles.

Re:X-WRT? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026339)

How terrible for you that someone spends money on what matters to them instead of what matters to you. These guys deserve better than your blinkered dismissal.

The sponsors and the OpenWRT team in general are people who care about use of low-footprint routers in much more complex circumstances than the average Joe's SOHO router. They deploy huge meshes of routers and manage them as a service, sometimes as cooperatives and sometimes as full-blown commercial endeavors.

It is great to see these self-funding OSS communities prove that there are ways to make a living without adopting draconian licensing schemes and FUD.

Re:X-WRT? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026665)

My company is working on a serum to get you to shut the fuck up.

Clearly we have our work cut out for us.

Re:PMR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026321)

Pimp My Router.... that's an awesome idea

Re:X-WRT? (1)

RazzleDazzle (442937) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026483)

This is not "pimp my router".

No, but this PIMP MY INFRASTRUCTURE [youtube.com]

Modern Linux hackable routers, 802.11n support (5, Informative)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025553)

Other OpenWRT news. The newest Atheros 9xxx radio chips is available in a number of OpenWRT supported routers now. I have been working to help organize new 802.11n support in OpenWRT. I have compiled a list of consumer routers that work with Linux ath9k driver and ar71xx CPU. In order of current recommendation:

Planex (PCI) MZK-W04NU, 32MB RAM and 8MB flash, USB port, 10/100 Ethernet
Trendnet TEW-652BRP, 32MB RAM and 4MB flash, 10/100 Ethernet
Trendnet TEW-632BRP, 32MB RAM and 4MB flash, 10/100 Ethernet
D-Link DIR-615 revision C1 (ONLY!), 32MB of RAM and 4MB flash, 10/100 Ethernet
TP-Link TL-WR941N WR941ND, 32MB RAM and 4MB flash, 10/100 Ethernet

OpenWRT team is pretty close also on the Netgear WNR2000.

These listed above all come from a common Atheros AP81 reference platform. see http://wiki.openwrt.org/AtherosAR9100 [openwrt.org]

In USA and Japan, the Planex is available on Amazon.com for $59.99 with free shipping... it has more flash and USB port. 3 removable antennas, is a nice hacker system. In the USA, the Trendnet routers have been on sale from Newegg, Fry's, buy.com for only $25 a few times. I will try to post on Reddit / my Slashdot journal when I see them on sale for $25 next time.

The ath9k driver for Linux is not yet mature but is moving along... in 2 to 3 months I expect we have a very nice platform... and the router interface and ease of use of OpenWRT is getting attention with this contest! Now is an exciting time for OpenWRT and Linux routers - finally moving to some new N devices.

AND NOW A JOKE (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025631)

Q: How do you stop five niggers from raping a white woman?
A: Throw 'em a basketball.

Maybe black ppl dont know this but basketball was invented by a white man.

Re:AND NOW A JOKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025721)

Fail, you stole that from Full Metal Jacket, what an uncreative dumbass..

Re:Modern Linux hackable routers, 802.11n support (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025771)

Damn you.

The day after I spend $90 on an Asus wl-500w you post this list.

I wish it even came up when looking for a list of similar. The only one I could find info on was the 500w.

Any support for USB Modems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026255)

I'd like to find an affordable (US$80)router to use my Merlin V640 ExpressCard EVDO modem. I have a USB adapter for it that works, so other than the Kyocera KR2 Mobile Router (now $188) and similar, do I have more choices?

Modern Rosewill hackable routers, 802.11n support (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026377)

You don't have openfirmware for this [newegg.com] * router.

*Clue: This is a house brand.

needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025561)

should work as easy as a personal firewall

not everyone can understand or spend the time to learn iptables

Re:needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025845)

not everyone can understand or spend the time to learn iptables

Not everyone should be administering a network either. Any literate adult meets all of the requirements necessary to learn how to do so but there are plenty of people who should not perform this task. The system is self-correcting however; the ones who shouldn't have done so are the ones who have most of the problems. If you a) don't know how to properly do something and b) refuse to learn how to properly do it, then it makes sense to ask (or hire) someone else to do it for you.

The people who think that this simple observation somehow does not apply to them, or that getting pissed off at someone like me who points that out is going to change the reality of the situation, well, I bet they wonder why they have such bad "luck" with these things. You attempted something that you don't actually know how to do and experienced undesired results; what a surprise, it must have been those evil elitist geeks! Seriously though it's amazing how upset people get sometimes when you dare to suggest that there are tasks which require a bit of skill and that doing them without that bit of skill can cause problems. You'd think that this were some kind of highly controversial position for which there was no conclusive evidence.

