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I gots me more power

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johnhattan

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To quote Butthead, "I like things that are cool", and I just found something cool.

A while back, a buncha hacker-types figured out that Linksys's wireless routers were cool because they're actually tiny Linux boxes, helped by Linksys dutifully giving away the source code to the box's firmware. Hence there are now a half-dozen replacement Linksys firmwares out there that'll do all kinds of interesting stuff. The king of the hill is a commercial one that'll convert your router into a full-fledged commercial hotspot, with the ability to make time-limited channels, unevenly part out bandwidth, and other stuff that'd be awfully handy if I was planning to share bandwidth with the locals.

But I ain't doing any of that.

There was, however, one feature that caught my eye, and that was the ability to increase or decrease the signal strength. Since WiFi and steel-framed houses aren't the best mix, the ability to pump up the output strength was attractive. Unfortunately since the plethora of features in the commercial firmware comes at the cost of increased complexity, and we've got too much network dependence for me to take it down for any significant time, I never bothered to take the plunge.

Enter http://www.hyperwrt.org/, which was promised in some message boards to be just as easy as the Linksys stuff to set up. And free on top of that.

Bottom line is that they weren't kidding that it was easy. After uploading new firmware, I was presented with exactly the same menus as before. All my settings were preserved so I didn't have to go back and re-set up the encryption and such. The only differences I noticed were the version number and a new combobox that allowed me to set the output strength. I moved it from 50% to 83% and my little on-screen signal meter immediately jumped from "good" to "excellent".

To quote the script-kiddies, woot.

I've been careful about only using 900Mhz or 5Ghz phones in the house, so hopefully I won't notice any signal leaks. I'm just quite happy that I got for free what I was considering paying for --a wireless signal booster.

This is my third Linksys router (going from wired to 802.11b to 802.11g), and I couldn't recommend 'em higher. In the >1 year that I've had this latest one, I've had to reset it exactly three times (two times for power brownouts and once when I moved). They cost a few bucks more, but they're worth every penny.
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