Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekend Wireless Warrior Project

Since my father just retired the router I setup for him in favor of re-aligning his IP schema with the generic defaults of the 2WIRE device included with his AT&T U-Verse subscription, I re-inherited one of my favorite toys, a pre-lawsuit Buffalo WHR-HP-G54.  I already had one in my possession (originally desiring to setup a PTP OpenVPN, but never configured it).  I recently swapped mine out to put in my old Apple AirPort Express so we could stream music to the home theater system.  So, now that I've got two good, hackable routers, it was high time to upgrade the firmware using DD-WRT.

Preparing For The Upgrade

After reading the latest documentation on the Peacock Thread, I prepared my system by running a 30/30/30 Reset.  This helps to completely clear the nvram and prep for what's essentially a "schema" upgrade for the settings in the nvram.  Ultimately, bricking can occur if this isn't done as settings can get jumbled between firmware revisions. (A situation I was bound to experience.)

Researching the Right Firmware

Choosing the most up-to-date, feature complete, and out-right compatible.  It's not as easy as visiting the latest router database.  Originally, I thought my device was running build 13064 (10/10/09) using the VPN feature-set.  This build has since been known to be rather unstable, in spite of still being recommended by the router database.

Much to my surprise, after performing the 30/30/30 Reset, my router reported it was running firmware 10011 (07/27/08) vpn!  This is running the following firmware and wl driver:
Linux DD-WRT 2.4.36 #310 Sun Jul 27 16:25:32 CEST 2008 mips
wl0: Jul 27 2008 08:31:25 version
Yes, its still running Linux kernel 2.4.  Do a little research, and you'll find significant issues with the K26 (2.6 series kernel) builds, as well as with the later wireless drivers (NEWD and NEWD-2).  The key point is that "NEWD won't work only on corerev=4 radios. You can run it on 5 and 7, just virtual wireless interfaces won't work in AP mode. All the rest work."

After copious amounts of research, I settled on the v24-sp2 build 14929 vpn firmware.  And the initial flash was successful!  Here's the kernel and wireless driver versions for that build, a minor upgrade at the least:
Linux DD-WRT 2.4.37 #13291 Thu Aug 12 02:58:35 CEST 2010 mips
wl0: Aug 11 2010 05:22:07 version
Cut By The Bleeding Edge

But it wasn't enough, I had to run the 2.6 kernel for improved memory management and a better scheduler!  After all, I've only got 200Mhz of MIPS power, pulling in a whopping 199.0 BogoMIPs!  According to this forum post, my device is compatible with the nokaid build of the K24 NEWD-2 firmware.  This is one of the very reasons I chose this model router back in the day.  It's simply got the best support, recoverability, an mod-ability.

Well, I chose the NEWD-2 K26 firmware build 14929 std nokaid.  Notice anything wrong?  Yes, I chose to jump from K24 to K26 with NEWD-2.  And I bricked it.  Thankfully, I backed up my CFE for best recoverability.  At this point, I need to get my device into maintenance mode and TFTP the last good firmware onto it.  I really don't want to solder on a JTAG.

And now my weekend warrior project is now locked into my desk at the office for a little lunchtime project.

No comments:

Post a Comment