To more directly answer your post, I think iptables itself is rather irrelevant. The story is about a router GUI, which would probably be a front-end to iptables. There are some very nice GUI tools available for iptables; if Open-WRT's offerings are on a par with them, then they would provide a way to edit firewall rules that's about as easy as it's going to get. I do think that a firewall is one of those few applications where there is some inherent complexity that cannot be made much simpler without severely compromising the device. It's like that Albert Einstein quote (paraphrase): "Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."

For that reason, I question the type of "easy to use" to which you refer. If you have a solid working knowledge of TCP/IP, then you should be able to handle any firewall and "easy to use" would mean automating what can be automated to save you some keystrokes and to avoid some unnecessary tedium. If you don't have a solid working knowledge of TCP/IP, it would probably mean dumbing things down to make up for your lack of understanding, which of course would result in a less thorough or a less accurate configuration.

Given the security issues that can arise from a misconfigured firewall, I would suggest that this is one area where enabling people who don't really understand what they're doing is asking for trouble. You're not really doing the less-knowledgable any favors by setting up a situation, in the name of convenience, where they are likely to have problems that they won't know how to solve. The good news is that there is abundant documentation on both TCP/IP and iptables, so anyone who is interested and motivated can easily learn how they work.

Re:needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025993)

If you a) don't know how to properly do something and b) refuse to learn how to properly do it, then it makes sense to ask (or hire) someone else to do it for you.

This is something I've never entirely understood about computing. Why should it be easy for someone with no knowledge of computers be easy to do relatively complex tasks, like a complex OS install or configuring a firewall?

Most people are too terrified to open the bonnet of their car to check the oil, and rely on paying someone to fix it when it breaks. Yet most people physically capable of driving a car would be able to check the oil and top it up correctly. A sizeable subset of these people could change the oil correctly, with a simple guide, but they still choose to spend money getting someone to do it for them. Why not spend money on getting someone to set your network up properly?

Re:needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (2, Insightful)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026179)

I think that most people choose to pay others to change their oil because, for new cars, it may be covered by a service contract they signed, and changing the oil themselves may affect the warranty. Aside from that, their time and cleanliness may be more valuable to them than the money spent for the service or the equipment (jack stands / ramps) to to it safely.

Re:needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (0, Redundant)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026353)

If you a) don't know how to properly do something and b) refuse to learn how to properly do it, then it makes sense to ask (or hire) someone else to do it for you.

This is something I've never entirely understood about computing. Why should it be easy for someone with no knowledge of computers be easy to do relatively complex tasks, like a complex OS install or configuring a firewall?

Most people are too terrified to open the bonnet of their car to check the oil, and rely on paying someone to fix it when it breaks. Yet most people physically capable of driving a car would be able to check the oil and top it up correctly. A sizeable subset of these people could change the oil correctly, with a simple guide, but they still choose to spend money getting someone to do it for them. Why not spend money on getting someone to set your network up properly?

That's what gets me about this whole thing. So many users want to perform tasks they don't understand and they want this to have good results each time. No matter how kindly you tell them that this is unrealistic, they get upset and accuse you of being an "elitist" or they give you some crap about how "not everyone can be an expert" even when the bit of knowledge they would need in their specific case is a far cry from being an "expert". At the same time, they don't apply these unrealistic expectations to any other domain, as you have explained in your discussion about automobile maintainence. On top of this, computer and networking knowledge is very easy to find; the information is out there and readily available to anyone who wants to study it. In fact, I can't think of any other industry involving complex machinery or skilled labor that has anything approaching the wealth of freely available information and step-by-step guides that can be found for computing.

It's hard not to see these things and view those users as a bunch of spoiled children. I don't want to view them that way, I take no pleasure in it at all, but sometimes they seem to want me to do so. Certainly they act the part, and it's unfortunate because they could put that effort towards overcoming these challenges. Saying "this is how I learned and you are able to do the same" is a statement of equality, not elitism. It seems like it is only in computing that a person resents you for trying to teach him how to fish so that he can take care of his own needs and praises you for giving him a fish so he never gains his own understanding. Of course helping someone out is one thing, but I don't feel like I am really doing a person any favor if I encourage them to have a needless dependency on me for easy answers. I think that needless dependency is what we cultivate when we just hand out easy answers without explaining why something works or why it's the right answer and encouraging the person to develop their own understanding.

Re:needs an easy way to edit firewall rules (3, Interesting)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026741)

You sure can make firewalling stuff easier. You just have to think a bit outside of what is the norm. We have lots of computing power these days and your router can play games that were previously impossible.

1) If your router is also a switch/hub, it can analyze the internal network traffic and learn computer names (if windows file sharing is enabled anyway).

2) It can tap the internet to look up stuff like mac addresses and other statistical traffic patterns to identify things like your Tivo or XBox.

3) You can invent an internal protocol that enables your household computers and devices to communicate to the router what the fuck they are. Odds are good you can use fancy crypto to make sure that the computers and devices can't lie if they get compromised.

