Custom Firmware Alternatives for Your Wireless Router

A good wireless router for most users is one that you set up in a few easy steps and forget about until it gets you online. Any decent consumer-grade wireless router will work well most of the time, while the more curious can still tweak around a few configuration options to make sure things run smoothly.

But beyond the stock features that come with your router, there are a number of things that the hardware you buy may be capable of; It just so happens that the manufacturer decided not to include them for a variety of reasons ranging from keeping things simple to the fact that they sell more expensive models to people who need those features.

Luckily for you, people are working on ways to run fancy stuff on your average $60-$100 device. After a relatively simple upgrade to a free third-party firmware, you’ll be able to boost your wireless signal, prioritize which programs get your valuable bandwidth, and many other things typically reserved for pro-grade wireless routers. Do it.

Below you’ll find a selection of the most popular options along with some basic information and strong points. Since the installation process will vary by device, we can’t include instructions for practically all supported hardware, but we’ll point you in the right direction, so you can see if your router is supported and refer to the installation notes. Follow.

We should note that installing custom firmware may void your warranty and if anything goes wrong there is also a chance that you could brick the device. With that said, if you’re feeling adventurous (and if you’re reading TechSpot we have to assume you’re open to stuff like this), proceed at your own risk.


DD-WRT is by far the most popular and widely tested of the bunch. This Linux-based firmware currently supports over 200 different devices and is so well developed and documented, that it comes pre-installed with routers manufactured by Buffalo Technology and a few others. DD-WRT has an insane amount of features, too many to list here, but some of the highlights include support for IPv6, advanced QoS for bandwidth allocation, radio output power adjustment (to boost your Wi-Fi signal). for), bandwidth monitoring, various types. Wi-Fi Hotspot Services and much more.

You can check if your router is supported by visiting the supported devices list in the DD-WRT wiki, and also access their router database, which will help you find specific instructions for your model and modification.

Tomato is a small, lean, and simple replacement firmware for the Linksys WRT54G/GL/GS, Buffalo WHR-G54S/WHR-HP-G54 and other Broadcom-based routers. It does almost everything that DD-WRT can do, but with a simple web interface that makes heavy use of AJAX and also has a beautiful SVG-based graphical bandwidth monitor. Other features include enhanced quality service rules, Wi-Fi signal boosting, access restrictions, and wireless client mode.

Tomato is also not available on routers like DD-WRT. Check their homepage to see if your router model and revision is listed. Also check out the FAQ and the included readme before installing.

OpenWRT is a customizable firmware that is mainly installed on embedded devices and is mostly aimed at advanced users. It primarily uses a command-line interface, but also includes an optional web-based GUI interface via separate packages such as LuCI or X-Wrt, allowing easy access to a wide range of features. gets permission. One that stands out is the fully writable file system, which allows the installation of updates without having to recompile and flash the entire firmware image.

The OpenWRT Project also provides regular bug fixes and updates, even for devices that are no longer supported by their manufacturers. A list of compatible routers with installation instructions for each model is available here.

Gargoyle was originally available as a third web interface for OpenWRT, but is now being released as a complete firmware image for routers such as the Linksys WRT54G series and Fonera. Among its features are dynamic DNS, quality of service, access restrictions, bandwidth quota management, bandwidth monitoring tools, and an AJAX-based GUI.

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