As previously discussed in the article The Asus RT-N16 Router Firmware – Part 1, one of the most important components in a scalable home gateway is the router. Its role is to connect your home network to the outside world via your Internet Service Provider. The router both exposes devices from your home to the Internet and vice-versa, allowing network devices outside your home to connect to devices inside your home network.
The hardware side of the router device is fixed as per the design of the manufacturer. This includes the amount of memory, processor, physical ports and many of the wireless network capabilities. The software side, or firmware, however, can be replaced on many router devices with OpenSource alternatives.
The increased functionality provided by an OpenSource router firmware can turn an inexpensive router device into a commercial grade device. OpenSource router firmware is mostly free for home and personal use. However, this is also one of its downfalls as the one or two main programmers responsible for these OpenSource firmwares can’t keep developing these for free. Most have regular day jobs also and simply run out of time.
DD-WRT.com still currently offers their firmware free for personal use, with a license required for commercial use. Whether or not that will work in the long run remains to be seen. There is discussion on their website that a new draft for monetization is in the works.
The DD-WRT firmware I will be reviewing here is the “mini” version. It’s the “barebones” or basic version of the DD-WRT firmware. There is also a mega version, which I will review the differences in the next series of articles.
Setup – Basic Setup
All of these settings were configured automatically after installing the firmware. The only setting changed on this screen was the time zone.
WAN Connection Type
This includes connection type and STP settings.
This includes the router name, host name, domain name and MTU settings.
This includes the local IP address, subnet mask, gateway and local DNS settings.
Network Address Server Settings (DHCP)
This includes the DHCP type DHCP server, start IP address, Maximum DHCP users, client lease time, static DNS 1, 2 & 3, WINS, use DNSMasq for DHCP, use DNSMasq for DNS and DHCP authoritative settings.
Setup – Dynamic Domain Name System (DDNS)
This setting allows you to enable a special service which works together with one of the popular dynamic domain name services. Most home internet service providers do not include a static IP assigned to your home. Instead, they have a pool of IP addresses which get assigned when you connect to the internet. If you’re not using the internet for a while, chances are your IP address gets reassigned to another home owner.
If you’re away from your home and want to connect remotely into your home network, you need to know the IP address. Unfortunately, if your address is dynamic, you are not necessarily going to know what it currently is.
The DDNS service on your router automatically notifies your online domain name service of your current IP address. It then keeps this IP address assigned to the domain name you currently have from them, which is typically a sub domain off from their main domain. Depending on the services they offer, it could also be your own domain.
Setup – MAC Address Clone
Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) will assign an IP address to your home network via your router using the MAC address of your router. Once this MAC address is registered, if you later find a need to change routers your MAC address will change.
As a result you may not be able to connect to your internet provider unless you either call them and have the new MAC address registered or use this setting to emulate or “clone” the old value entered here.
Setup – Advanced Routing
Advanced routing is typically needed only when you have multiple routers on your home network. Most home owner will have the operating mode set to Gateway. This simply means that the router is hosting your Internet connection.
Setup – Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN)
VLAN’s are an advanced setup option. Basically it involves breaking up your network into smaller networks. It actually assigns the Ehternet ports on the router device to a specific VLAN or sub network.
One good example of why you would want to do this is to separate data traffic from VoIP traffic by assigning each to a different VLAN. This keeps the data traffic from interfering with the time sensitive VoIP voice traffic. Other reasons could involve different levels of security.
Setup – Networking
Setup – Ethernet over IP Tunneling (EoIP Tunnel)
Return to the Firmware Overview: Asus RT-N16 Router Firmware Overview