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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.
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...