4) Make a training mode that lets everything go through and when you are done, the router uses the wealth of statistical bullshit it collected in steps 1->3 to give the user a report outlining the househouse hold traffic.

5) The user can then "lock" the router and not let anything but what was configured in #4

6) If something odd happens, or the router detects new computers (say a laptop, etc). The magic protocol in step 2 would send some kind of alert to a computer, your email, your phone... something... basically saying "hey man, something changed... you might have to retrain me".

My idea, obviously, is a very crude outline. But you get the idea. Everything can be simplified if you focus in on exactly what the task at hand is and leave the rest of the bullshit out. In fact, I bet you can design the firewall configuration in such a way that the user never needs to see IP addresses or port numbers. All they see is friendly computer names (deduced from #1->#3) and descriptions of the traffic.

Nerds, obviously, wouldn't like this--instead wanting some geeky bullshit. But they can piss up a rope as far as I'm concerned. This is a mass market device intended for people who just want to feel secure that nobody is hacking their shit.

I have a suggestion ... (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025565)

Tomato [polarcloud.com] for the win!

Re:I have a suggestion ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025585)

Tomato is garbage. OpenWrt is a full featured Linux distro.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (3, Insightful)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026117)

Care to make an argument, dear AC?

I second the GP poster. Tomato rocks. Clean interface, lots of functionality, good documentation.

I've been many times at the OpenWrt. It sure looks like a full featured linux dist, but they sure forgot to put clear simple instructions to get my router running it. They seem to try to be so many things that they forgot to cater to, what seems to me to be, their most plentiful potential users: Linux users that would like to run OpenWrt in a router.

No, I don't want to edit /etc/network files, I want a simple GUI that does the job.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026253)

Sure Tomato is nice - as long as you can still get hardware for it.

Sure OpenWrt may lack documentation or tries to do too much stuff at once, but right now it's the only fucking router distro that makes actual progress besides tuning the ui.

DD-Wrt, Tomato, CoovaAP etc. are all stuck with binary drivers that require an ancient kernel to operate them and more and more devices that are supported by this software are already end of life or will be soon.

The point of the challange this article is to make a user friendly interface for OpenWrt (besides the three projects already working on it). If Tomato satisfies your need - fine, but if you rely an modern hardware you're out of luck. And at some point it makes more sense to spend 25$ for a cheap-ass Draft-N device with gigabit instead of being stuck with ancient Broadcom gear for 60+$ just to install Tomato.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026647)

Sure Tomato is nice - as long as you can still get hardware for it.

Well, Tomato is a GPL'ed product, so you could take it and update it if you wanted to. But that's not the point. I was just noting that Tomato is an excellent example of a clean, minimalist GUI. He puts in a fair amount of glitz, true, but it's not gratuitious. And, since this contest is all about the user interface, that seemed appropriate.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025589)

Too bad it still doesn't support ipv6 properly. But personally, I love Tomato. I have bought a WRTGL router because of my problems with other routers(very crappy firmware) and tomato runs like a sunshine with options that I didn't even comprehend would benefit me.

It's simply another case of FLOSS to the rescue.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (0)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025643)

Personally, I don't have enough computers at home to need ipv6.

Tomato is 99% of the way there on the UI - but there are still a few unexplained/under-documented check boxes and settings.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026023)

I don't think anyone here has enough computers at home to need IPv6. I mean, if you have more than 253(*) computers in your house, you have more problems than needing IPv6.

(*) Number of possible nodes on a Class C subnet minus the router itself.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026397)

I don't think anyone here has enough computers at home to need IPv6. I mean, if you have more than 253(*) computers in your house, you have more problems than needing IPv6.

(*) Number of possible nodes on a Class C subnet minus the router itself.

The only reason I could see myself having to move to IPV6 would be if my ISP forces me to.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026113)

IPv6 has some really nice features. I have deployed IPv6 on my networks (6to4 rules!) and now I can SSH into _any_ computer from _any_ computer - all computers have public IPv6 addresses.

Additionally, reverse 6to4 provides fully automatic reverse DNS delegation.

All for free.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026773)

Indeed, and it is too bad that it isn't supported out of the box. Not only that, the optional IPv6 packages don't appear to work at all for 6to4 or static tunnels. (That is after you manage to track down the various required packages that aren't explicitly specified as dependencies, nor documented anywhere.)

Re:I have a suggestion ... (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026335)

I don't have enough computers at home to need ipv4 either but that's included.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026391)

Tomato is 99% of the way there on the UI

I agree. However, that makes it better than 99% of the open source offerings out there, and 100% better than the commercial firmware offerings from the likes of Linksys. I mean, there's a reason that Tomato is so popular.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (2, Interesting)

Temkin (112574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026409)

Personally, I don't have enough computers at home to need ipv6.

I take it you're not developing software that needs to support IPv6 either.

