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What is Open Source Firmware?

Benefits of Open Source Firmware

Your average router's stock firmware is unreliable, functionally limited, and likely full of dangerous vulnerabilities that can put your entire online experience at risk. In fact, manufacturers will often not even bother to patch routers with serious security holes, especially if the device is a few year's old. This leaves devices defenseless, out in the world, completely exposed to potential hackers and prying eyes looking for network security weaknesses to exploit.

That's why running a router on open source firmware - AKA custom firmware, alternative firmware, or after-market firmware - is such a necessity in this day and age. Not only are these networking devices made safer, but open source firmware also creates the opportunity to enjoy a wealth of advanced features that create a more adaptable and versatile home or office network. The open source commmunity provides network protection and a longer shelf-life for the device that is responsible for protecting all your devices, internet, and personal data.

Imagine improved and increased network stability (no more reboots), advanced bandwidth, wireless signal controls, and more. With an open source upgrade, there's no need to imagine it anymore. Your home or small office network will be as healthy as any you've ever experienced.

Popular Reasons To Use Open Source Firmware

  • Removes government backdoors & squashes pesky firmware bugs in default firmware.
  • Openly visible firmware code for community vetting.
  • Improved, consistent user interface and functionality across various brands and models.
  • VPN Integration – OpenVPN, PPTP, & L2TP client/server 
  • Enhanced Network Stability & Network Status Information
  • Advanced Wireless Modes – Access Point (AP), wireless client bridge, & repeater modes.
  • DNS forwarder – DNSmasq with local hostnames, domain names, and internet address caching
  • VLAN (Virtual LAN) Support
  • Access to IP Tables
  • IPV6 Support
  • Wake-on-LAN – Remote network access
  • Radius Authentication: Enterprise level wireless security.
  • Telnet/SSH Support
  • Dynamic DNS (DDNS) service integration
  • DHCP Server – Using DNSmasq with dynamic and static DHCP leases
  • Wi-Fi Hotspot Integrations: For business or neighbors with a verification page using the integrated Chillispot or NOCATSPLASH
  • Advanced Port Forwarding – Create port forwards, redirects, & triggers with included UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)
  • NAT (Network Address Translation) support
  • JFFS2 Support
  • Samba file-share/CIFS client
  • WDS: Wireless distribution system (WDS aka wireless bridging)

The History of Open Source Firmware

In 2002, Linksys started releasing a line of routers (the WRT54G models) that used Linux as an embedded system. Since it was Linux-based, the company was eventually forced to release the firmware source code for those routers under the terms of the Linux GPL (General Public License), a requirement for all things that use Linux as their basis. A company named Sveasoft utilized this release to create its own third-party commercial firmware named Alchemy.

Since then there have been many starts and stops with various firmware projects and branches to focus on specific functionality or support of certain devices. From DD-WRT to Tomato to OpenWRT to...

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Want more info on the most popular open source router firmwares?

DD-WRT Intro GO Tomato IntroGO