Real World Example: Turning an Access point into a wireless repeater

Recently at my work we realized that we needed to extend our wireless internet without wired connections. They do, of course, sell wifi extenders. We actually bought one, and had some marginal success with it, but it would often require rebooting by way of physically unplugging it and plugging it back in. This became tedious. It also did not have very good signal strength, and we needed to put it fairly close to our main wireless access point to make it work. This was unsatisfactory.

So, I needed a solution.

Enter DD-WRT. As it turned out, we have several Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Routers. We had a version 2.2, and a version 8.0. DD-WRT allows you to wipe the Linksys firmware, and replace it with a small Linux run firmware called DD-WRT, which has a lot more options, such as wireless repeaters and bridging.

First stop was here to get the software and do some *light* reading. By light I mean HEAVY, REALLY HEAVY.

http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index

Then I started the process of wiping the version 8.0 Linksys. First, performing the hard reset, by pressing the reset button for 30 seconds, unplugging the unit, still pressing the reset button for another 30 seconds, and then plugging back in while holding the reset button for 30 more seconds, or 90 seconds total. This is required they say to clear the NVRAM.

Once done, I logged into the router through a wired lan connection on 192.168.1.1, username/password of admin/admin, the defaults. Once in, I simply navigated to the Administration -> Update Firmware page and selected the browse button. For my specific model, I then “upgraded” it by selecting the vxworkskiller_GV8-v3.bin file. This actually wiped everything and set it back to the boot mode.

The Linksys rebooted itself, and I waited 5 full minutes, per the instructions, before proceeding.

I lost my LAN connection to the Linksys, so I set my LAN to a static IP of 192.168.1.12, 255.255.255.0, 192.168.1.1, respectively, which allowed me to connect once again. The web gui was no longer available, but it did accept pings.

I then used tftp to push a file to it. If you do not have tftp in Debian, you can install it like so:

$ sudo apt-get install tftp

I then typed the following:

# tftp 192.168.1.1
> mode binary
> rexmt 1
> timeout 60
> push dd-wrt.v24_micro_olsrd_generic.bin
xxxxxxx kb sent in xxx seconds.
>quit

Now I waited once again for a while to make sure the Linksys reset itself properly. After a few minutes, I logged into the unit on my LAN cable at 192.168.1.1, to be greeted by DD-WRT! There were several helpful guides on how to wirelessly link two or more routers, so I highly recommend you read one of them before proceeding, as the language used for the connections seems backwards to me, making it impossible for me to set up on my own. With a guide, however, it linked right up and is working flawlessly!

Linux – keep it simple.

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