Tomato is great, but I need/want IPv6 autoconfig on my home net. A spare Cisco 1700 handles this nicely. One of these days when I have some spare time, I'll get a v6 tunnel set up on it.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025595)

Bah... shiny gui painted over an ancient half-proprietary sdk pulled straight out of the stone age and limited to a few broadcom based router platforms.

Fine for the typical end user but not exactly suitable for many of current devices.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026421)

Bah... shiny gui painted over an ancient half-proprietary sdk pulled straight out of the stone age and limited to a few broadcom based router platforms.

Fine for the typical end user but not exactly suitable for many of current devices.

Sure, but this contest appears to be all about the GUI ... and how do you define "the typical end user"?

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

joel48 (103238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025997)

Sure, Tomato is simple and pretty looking. Apart from the IPv6 issues mentioned by others, the biggest issue for me with Tomato is that it doesn't support VLANs on Broadcom hardware. OpenWRT and DD-WRT both support them, and OpenWRT is really open, so I use that. The live statistics graphs and such in Tomato have an equivalent package in OpenWRT.

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026123)

So why don't the guys who make Tomato port their UI over to OpenWRT and enter it in contest?

Re:I have a suggestion ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026411)

So why don't the guys who make Tomato port their UI over to OpenWRT and enter it in contest?

Actually, it's one guy. He was heavily involved in a number of other open-source alternate firmware packages, before coming up with Tomato.

Why not GbE? (0, Offtopic)

manyxcxi (1037382) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025569)

I mean seriously... you're putting out a new product... why not put in gigabit lan ports?

Slashdot Editor: OpenWRT not Open-WRT (4, Interesting)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025587)

You guys altered the name to Open-WRT :) Anyway, thanks for spreading the world on this and Kamikaze 8.09 release. the OpenWRT devs work hard.

Re:Slashdot Editor: OpenWRT not Open-WRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025637)

OpenWrt is the correct name, but I digress..

Please.... (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025613)

Oh god no.....no Web 2.0 Crap. the router GUI is supposed to be fast, small, and compatible with EVERYTHING.

DDWRT has a problem with Firefox on the latest builds because of the stupid Web2.crap to make things more flashy instead of working right.

I am really tired of the "ooh shiny" becoming far more important than functionality lately in both projects.

Re:Please.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025673)

You did noticed that OpenWrt's new gui is xhtml 1.0 conform, works even with disabled javascript and is actually pretty fast - even on devices like the Fonera? Can't see any specific web 2.0 hype on the OpenWrt side...

just my two cents.

Re:Please.... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025803)

That's a shame it was sloppily done, but good web2.0 should be faster that traditional reload the whole page.

Now there needs to be a same fall-back that works without it, but just because you want things to be like they were before client computers could do any of the heavy lifting don't think that the rest of us love full page refreshes.

Re:Please.... (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026013)

In theory, yeah.

In practice, I just checked my mail on my phone, saw a slashdot reply notification, and clicked the link. Then stared at the screen in disbelief, as the phone showed me that to show me a message maybe 2KB in size it had to download 1MB worth of crap.

Reloading the page is something that takes a very small fraction of a second, when the server isn't doing any heavy lifting, and the page doesn't have half a megabyte of javascript.

And a much larger amount of devices can show that simple page. The router interface shouldn't be flashy. It should be neat and simple, something you could deal with from a cell phone if it was needed in an emergency. I can't tell you how much I hate the websites of various device manufacturers that require hunting the link for the drivers download in the source, because the only available browser I had was lynx, and the link is impossible to find in it.

IMO, don't bother with the flashy stuff. I'll be the one who is going to mess with the router settings, and I want it stable, functional, and usable on all devices. If it prefers form over function I'll go with another product.

Re:Please.... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026307)

I thought emergency remote access (e.g. from a phone) was what ssh was for.

The web interface was for those whome are right there.

the realtime traffic chart in tomato is simply amazing, and is the type of thing impossible in a situation as you mention.

I just changed router to one it doesn't support, but I bet it's interface gracefully degraded to be viewable with anything.

The fact that /. has a crappy interface doesn;t mean that web 2.0 sucks, simply that /. doesn't have the greatest implementation.

And the fact that a phone tries to do more than it is capable of, instead of falling back to earlier techs is not the fault of web 2.0 either.

The tomato firmware is a great interface (though somewhat limited in features compared to OpenWrt).

I think Gmail makes webmail great, and the non Web 2.0 webmails suck, but just as I wouldn't use a web interface to a router on a phone (ssh for that), I wouldn't use a web interface to e-mail on a phone either (e-mail client for that).

In fact, I wouldn't even use a phone web interface to wikipedia, which is fairly non-web2.0 I bet.

On the android at least there is a quickpedia app that is far superior to browsing the site, and it does this using web2.0ish tech.

