Archive for July, 2009

Two wireless networks with WRT54G and OpenWrt

July 8, 2009

When I first moved to Portland, it was just me and my laptop and a few days until Comcast turned on the Internet.  Luckily, some neighbors had open wireless access points, and I was able to get maps, check bus routes, and move up my appointment for high-speed internet.  I wanted to extend the same courtesy to my neighbors and guests, so I configured my own open access point.  If Bruce Schneier does it, why shouldn’t I?

A friend of mine strongly disagreed. His argument was simple – I’m not Bruce Schneier, and neither is anyone in my family. Good point. He convinced me to put our computers on a encrypted channel, but I still wanted to provide easy access for guests and neighbors.  Luckily, there are some open source projects that make this possible.

I have a Linksys WRT54GL wireless router, which I bought for the express purpose of installing an open-source firmware and accessing the additional features of the Broadcom BCM5352 chip that drives it. A friend suggested the X-Wrt project, which adds administration web pages to the OpenWRT firmware. The installation wasn’t too difficult, once I figured out which image to use, and the web interface made the configuration painless.  It was easy to setup a WPA2-protected network, which worked great for our laptops and the Wii (the X-Box and TiVo don’t support WPA2).

Once I had a working encrypted wireless network, I started configuring the guest wireless network, and it was really tricky.  Tricky, but possible.  Isn’t that the way it is with Linux?  I’ve documented all the painful details, including 19 screenshots, after the jump.