Wireless networking is sometimes a tricky business. I'm not referring to the countless open access points I count on every day to provide me with a much needed IP when I’m away from home. These are all the situations where everything is fine and dandy and nice. I am however referring to the times it does not work. The houses that suck up wifi coverage like Sponguebob Squarepants in the Sahara. That eat away at transmission ranges of access points like Oprah Winfrey munches lard-tarts. Those kind of things. Cause face it. When you have to do an installation of a wireless product somewhere … its seldom without risk. First off you have to go out to the shop and buy a wireless access point (or router of course ) next up you need to install it , and pray that it will give you adequate range so you can at least get 5 feat away from your wifi spot and still enjoy wireless surfing. If it works you're in luck, if it does not .. you are proverbially fucked. Cause there is no way to guarantee that any access point will cover the range you need. It depends on your house, the position of your laptop, the wifi card in your laptop and so on. Its a small nightmare.Or at least it WAS until Linksys released the infamous WRT54g Router, running on a Linux derivative. This 80 Euro peace of hardware was not very pretty to look at but it had one big advantage. Since Linksys used an open source firmware, they had to make this firmware public and allow the open source community … to improve it.
Thus came the hungry mobs of developers who turned this 80 Euro machine into one of the most versitile and powerfull wireless routers you could buy for the price of a cheap Nigerian prostitutes hourly fee. Thanks to these 'improved firmware " the WRT54g turned into something far beyond the expectations of the original manufacturer. Using the minute memory space on the router, open source developers turned managed to extend the range, add extra security, opened up the console so you could access the darn thing with putty and so on. But of course the key element was that they pumped up the transmit power over 90%. In many situations this little router saved my life. Having set up one of these cheap ass routers in a local student dorm, i was (thanks to the improved firmware) able to service 15 students AT ONCE with a wireless internet connection, in a BIG ASS old building with LOTS of walls. All of this thanks to the firmware called HYPERWART.
So whenever I had to advise a wireless router to people, the answer was always the same : A wrt54g running Hyperwart. Users where happy, Hyperwart got a lot of attention, Linksys sold a lot of WRT54g's… Until recently.SOMEBODY at Linksys must have gone criminally insane because when version 7 of the WRT54gs came out .. they decided to rip out the motherboard of their successful router , put something broadcom chipset in there and ship it in the same casing, the same box, under the same name .. Only that their most successful router (thanks to the open source community) does NOT support all the great "function improving' firmware like HYPERWART. And to ad shame to misery (or the other way around) the range on the device is absolutely horrible ! It sucks beyond belief !!! Now at what point do you kill off a successful product ? What board meeting must be swamped with nerve gas to make one decide such a crappy course of action to yank out the gut of a great machine ! Needless to say i'm pissed, (i'm happy i've got a model from an earlier version) but it does leave me without a shit-free router to advise to friends and relatives. Sometimes it just boggles the mind.