I would additionally even on a phone, .5MB of JS is no big deal if it is cacheable. I mean, even with an EDGE connection it isn't that much time, and then it is done for good.

Re:Please.... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026493)

I thought emergency remote access (e.g. from a phone) was what ssh was for.

That's with a full keyboard, but plenty phones can render HTML competently and have a standard keyboard. SSH is certainly technically possible, but a pain.

the realtime traffic chart in tomato is simply amazing, and is the type of thing impossible in a situation as you mention.

It's a nice gimmick I guess, but I'd rather have it come preconfigured for easy interfacing with Cacti, then I can make my own, better graphs.

I think Gmail makes webmail great, and the non Web 2.0 webmails suck, but just as I wouldn't use a web interface to a router on a phone (ssh for that), I wouldn't use a web interface to e-mail on a phone either (e-mail client for that).

Meh, I much prefer Mutt and KMail.

Though I dislike anything on the web that requires JavaScript to work. I've got the annoying slashdot junk disabled, and I have a gmail account, but it's redirected to my IMAP server, and I never actually log into the web interface.

Re:Please.... (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025805)

I am really tired of the "ooh shiny" becoming far more important than functionality lately in both projects.

I do netmgt for a living (client and server side, both) and I've turned down jobs that emphasized glitz over actual *needed* functionality.

I still maintain that a simple forms/cgi interface with NO javascript is all you need to get the job done. I wrote an entire NMS on form/cgi (1998 era) and it didn't have 'active stuff' but who the hell cares! the only lacking I had was no dynamic graphs - and I solved that by computing .gifs from the GD library and that had the benefit of being able to do a simple save-as for the graphs!

the requirements for form/cgi is SO simple. even a toaster can support it.

but noooooo. no one wants simple anymore. they want jscript, they want non-bookmarkable pages, they want LAYERS of complex code (job security?) - but they don't want basic, reliable, platform-independant code.

the trend saddens me. netmgt is supposed to be THIN. somewhere, the old school netmgt guys must have all retired or died out and the new ones never learned about the lean-n-mean nature of what netmgt is (used to be) about.

Re:Please.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025975)

CGI doesn't scale well. That's the rest of the world moved away from CGI and forms to J2EE, LAMP, Django, Ruby on Rails, etc. Plus, once you've developed on Django or Ruby on Rails, you'll never go back to traditional models of Web development. You can write applications very, very quickly.

But, I digress. For a router, which won't have sufficient memory to run J2EE, Django, Ruby on Rails, etc., you'll definitely want CGI or maybe mod_perl because upward scalability isn't an issue: you need to shoehorn the thing in as little RAM as possible.

Re:Please.... (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026249)

CGI doesn't scale well.

and since when does netmgt need to support LOTS of concurrent connections?

see, that's my point - unless you know the *problem space*, you are likely to over-engineer the solution.

most netmgt solutions are WAY over-engineered. they are not going to be hit by thousands of clients. likely they'll be polled frequently by a few NMS's and by frequently I mean a few packets of query every 15minutes, TOPS.

you do not need 'scaling' at the client. you just don't for this problem space.

Re:Please.... (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025921)

But that flashy stuff, and the web2.0 is what gets the users, if you don't like it, just use telnet, that'll solve your issues out right wouldn't it ?

If i'm not in the office, and the dsl connection has an issue, it's alot easier to tell someone to click on the red button or green button etc. trying to tell a non tech person a command for iptables or something like that is just outright stupid. I'd rather have the office administrator implementing the rules she puts in place so i can get onto more important thing like protecting the web production environment from the developers.

Re:Please.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026747)

Yes, where are my blinkenlites and jumper cables.

Says who? (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026767)

<blockquote>small</blockquote>
Says who? If it is cheap enough (and energy efficient enough), why not throw a damn Core Duo in the damn thing and use powerful statistical magic to figure shit out?

"Fast and small" for "fast and small"'s sake is old school man. Nobody gives a rats ass about wasting CPU or memory. The computer works for us and what you should really be concerned about is saving *our* CPU cycles and memory--not the computer.

<blockquote>I am really tired of the "ooh shiny" becoming far more important than functionality lately in both projects.</blockquote>
Your definition of "functionality" is too narrow to be of use. If you broaden your definition to include the user experience, "ooh shiny" matters a whole hell of a lot. Contrary to some, presentation matters almost as much, if not more, then your very narrow definition of "functionality".

tomato firmware? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025619)

http://www.polarcloud.com/tomato
So much better than anything else I've found.

quick question (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025659)

interesting contest, but I searched and couldn't find an answer to my biggest questions:

does it run linux?

are there any requirements to use it in a beowulf configuration?

any requirement to be resistant to, and remain working, after having hot grits dumped on it?

should it support QoS by streaming naked photos of natalie portman at top priority?

Re:quick question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025761)

more importantly, what's the website number?

