Networking

Router Trouble

I am the owner of a wonderful Asus 500g Premium router. I say ‘wonderful’ because this is one solid device: 32 MB of RAM, 8MB of writable flash memory, 2 USB 2.0 ports(yes, 2) and a MIPS-based 266MHz CPU. It might not seem like much but in the embedded world this is a good device. With the help of the great Linux-based firmware for routers, OpenWRT, you can run a multitude of services on this tiny device with the flexibility of a Linux host. By attaching a hard drive to one of the two USB 2.0 ports you can turn int into a NAS via Samba or NFS. I was even able to use it as a torrent client via transmission – which has a web GUI as well. Transfer speed was limited (around 500K) but you didn’t need to leave your PC on to seed that latest edition of your favorite Linux distro so that others can enjoy it. Being a fanless device, the router is extremely quiet, your external HDD might not be as quiet though. You can run VPN, routing via Quagga, attach a webcam to one of the USB port for video surveillance and much more. With Linux as your base and the possibility to cross-compile your own packages, the sky seems to be the limit. Well, until you run out of RAM, anyway.

But that is not what troubled me today (I am well aware of the power OpenWRT bestows upon my little white Asus box); you see – I sent it back for repairs a week ago, as it would no longer boot(I would get 4 solid LED lights on the LAN ports and nothing else – according to the forums, this would indicate a faulty power adapter that could no longer provide the necessary DC current – as also documented here). So, since the warranty hadn’t yet expired, I sent it to be fixed. I clearly explained that I thought the power supply was faulty. They said I had to wait 15 days(!!). However, inexplicably, I got it back today, after only 5 days. Odd, I thought, and went to pick it up. I figured they came to their senses and just replaced the power supply. When the guy at the store plugged it in to check everything was OK , I noticed that the power LED did not blink as it does when OpenWRT is installed, indicating the bootloader is starting up the system – at which time you can enter the failsafe mode and reflash the firmware or just delete the config – which led me to believe that the original Asus firmware was installed on this box. At home, my suspicion was confirmed – this router was running virgin Asus firmware. Now, either they went to the trouble of reflashing my router – which I doubt – or they gave me another router. The repair papers they gave me did seem to indicate by some cryptic notes that this router’s problem was that the owner could no longer access the configuration page because he had forgotten the password or something stupid like that. Now if I am correct, it means that my real OpenWRT router is somewhere out there and will land in the hands of someone who doesn’t even know how to reset their password. As for me, within 5 minutes of realizing this router was on Asus firmware, I flashed OpenWRT Kamikaze 8.09 pronto.

I am ending this hoping that I am wrong, that this is indeed my router and they just reflashed the original Asus firmware for safety (why didn’t I write down my MAC address or smth, why did I trust those people?) and that someone else didn’t get screwed.

P.S. I am currently working on creating a VPN tunnel via OpenVPN on my box and routing traffic through it. Establishing the tunnel is easy, routing traffic from may LAN has proved tricky. Will post my findings.

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