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Wireless Networking Linux

Netgear WNR3500L Open Source Router Announced 300

Posted by kdawson
from the still-making-lemonade dept.
MyOpenRouter writes "Netgear has announced the WNR3500L, a brand new, open source, wireless-N gigabit router customizable with third party firmwares. MyOpenRouter is the dedicated source for Netgear open source routers, with the full scoop including a review with screenshots, how-to's, tutorials, firmware downloads, etc. Here's a review and the downloads page." The router can run popular open source firmware including DD-WRT, OpenWRT. and Tomato. It will list for $140.
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Netgear WNR3500L Open Source Router Announced

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  • Re:So what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:46PM (#29651771)

    The OEM appears to be driving this themselves. They didn't have to be sued to enable this and no one had to figure out how to load their own software on it.

  • 802.11n? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:50PM (#29651805) Homepage
    802.11n?
  • Price (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:55PM (#29651851)

    $140 is damn expensive for a $30 hunk of plastic easily gotten from the local S-Mart. It'll sell like submarine screen doors!

    I paid $40 for my WRT54G, and since I (or *anyone* I know) don't have any equipment that speaks 802.11n, I'm not going to lay down $140 for a new router when my current one finally dies. I'll go out and get another of the exact same.

    This product is pretty much doomed to fail, which seriously sucks because this is something us GNU folks have been clamoring for since wifi was wifi.

  • Re:So what's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:57PM (#29651861) Journal

    What can I do with this that I can't do with a dozen other dd-wrt routers?

    You can help to convince other OEMs to embrace open platforms, as Netgear has, by buying this product instead of hacking some other box.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:02PM (#29651903) Homepage

    It's great if "open source" is seen by a company like Netgear as a positive marketing tool. However, it's a bit of a stretch to list DD-WRT, OpenWRT. and Tomato as all being open-source. Tomato has a nonproprietary back end plus a proprietary web interface. DD-WRT has a history [bitsum.com] of GPL violations, and tries to charge people more money for a version with more functionality. If you take "open source" totally literally, then yeah, maybe these are open source, in the sense that you probably are allowed to read the source code freely. But I don't think that's what most people in the open-source world really mean by open source. OpenWRT is the only one on this list that is really totally free and nonproprietary. I run OpenWRT on my router, with a web-based front-end called Gargoyle, which is also (really) open source. Gargoyle is pretty bare bones, but it is good enough for a lot of quick, simple stuff. It would be nice if the developer could include just a tad more functionality in it, though, because I do end up having to ssh in and do certain things from the command line.

    What I would really like is a cheap router that wouldn't crash and hang up all the time. For my home network, I picked up a wrt54g v.4 on ebay, because it has more memory than the current models, and is reputed to be more stable. I also bought a (cheap) UPS, because a lot of people say it's power surges that tend to cause routers to lock up. Well, I still have to reboot the router fairly frequently. It doesn't seem to be correlated with what firmware and software I run, either. I don't understand why I should have to reboot such a simple, single-purpose device more than once a year. The netgear box referred to in TFA is $130. I might consider paying that much for a router for my home network if I had some reason to believe it would need less frequent rebooting. The problem is that I have never seen reliable data that measured frequency of lockups in routers and correlated it with specific variables that I have control over. I'm perfectly willing to believe that a $1000 router designed for medium-sized businesses would not lock up. I just don't want to pay $1000.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:11PM (#29652001)

    What can I do with this that I can't do with a dozen other dd-wrt routers?

    For starters, find it in a store. When my old 802.11g AP died, I had a hell of a time trying to do a JOIN between "StoreShelf" and "open source firmware compatibility list." I wanted to just go to the store, not order online. 95% of the stuff on the lists for DD-WRT, Tomato-whatever, and OpenWRT hasn't been sold in at least a year, or can only be found in one or two countries.

    Second, it's well equipped: you get N radios, a decent amount of RAM (64MB is top of the market, many devices have 8-16) and a full set of gigabit ports; I didn't notice whether or not they're handled by the CPU or an actual switch chip (the latter is better, if I remember correctly.) The list of 802.11n routers supported by the open source firmwares is pretty small. It becomes scarce when you limit yourself to gigabit ports and more than 16MB of ram. The only shame I see with this is that there's only 8MB of flash; that's stingy, but not the end of the world, as they include USB and DD-WRT and company are capable of using external storage for the OS. USB flashkeys, and 30MB/sec ones at that, are pretty damn cheap these days.