Re:quick question (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026045)

does it run linux?

In Soviet Russia, Linux runs YOU!!!

are there any requirements to use it in a beowulf configuration?

You have to welcome your new OpenWrt-running overlords.

any requirement to be resistant to, and remain working, after having hot grits dumped on it?

No, but I hear pants are still optional, but recommended for you.

should it support QoS by streaming naked photos of natalie portman at top priority?

Only if naked and petrified.

Re:quick question (1)

Eighty7 (1130057) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026381)

I'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet -[SA]HatfulOfHollow

the best routers I have seen (1)

ani23 (899493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025691)

have all used cli

Re:the best routers I have seen (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025717)

Nothing's stopping you from wasting your time, but for the rest of us who don't want to read the manual for hours, we'd rather do all the setup in 10 clicks.

Re:the best routers I have seen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026309)

I know that the rest of you will screw up the routing. Great to know that you'll do that while looking at a pretty GUI though.

Re:the best routers I have seen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026453)

Why would we screw up the routing any more with a GUI than without? Oh wait I'm sorry I took your baseless argument seriously.

Listen numpty, it's not that hard. If you're a serious user you won't screw up the routing regardless of whether there's a GUI or not. If you're not a serious user, then there's basically no routing to be done (3 standard routes for the average home) and I'm assuming OpenWRT is usable enough to set those up automatically.

It is amazing how negative everyone is about this (5, Insightful)

OverZealous.com (721745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025713)

It's not like it's your money! I currently use Tomato on one of my routers. I love the interface. I don't log in very often, mostly to check those fantastic real-time usage stats.

But when I do log in, it is nice to be able to find things quickly. I respect developers who take into account usability and style. In fact, I have basically no respect for those who discount it.

You probably can code circles around me. But in the end, the customer or user only sees the interface. They only see those "useless" graphics, and that "Web 2.0 Crap". Yet, a well designed interface will allow new users to appreciate the product faster, and hopefully keep them around.

Just because the majority of web developers suck at designing "web 2.0" interfaces doesn't mean that the problem lies with the "web 2.0" part. We'd have a lot less technology if we used that metric to measure a tools value.

Re:It is amazing how negative everyone is about th (5, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025851)

In fact, I have basically no respect for those who discount it.

You probably can code circles around me. But in the end, the customer or user only sees the interface.

Actually you've hit on a major problem of programers that we don't like to talk about (well, except me, obviously..). The thing is, GUI design is a complex art, one that takes a long time to learn to do well, so its hard to be good both at visual interfaces and the often very complex code that they control.

I know this from my own work. I'm a pretty good coder (gosh, how modest of me). I can write code to just about anything, and charge a pretty penny to do so, but my ability to code a user interface is rather poor. Sure I know all the theory, but there's something extra you need, that 'eye for the visually pleasing' thats hard to cultivate unless user interfaces are what you do all the time.

I've used plenty of applications where the guy who wrote the backend code also coded the gui, and as a rule the gui is somewhat lacking. This is't just restricted to single coder projects, it also occurs when a project is full of able back end coders, and they build the gui to suit their own level of ability to use the code.

You can see this if you use Emacs. Nice though that software is in features, the interface is godawful, and actively prevents anyone new to computer usage or programing from using it.

Re:It is amazing how negative everyone is about th (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026129)

You can see this if you use Emacs. Nice though that software is in features, the interface is godawful, and actively prevents anyone new to computer usage or programing from using it.

What would you honestly change? 99% of the feature set is packed up in control sequences. If you're using the GUI at all one would have to wonder why you are using Emacs. Vi doesn't even bother.

I understand the point you are making but Emacs is really not the program to pick on because it has a *fantastic* User Interface for programmers--which is the entire point of the program. No your grandma will not be able to point-and-click her way through writing a new database application, but I think that is ok.

As far as "new programmers" go, I would say (i) if they can't easily get through the included Emacs tutorial, programming is probably not going to work out for them (ii) they should not start off in Emacs anyway. Emacs solves a lot of problems but until you've written your first big program you're unlikely to have much appreciation for its features.

Re:It is amazing how negative everyone is about th (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026495)

As far as "new programmers" go, I would say (i) if they can't easily get through the included Emacs tutorial, programming is probably not going to work out for them (ii) they should not start off in Emacs anyway. Emacs solves a lot of problems but until you've written your first big program you're unlikely to have much appreciation for its features.

I get where you're coming from but when I was a post grad teaching first year students my experience was that that they found Emacs to be uncomfortable and used it only when the tutorial sheets required them too. Most of the time the dominant linux text editor in use by students I taught was kwrite.

Re:It is amazing how negative everyone is about th (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026591)

The thing is, GUI design is a complex art, one that takes a long time to learn to do well, so its hard to be good both at visual interfaces and the often very complex code that they control.

