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Bloody (or Tomato-y) Brilliant Firmware

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April 24, 2008 by brian

I’ve tried a number of third-party firmwares for my Linksys WRT54GS router, however I find myself extremely satisfied with one in particular: Tomato. I just upgraded to the latest version and once again I was reminded of how wonderful this software is. Just like the other third-party firmwares for Linksys routers, it’s based on Linux. However, I think these differences really push Tomato over the edge into greatness.

The number one feature that I think is very important, is the easy no-hassle upgrades. When I see that there is a Tomato software update with the help of Google Reader, I simply download the file and upload the contained .bin file to my router. I don’t need to reconfigure any settings, unlike all of the other firmwares that I’ve used in the past. Having to reconfigure a crap ton of settings with a software update is not acceptable in my book.

Brilliantly, Tomato incorporates bandwidth monitoring right into its web interface. When I used the DD-WRT firmware, I had to get Cacti installed on a separate Linux box to achieve a similar goal, and it wasn’t nearly as convenient. With Tomato, I just configured it to save the bandwidth data to a CIFS/Samba share on my Linux server (for lack of size and not wanting to burn out my router’s NVRAM by saving all of the data there). The bandwidth graphs make use of AJAX and SVG, which work well and look pretty cool.

Multiple DDNS (dynamic DNS) client configurations can be entered, so I can have both DynDNS and OpenDNS updated if my public IP address changes. Friggin’ brilliant…

Last but not least is the GUI. As I mentioned before, its web-based like other firmwares, however this one has a clean and fast interface. AJAX is used to give it some nice on-demand features. My favorite is when I’m selecting a channel for my wireless network and it actively scans and displays the strongest SSID neighbor for each channel.

I think I’m going to donate some money to Polarcloud.com for this incredible product. The only feature that I’ve been slightly missing with Tomato is a VPN server. With DD-WRT, I used the PPTP server and was able to remotely connect my laptop into my home network from anywhere on the Internet. I did have some security concerns with it, so I’m not sure that I’d still be using the VPN configuration, but it would make a nice addition to Tomato’s great feature set.

Now go out and install Tomato on a compatible router near you…


1 comment »

  1. […] thinking there are two possibilities for me to get this working.  One would be to make my router running Tomato do this, but the more likely solution would be to utilize my Ubuntu server.  On the server […]

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