    Then: have it work, without spending an hour reading through scattered documentation, wikis, FAQs, and forum pages trying to figure out if you'll brick the device you just spent $50-100 on.

    Then: have it continue to work, without crappy performance, randomly rebooting itself, freezing, or slowly grinding to a halt over the course of a day or so. All of which I have had repeated problems with. On my N router, I could only get about 8MB/sec with DDWRT; on the stock firmware, I got 12.

    I love DD-WRT, it's amazingly, amazingly configurable- but finding supported N hardware that works reliably is a royal pita. I'm pleased to see that someone is going to release hardware that plays nice with the open source community and has a better chance of working properly. It's an extra bonus that it is pretty decently spec'd out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:26PM (#29652113)

    So because a third party open source application doesn't fully support your router, and another does but has features you don't like you are going to flat out stay away from any "open" routers in favour of closed ones?

    Who do you work for? Apple?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:28PM (#29652127) Homepage

    These router makers have been constantly resisting people "hacking" into their routers to make them do much more than they did "off the shelf." Why? Why do they care? Why did they ever care? Is it because they think their Linux based router OS is in need of protection? Are they believing that the software is really the "product" that people are interested in? I never really understood it. The people who do the modifications just wanted the router for the conveniently arranged hardware.

    Linksys put out their "L" series routers already, but they are slightly more expensive and in limited supply everywhere I have looked.

    This approach from Netgear seems to appeal exactly where these users live -- getting a device they can work with, collaborate on and grow. And by doing this, they are actually building a a fan-base rather than restricting their user-base.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:09PM (#29652411) Journal

    I think this brings up a crucial point. We should not be relying on any equipment in any serious network infrastructure that can be bricked by even the most colossally broken firmware update. A proper router would either:

    1. have two sets of firmware with a physical button to force booting from the backup firmware to allow reflashing, or
    2. have a flash card slot and a user-removable flash card for the firmware image.

    The latter would be far preferable, as it would make the amount of soldered-in flash a moot point. Instead of sticking in flash chips, stick in an SD or CF card reader and a low end flash card that's just big enough to hold the stock firmware. Want to use firmware that's bigger? Copy it onto a bigger flash card and swap them out. Doesn't work? Swap back to the previous flash card.

    The idea of firmware flashers makes sense for a device that is not critical and is not updated often, nor typically updated with custom firmware. Network infrastructure fails all of those tests, however.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:35PM (#29652581)

    They care because a lot of them also make fancier more expensive routers (Linksys is owned by Cisco for example) and they dont like that open source hackers are adding features to their cheap consumer routers normally only found in big iron routers at 4x the price.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:24PM (#29652847) Homepage

    Of course you are correct and I knew this. However, that's not "free market capitalism" that people speak so highly of. What you describe, however, are failing attempts to manipulate the market and to keep prices needlessly high.

    Every time I hear arguments about free markets and "prices the market will bear" I am reminded of things like this and the fact that nearly EVERY business on this scale engages in such practices.

    This move represents a departure from immorality.

  • by uncqual (836337) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:24PM (#29653187)
    I think in consumer wireless routers "recertified" means one or more of the following:
    • "This thing is too hard to set up."
    • "I thought I could put it in my basement and get a great signal on the second floor at the other end of the house."
    • "What do you mean 'You need a cable or DSL modem'? It's wireless - it says so right there on the box."
  • by Dibblah (645750) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:55AM (#29655003)

    Interestingly, these routers (specifically the WNR854T) when they die are not completely dead.

    The symptom I have seen on both of the units I had is loss of functionality, followed by "dim" blinking lights.

    This is caused in my case by the on-PCB 5v supply failing - It outputs about 4v. Since the 3.3v is derived from the 5v line, the CPU is also affected. It appears to be the SMPSU chip itsself that fails - Paralleling a working 5v supply onto the 5v line works.

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