You hit the nail on the head. It's an art, and that means that, when all is said and done, it's the guy with the eye who polishes the job. Programmers can follow all the user-interface design rules laid down in the multitude of books on the subject, but if they don't have the touch, what they'll come up with may be functional, but will still look like crap. It's as inevitable as the tide. Good coding can be an art as well ... it is by no means always thus, but some developers do carry their work into the realm of true art.

Look at the history of video game development. Early products were as you describe: often designed by single coders, or maybe a team of coders. That worked, because the hardware was too crude to allow an artist to do much with it, although some companies did hire animators. Blocky programmer-drawn graphics were acceptable because that was about the limit of the equipment. However, as the resolution, color space, and processing power of graphics systems improved, you began to see specialization occur in game development. Much as happened in motion pictures decades before, the evolving complexity of the products demanded an expanding team effort. Designers, coders, artists, animators, level designers, writers, play testers, quality control testers, a whole host of wildly different disciplines are now required to produce a single game.

It's no different in the world of Web development. You need a team, with people capable of handling overall design responsibility, documentation (something coders are notoriously bad at doing), back-end requirements, the GUI, and many others. It's easy for developers who have no talent for user interface work to dismiss such as unnecessary glitz. Understandable, but entirely wrong when talking about software that is marketed or used by the general public (like a Web site.) Furthermore, in the real world people (especially people who write big checks) are impressed by a polished, well-written GUI.

Personally, I've spent almost thirty years in this business, and I started out doing largely embedded-type stuff for the game industry, and eventually got into doing higher-level graphics and artwork. Then I got into manufacturing and control systems, and discovered that users like software that is attractive, not overly-complicated for the problem it purports to solve, and above all does the job. The years I had spent learning graphic techniques paid off handsomely during that time, since my competitors generally couldn't draw their way out of a shoebox.

In any event, I found that while I had successfully worn a number of hats as an application developer over the years, it was getting harder and harder to be a solo act. So, nowadays I'm not, I work with lots of other people, and I've found that my skill set is complementary to many of them. It works out well, if you have a good team.

open source and usability (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025727)

I think the comments so far some up one of the major issues with the open source world and usability. At this point most of the comments are saying "we don't want themes" and "it's fine the way it is". The usability of a device has NOTHING to do with being able to skin it or apply themes. Usability is all about making the device simple for someone with limited knowledge or experience to use. This means things like dimming or disabling options if someone chooses a checkbox for an item that is incompatible those options. If they choose to only run the device as 802.11b (god knows why, but humour me), then don't ask them to set up the security options that only apply to 802.11g and higher. Explain what the options do in plain English. That's what usability is.

Re:open source and usability (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025865)

The usability of a device has NOTHING to do with being able to skin it or apply themes. Usability is all about making the device simple for someone with limited knowledge or experience to use.

The usability of slashdot seems to be in decline, while the reliance on javascript increases. Now maybe there isn't really a causal relationship there, but correlation is enough for many people.

Re:open source and usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27025895)

Yes, bad design and bad usability often go hand in hand. But simply holding up an example of poorly written javascript and css and saying "see, it all sucks" shows that you're still missing the point. That's like saying CmdrTaco and kdawson are bad editors, so all editors of websites are bad. You see the major flaw in thinking there? Just because there are plenty of examples of things done poorly doesn't mean that it has to be done poorly.

Re:open source and usability (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025983)

Why does everyone seem to hate the new interface? I like it, personally.

Re:open source and usability (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025947)

Couldn't agree with your more.

Also as a systems administrator, i like gui's, generally good ones allow me to get my job done faster, not slower, if I have to, I'll drop to cli, but in a good gui you don't have to, if the gui is written well for usability, you'll be able to cover 95% of what you need to do, and beening able to do that quickly and efficiently is the important thing

Re:open source and usability (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026149)

Who doesn't enjoy a program that, when you hover your mouse over an option, you get a description of what the option does and why you should use it?

"Contextual help" makes even the most alien programs a dream to use.

"Simplicity and intuitiveness for the end user" (4, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#27025879)

"Simplicity and intuitiveness for the end user (both newbie and expert)"

Maybe this will be won by the most blinged-up interface but there's hope here that the competition organisers get some well thought out entries which help guide the users through the configuration of their routers.

Some installs are jargon heavy and just assume you know what all the options mean, little to no explanation or help. I've spent many hours sweating over some WRT GUIs that have (to me as a relative beginner) had meaningless options. I really really want to use these excellent installs but I get really put off by zero-to-poor documentation or explanations of what all the options are.

A simple interface with excellent documentation and guidance would be worth the prize.

Flash based (4, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026011)

Can it be Flash based? I've got some cool ideas involving fancy animated text effects and transitions that would be really useful for a router interface.

Re:Flash based (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026663)

Can it be Flash based? I've got some cool ideas involving fancy animated text effects and transitions that would be really useful for a router interface.

