Friday, 20 April 2007

The Missing Router Firmware

I’m the proud owner of 2 Linksys 300N and 1 Netgear 854T Pre-N wireless routers. Really neat routers with great performance when they work. Pre-N is the new very fast Wi-Fi standard that should be the “Next Generation”.

But what really puzzles me is that all 3 have a similar bug. A bug where after some operation time, the router no longer accepts any traffic and stops working. It is impossible to figure out what goes wrong and it seems like nothing really makes it break down. It can happen anytime. But why does it happen? And on both equipment from Linksys and Netgear? And in different locations with different clients attached?

Could it be that both routers use some Open Source or BSD TCP/IP stack, with a know bug? The bug being that router does not close the “ports” in use so when the router runs out of ports – then the router dies. (A normal IP stack closes a used port after about 5 minutes of no activity.)

And why do Linksys and Netgear not fix it?

Well development departments are busy. They are likely already working on the next generation of gear for you. Bug or no bug – when the public does not cry foul – the manufactures do not fix the bugs.. CAN YOU HEAR ME CRY FOUL? Sometimes I think a class action suit is the only thing that makes them go back and fix the old bugs.

So in short – do not buy the above routers – they will give you grief. I replaced them with some old Linksys routers with DD-WRT firmware, an Open Source firmware with lot of options – and since then my support life has been bliss. No problems at all. They perform superb with features far exceeding that of Linksys and Netgear’s “ readymade consumer products”

So on my shopping list now – are ONLY products that are compatible with DD-WRT. They can be a bit hard to find – but well worth it.

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