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LinkSys Rocks

This is cool.

LinkSys last month switched the standard model of its ubiquitous WRT54G wireless router from Linux to VxWorks, starting with the "series 5" version. Now, LinkSys is shipping a Linux-based WRT54GL model that it says it created specially for Linux hobbyists, hackers, and aficianados. The L version is identical to the "series 4" WRT54G units that Linux hobbyists have long enjoyed hacking, according to the company.

LinkSys's director of product marketing, Mani Dhillon, said LinkSys made the switch because, as a more deeply embedded system, VxWorks allowed the company to halve the amounts of Flash and RAM in the device, while retaining similar functionality. Apparently, reducing memory-related BOM (bill-of-materials) costs more than offset the costs of licensing a proprietary OS, given the WRT54G's extremely high sales volume. "We sell literally hundreds of thousands per month," Dhillon said.

The new, VxWorks-based WRT54G "series 5" models have 2MB of Flash, and 8MB of RAM, compared with 4MB of Flash and 16MB of RAM in the earlier, Linux-based versions. Although the "series 5" devices offer Linux hobbyists less elbow room to load alternative firmware (assuming they could get around the bootloader to install it), it seems likely the hacker community will rise to the challenge.

Linux hackers and hobbyists have long hot-rodded their WRT54Gs, adding features such as Radius authentication, bridge capabilities, VoIP QoS (voice-over-IP quality-of-service), and so on. The L model will continue to offer 4MB of Flash, and 16MB of RAM, in order to support the various freely and commercially available alternative firmware images for the devices that depend on those memory capacities.

That is great... So many manufactures would have done everything they could to discourage the hacking. LinkSys was smart enough to realize that these people made them lots of money and more importantly served as unpaid programming staff.

LinkSys was always "cool" about the hacking before but to make a special model just rocks. And it is good business, the next time I recommend a product for a customer, I'll recommend a LinkSys device.


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Comments (7)

I was worried about the fat... (Below threshold)

I was worried about the fate of Linksys when Cisco bought them out, but Cisco did something it had never done in a significant way before: it allowed Linksys to operate independently, as a wholly-owned subsidiary, rather than rolling them up into the Cisco brand. So, kudos to them for that.

Now if there was some way to get Cisco to stop collaborating with the Red Chinese on the construction of the Great Firewall....

Makes me happy I've always ... (Below threshold)

Makes me happy I've always been a Linksys hacking guy.

Linksys remains the only co... (Below threshold)

Linksys remains the only company whose tech-support I've contacted and actually been helped.

This, in spite of the fact that the problem I was experiencing wasn't within their device. They then proceeded to tell me how to configure the "problem" hardware.

Hell, they even spoke intelligible English.

Say, that reminds me. Anyone else get a chuckle when they get someone on the phone with incredibly broken English and an equally incredible accent and they disclose their name as "Bob" or "Mark" or something similar?

Installed this firmware las... (Below threshold)

Installed this firmware last month to increase signal strength in my house, works great!


By any chance is an English... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

By any chance is an English version of this post available for us Wizbang-loving non-geeks?

Old Coot,Nope, unl... (Below threshold)

Old Coot,

Nope, unless you want to reduce it to a Frankenstien-ian, "Linksys, GOOOOOOD!"

OC, In 100 words or less...... (Below threshold)

OC, In 100 words or less....

The way Linksys made their routers, people could really dig deep inside and make them do incredible things. Instead of paying 600 high end for a router could pay 60 (or less) and hack it to do the same things.

They had an opportunity to shut the door on this behavior (as most companies would have) but they not only left the door open, they gave it a new coat of paint. coolness







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