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Setting Up DD-WRT For Hotspot Use

I’ve chosen to cover setting up DD-WRT, as it’s a well-rounded, feature-rich firmware replacement offering many hotspot solutions. The following steps will walk through the process of installing and setting up DD-WRT for a public hotspot solution.

Step 1: Get a Supported Router

The first step is to round up a supported 802.11g wireless router, such as the following:

  • Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS
  • Buffalo WHR-G125 and WHR-HP-G54
  • Asus WL-500G and WL-300G

You can also view the full list of supported devices on the DD-WRT website, along with a great comparison chart and list of top routers.

NOTE!Note: You should try to avoid devices with only 2MB of flash memory (such as WRT54G/GS v5.0/6.0) because you’ll only be able to run the micro version of DD-WRT. You should also note the Asus WL-500G premium is only supported by v23 SP3 and later releases.

Step 2: Get the DD-WRT Firmware

Next you need to download the firmware, based on the particular router you’re using and your desired features, from the collection on the DD-WRT website.

Before you start browsing the collection, however, you should familiarize yourself with the firmware naming and organization schemes. You’ll see the firmware organized into three different sections: stable, release candidates, and beta. As you can perhaps infer, the stable section is your best bet, providing thoroughly-tested firmware releases.

NOTE!Note: The most recent stable release (at the time of this writing) is v23 SP2 and the latest release candidate is v24 RC1.

Each firmware release offers a common set of versions (see Figure 2 for a comparison) which provides more control over the features included in the firmware to conserve router resources, and to support routers with smaller memory sizes. In most cases, the Standard version is the best choice for hotspots, as it embraces all the features except the special VoIP and VPN components.

Comparison of DD-WRT firmware file versions.
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Comparison of DD-WRT firmware file versions.

There are also different firmware types:

  • ASUS: For the WL-300/500G models.
  • Generic: For routers that don’t require their own version and for special cases.
  • Linksys specific: Specific firmware versions for the particular models, beginning with wrt.
  • Motorola specific: For micro and mini file versions only, and identified by moto.
Tip!Tip: When flashing from original Linksys firmware, you must first use the mini version; then you can upgrade/flash to another version. When using the web interface method, you must use the generic firmware types.

When browsing through the firmware collections, you’ll see file names in the following format: dd-wrt.vXX_set_type.bin. The XX identifies the firmware version, set defines the firmware collection (such as micro or VOIP and is displayed for only nonstandard sets), and type identifies the hardware type (such as ASUS or Generic).

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