One of the most important parts of a scalable home gateway is the router. The router connects your home network to the outside world via your Internet Service Provider. It 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.
Much of this routing configuration is handled by the router firmware. Most manufacturers develop their own firmware as part of their device manufacturing process. In many cases this firmware is developed to support basic functionality only. Advanced router configuration options are not supported, as the majority of users who purchase these are not advanced users. Most users would not have need for this function.
For those home owners who want or need advance router configuration and monitoring functionality they have the choice of either purchasing a much more expensive router device from commercial grade suppliers, or they could setup a computer based router software, which again requires a separate computer and different network cards.
One final option is to install open source firmware on their home owner class router which gives them this advance functionality. This gives the advantage of inexpensive hardware and router software which in most cases is free for the home owner when used for personal use only.
Extra Functionality Provided by OpenSource Router Firmware
The list of the added benefits provided by OpenSource router firmware is long and extensive. Most people are not going to understand all of the benefits unless they have specific need or understanding.
I decided to investigate the benefits of OpenSource router firmware by loading it on a brand new Asus RT-N16 router. This is a popular home owner router device which is fully supported by the DD-WRT and Tomato Firmware groups – two popular router OpenSource firmware groups.
The first step is to document the standard functionality provided by the Asus RT-N16 router firmware. This is the base by which the OpenSource firmware will be compared against. It’s beyond the scope of these articles to go into details on all the firmware functionality. Screen shots of the software will be provided with a brief overview.
An Overview of the Asus RT-N16 Router Firmware – General Settings
Quick Internet Setup (QIS)
Chances are good that you do not even need to do this step, as I did not. The router automatically configured itself when it booted the first time. The Quick Internet Setup does provide you with functionality to configure your router for special internet connection types.
Please Choose the WAN connection type provided by your ISP.
Automatic IP connection setup
Connect to DNS Server automatically?
Complete Network Configuration Summary
Connecting to your wireless network
The Network map is the initial screen to display when you access your router. It displays the internet connection status along with the type of wireless security level. Clicking on the bubble in the middle pane displays details in the panel on the right hand side of the screen.
Clicking on the Clients bubble shows the clients on your network including either the computer name or the MAC address. The IP address for each of the clients is also displayed with an option to block individual clients.
There are two QoS setting interfaces in Traffic Manger (1) Automatic mode and (2) User define QoS rules. You can click the drop-down list at the upper right corner to change the interface. More information can be found at: ASUSWRT QoS Introduction and settings.
Traffic Monitor helps you to monitor the following types of network traffic: Internet: All Internet traffic. Wired: Network traffic from wired to wireless network and to the Internet. Wireless: Network traffic from wireless to wired network and to the Internet.
Last 24 Hours
Parental control allows you to set the time limit for a client’s network usage. It must first be enabled before it allows you to configure it. A tutorial video is available to aid you in this process.
A number of different options exist for the use of the USB port on the RT-N16 router. These include:
- AiDisk – Share files in the USB disk through the Internet.
- Servers Center – Setup the UPnP, iTunes FTP and Network Place (Samba).
- Network Printer Server – The network printer server supports two methods: (1) ASUS EZ printer sharing (2) LPR to share printer.
- 3G/WiMax – The current 3G setting is set to 3G Backup mode. If WAN port is disconnected, the network mode will automatically turn to 3G mode (requires a USB 3G adapter).
- Download Master – Download tools
Summary of General Settings
These are the general settings screens for the ASUS RT-N16 router. The next article will detail the more advanced settings options available with the AUS firmware for this router.
Return to the Firmware Overview: Asus RT-N16 Router Firmware Overview