linksys e3000 running dd-wrt

Cisco Linksys E3000 Router

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This page describes my experiences with the Linksys E3000 dual-band wireless router. I’m experimenting to discover how to make an embedded device like this work for various useful purposes.

Why an E3000?

The affordable E3000 provides a solid platform than can accomplish a wide variety of tasks. There are recent, stable versions of both Tomato and DD-WRT firmware for it.

Here are some feature highlights:

  • 480MHz Broadcom CPU
  • 8MB ROM
  • 64MB RAM
  • 60K NVRAM
  • two radios
  • 300mbps WLAN
  • gigabit Ethernet
  • a USB (2.0) port

One attractive feature of the E3K is that they’re all the same version, so the one you find will automatically be the right version.

The E3000 was a fully-developed design when it was released. It’s the same hardware as its predecessor, the WRT610N v2, except the E3000 has more usable NVRAM, 60K instead of 32K. So essentially it’s a “WRT610N v2.1”.

The E3000 is discontinued, but Cisco made a lot of them so you can typically find a reasonably-priced used one.

Third-Party Firmware: DD-WRT

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For security and other reasons, I want to use a relatively recent firmware build. Based on the wiki page a certain recent “Kong build” is was recommended for the E3000. The source of that information appears to be this discussion thread. The Kong-customized build has been updated in April of 2014. It’s covered in (this discussion thread).

Safely moving from the stock firmware to our desired build means we will flash firmware into the router three times.

  1. E3000 Trailed Initial Flash Build
  2. A more-recent E3000-specific “Mini” build (stepping-stone flash)
  3. The desired Kong VPN build

Flashing the Trailed Initial Flash Build

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The Trailed Initial Flash Build is a basic copy of DD-WRT that’s considered safe and stable for the E3000 router.

I did a 30/30/30 reset, then followed the procedure on the E3000’s DD-WRT Wiki page.

Flashing the Interim Router-Specific Build

The safe and proper way to switch to a specific SVN build of DD-WRT is to flash the device-specific “Mini” build first. Paraphrasing from the wiki page,

FIRST flash the trailed mini build (with E3000 in the name), then AFTERWORDS you can upgrade to a nv60k.bin for that SVN build.

A mini build that works appears to be dd-wrt.v24-21676_NEWD-2_K2.6_mini-e3000.bin.

Yes, it takes a while to RESET/FLASH/RESET/CONFIGURE. This stuff requires a bit of patience.

Flashing the Desired Kong VPN build

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The final flash is the r22000+ Kong build, usb-ftp-samba3-vpn-nv60k-broadcom.bin. This (Kong-modified) build of dd-wrt has a stellar reputation for speed and reliability. It’s updated to fix the Heartbleed SSL vulnerability.

Now it’s time to experiment with DD-WRT firmware on a real router rather than the online dd-wrt demo version. ☺

DD-WRT Setup From Factory Defaults

<Full “30/30/30 reset”>

<Wired connection on LAN port, WAN port empty>

<DHCP assigns your computer an IP address>

<Browse to default dd-wrt login page>

Set router admin name:

Set Router admin password:

Setup – Basic Setup

Router Name:e3k-nnnn (unique, where nnnn is last four #’s in SN)

Time Zone

UTC – 7:00, No DST (Arizona settings)

Would use “2nd Sun March – First Sun Nov” if AZ had DST

Time Server Name: north-america.pool.ntp.org

<Save & Apply Settings>

Wireless – Basic Settings – wl0 [2.4 GHz]

Wireless Network Mode: NG Mixed

Change SSID to: -unknown-

Change Wireless Channel: 11 (the best channel choice will vary)

Wireless – Basic Settings – wl1 [5 GHz]

Wireless Network Mode: N-Only

Change SSID to: ~unknown~

Change Wireless Channel: auto (the best channel choice will vary)

<Save & Apply Settings>

Wireless – Wireless Security – wl0

Security Mode: WPA2 Personal

WPA Algorithms: AES

WPA Shared Key: This is more than twenty characters.

Wireless – Wireless Security – wl1

Security Mode: WPA2 Personal

WPA Algorithms: AES

WPA Shared Key: This is more than twenty characters.

<Save & Apply Settings>

Wireless – WL0-Advanced

Set TX Power to 56

<Save & Apply Settings>

Wireless – WL1-Advanced

Set TX Power to 56

<Save & Apply Settings>

Turn off the default viewable router information at router’s IP address

Administration – Management – Web Access

Check: Info Site Password Protection

Set the router to reboot itself weekly (helps extra-long-term reliability)

Administration – Keep Alive – Schedule Reboot

Check Enable

Set the day and time (e.g. 3:45 Sunday)

[to be continued…]

Third-Party Firmware: Tomato

Tomato firmware has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve deployed lots of Tomato-driven routers that are all just silently doing their job day in and day out.

Tomato’s emphasis seems to bee different from that of DD-WRT. DD-WRT sports a huge number of available features and runs on a wide variety of supported devices. Tomato, on the other hand, runs on far fewer devices and does fewer things, but the things Tomato does are done very well.

Tomato is also well-documented. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Tomato_Firmware/Menu_Reference

An online Tomato demo: Virtual Tomato RAF

[to be continued…]

OptWare

OptWare is packaged software for embedded Linux devices. Hundreds of OptWare packages are available.

[to be continued…]

Forrest

Name: Forrest Age: 42 Location: Washington State enjoys computers, programming, web design and development. I really enjoy working with 3d models. Was recently diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy. It all the sudden appeared in 2011. My life has not been the same.

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