It may come as a surprise, but your router has an operating system called firmware. And just like the operating system on a computer, you can reinstall the software running on the router..
Which firmware is better? Each has its own characteristics. Tomato is the easiest to use. DD-WRT has great functionality and good community support. Chillifire allows you to set up a paid WiFi hotspot.
DD-WRT is the most famous firmware that was based on OpenWRT, but easier to install. DD-WRT has many features such as real-time traffic monitoring, access control, QoS which allows you to distribute the bandwidth of the Internet channel between VOIP, streaming video and websites..
You will also get many other additional features, such as Wake-On-LAN, which allows you to put computers on your home network to sleep, and wake them up when you need to connect to them, for example, from abroad. Or the Dual WAN function, which will switch you to another ISP if the main one becomes unavailable.
Built-in OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP allow you to use one VPN server on multiple devices, eliminating the need to establish a VPN connection on each connected device. All this is packaged in a simple interface..
DD-WRT supports select chipsets from Atheros and Ralink. Therefore, you can install it on routers from well-known manufacturers such as Linksys, Netgear, Asus, TP-Link, D-Link. Right on the settings page, you can easily update to the new version when it becomes available. You can check if this firmware is compatible with your device on a special page .
Fresh Tomato is an improved version of Tomato, which in turn is based on DD-WRT. It is easy to use and provides a number of advanced features such as QoS and shell access. This firmware allows you to simultaneously configure two OpenVPN servers, between which you can easily switch, even if they are from different providers. There are integrated Tor and Bittorrent clients.
And there is also real-time bandwidth monitoring, with daily, weekly and monthly reports, whereas DD-WRT offers real-time monitoring only. If you have several devices on your network, this will allow you to see which of them are clogging the channel, which is why the Internet speed decreases .
It is especially important for FreshTomato to use mini-firmware on older routers with a small amount of NVRAM, as there may be too little space in the router for a successful update. As a result, the router will stop working. Check their official website to make sure your device (version number is important too) is listed as compatible.
Advanced Tomato is also an improved version of the original Tomato firmware with an improved user interface. It has a new network monitor, more advanced QOS and access restrictions.
As well as new features such as WDS, client mode, more maximum P2P connections, the ability to run custom scripts, and Telnet / SSH connections. It is possible to reprogram the SES / AOSS button and much more.
AdvancedTomato uses a binary version format that looks like this: 2.5-124. This means that the GUI version is 2.5, and the Tomato by Shibby version is 124. The firmware is based on many open source projects that are released under the GPL license. Therefore, its source code can be found on Github.
OpenWRT is open source, instead of trying to be everything to everyone, it has a platform from which others can package and customize the device in any way they want. OpenWrt is in many ways as flexible as a Linux computer.
Of course, you need some knowledge to install it. But if you know what you are doing, you will have more control over your router than with any other firmware. Especially if you delve deeper into the command line. OpenWrt provides a set of scripts called UCI (Unified Configuration Interface) to simplify configuration through the command line interface. There are many tutorials (including on YouTube) for installing and configuring.
Initially, OpenWRT lacks a GUI (Graphical User Interface). However, there is a set of X-WRT packages that add this functionality and include the ability to remotely manage the router via the web interface. Additional web interfaces such as Gargoyle are also available. In fact, there are already many ready-made firmware images to download and install. There may be a version for your router.
There are about 3,500 additional software packages available for installation through the opkg package management system. For example, it is possible to view network statistics in real time using RRDtool, Collectd, Nagios, Munin lite, Zabbix, etc. And also packages are available for file sharing via SAMBA, NFS, FTP, SFTP and playback of streaming audio / video via AV - DLNA / UPnP standards, iTunes server (DAAP). It provides great options for configuring network functions such as IPv4, IPv6, DNS, DHCP, routing, firewall, NAT, port forwarding and WPA.
With additional packages, you can also run ad blocking on all connected devices. Reduce latency with Smart Queue Management even during high load times. Or, prevent your ISP from tracking your online activity using an OpenVPN client or WireGuard, or DNS encryption. If you have children, then the parental control functionality will be useful, with which you can enter restrictions on the time of access to the Internet, set a quota for the amount of traffic or connection speed.
OpenWrt includes an SSH server so you can access its terminal from anywhere in the world. You will be able to use SSH tunneling to forward traffic over an encrypted connection. This will allow you to securely access sites from free Wi-Fi. SSH tunneling works similarly to VPN, but you can also set up a VPN if you want.
If you have a router with a built-in USB port, you can use it as a BitTorrent client. You can also use tcpdump to log all packets going through your router and analyze them with Wireshark.
The installation guide notes that it is recommended to use devices equipped with chips from Atheros or Ralink from Qualcomm (now MediaTek). OpenWrt also recommends choosing a device with a minimum flash memory of 16MB and 64MB of RAM.
Based on OpenWRT, Gargoyle is another firmware that adds bandwidth quota and network access rules. It mainly supports devices like TP Link, as well as some routers from Asus, Netgear, Linksys.
Since Gargoyle is a web interface for OpenWrt, most OpenWrt tips will work on it as well. If the web interface does not provide a specific function, simply login as root user via SSH, install the required packages and run the required commands. There are about 1500 packages available for installation using the opkg package manager.
Built-in functions include the ability to limit bandwidth and set limits for a specific IP address. The settings are very flexible: administrators can limit quotas to only certain days or hours. You can also block specific ports, protocols, or sites.
In the latest experimental branch, administrators can also throttle the bandwidth when the quota is reached, which reduces the speed of the Internet connection instead of completely blocking access to the network.
If you want to launch your own hotspot, then check out Chillifire. This professional firmware allows you to offer paid or free access to the hotspot from your router. With jQuery Themeroler you can create your own connection page design.
There is a free version that supports connecting up to 10 users per month. If you want to provide access to more users and charge for it, then you will be charged a percentage of the income.
In return, you will receive professional firmware that will save you the headaches of running this enterprise. Please check the list of supported routers beforehand for compatibility information with your device.