Gah. I think I'm going to be sick. Yeah, you earned that +5 funny.

By popular demand (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026015)

Open-WRT needs a Redmond theme. Bonus points for defaulting to Aero theme, which the user immediately disables, reverting to Redmond theme.

Re:By popular demand (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026527)

It apears you are setting your router to local channels, (this is not supported by the shitty windows drivers included with many wireless chipsets). cancel or deny?

If you really like CLI and have decent knowledge (1)

Darkk (1296127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026245)

If you really like CLI and have decent knowledge in networking then give Vyatta a try. No GUI at all.

I've tried it and it's not too hard. Just have to pay close attention to the syntax or you'll screw it up.

GUI in routers do provide a quick glace as to what is going on. High end Cisco routers do NOT have a nice web-gui as it is entirely CLI based except for some home versions of the PIX.

I personally use DD-WRT v24 SP1 in all of my wireless access points (they're really routers but I turned those functions off) and never skipped a heartbeat. I got a Linksys that been running 6 months solid without a single reboot as DD-WRT is meant to be set and forget type thing.

I do wish peeps luck in this contest as we all could use the money.

Re:If you really like CLI and have decent knowledg (1)

RoundSparrow (341175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026291)

RE: "If you really like CLI and have decent knowledge in networking then give Vyatta a try. No GUI at all."

OpenWRT has "no GUI at all". it is an optional piece when you build the firmware. It has all the settings in /etc/config/ tree. There is a command-line program called UCI that allows you to easily edit them. The GUI's get built on top of that typically.

There are at least 3 installable package GUI's available that I know of: X-WRT, LuCI, Gargoyle. But people have used it for years and years without a GUI.

OpenWRT's is really great at being portable to many routers and CPU types. They spent a lot of time investing in the long-term and not worried about the visual fluff.

The future or routers. (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026345)

I'd like to see an open-wrt router firmware with.

8+ - eth ports for multi wan (load balancing and failover)
8+ - port USB so I can attach everything

Different size distribution so we can choose what to install and a nice auto-update to support all the devices.

I like LuCI (1)

kshade (914666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026405)

I don't know, LuCI seems pretty good to me and is a good choice for people who actually know about the technical stuff but don't want to do everyting in the CLI. Basically, it's nothing more than a graphical add-on for uci (the OpenWRT configuration manager) that shows you what options are available and what they do. Oh, and the live network/CPU load diagrams are a nice touch too.

Re:I like LuCI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026593)

I LOVE Lucy.

160k could hire them a good designer (or ten) (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026521)

It's cute that they're doing this the open-source way, but realistically they'd be better off hiring a few designers and letting them fight it out. Maybe I'm jaded from years of Linux adminning, but I have absolutely no faith in the graphic abilities of network geeks, myself included.

Re:160k could hire them a good designer (or ten) (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026605)

but realistically they'd be better off hiring a few designers and letting them fight it out.

I heard someone say that "Nobody ever made statues of committees".

I think the money would be better spent one one good designer and what's left over on doing good usability tests and iterating the design and implementation process.

- Jonas

Know what SOHO means? (2, Insightful)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026553)

The majority of the posts seems to be sneering down in elitism to these poor folks that don't know how to setup a router in the CLI and, god forgive them, try to setup their home network by themselves, without paying a sysadmin to do the work.

Yes, a sysadmin that can't configure a router without a good GUI should be hanged by the neck until death, but last time I checked, the majority of the routers supported by OpenWRT were SOHO ones.

Do you really expect people that just want to setup a minimal network of maybe a printer, one desktop and two lappies to read RFC 1123?
One shouldn't need to. Yes, networking is interesting and useful, but not everyone wants to be an expert on it.

I have seen a physics PhD setting up a wireless net for his lab with WEP, because the list of protocols was sorted alphabetically and it came before WPA. Well, he should have told the lab's undergrad to do the job but, nevertheless, a good GUI would at least put an (deprecated) near the option.

He wasn't being dumb. Would be if he put a short common word as password. Even if he didn't knew about dictionary attacks, common sense would have told him that they're easy to guess. Actually he chose some interval of the digits of pi because it had high information entropy. But how could he know that the router would offer an insecure option to him or which 3-letter acronym was better?

Re:Know what SOHO means? (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27026787)

Why modern routers even offer WEP is beyond me. All the stuff I've touched seems to want to place WEP as the "standard" and so people who don't know the acronym soup will pick it over something more secure and usable (no hex passwords) like WPA or WPA2.

It is too bad the protocols all suck. Ideally the access point and the wifi cards would auto-configure in a way that allowed for the strongest encryption possible between the two. However, 802.11a/b/g doesn't offer that, instead forcing you to pick one.

CLI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27026655)

IMO, the best router interface is a CLI.

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