Posted by Deliverator on June 15th, 2007
The WRT54GL has long been a staple for low cost, custom use wireless projects. Some of the chief factors for its popularity were its low cost, widespread availability and robust functionality provided by 3rd party firmware projects like DD-WRT and OpenWRT. Previously, these 3rd party firmwares were targeted at the WRT54G/GS, but Linksys drastically crippled these devices as of about hardware revision 5, introducing externally identical models by the same name but with drastically decreased internal flash and ram. Linksys kept the price on these new, less capable WRT54G’s and GS’s the same and shortly thereafter introduced a new model, the WRT54GL. The WRT54GL is essentially hardware identical to a pre-nerf WRT54G version 4. Unfortunately, the WRT54GL has not been as widely stocked as the pre-nerf WRT54G’s. Also, Linksys decided to raise the price on what they used to sell for around $50 to more like $70. I currently know of 3 stores in the greater Seattle area which stock the WRT54GL: Fry’s in Renton, Computer Stop and Amazon. These stores usually only keep 3-6 of these on hand, so a single person coming in with a “project” in mind can wipe out their stock for weeks on end. These factors have caused many people to look for a replacement for the WRT54GL.
A recent post on the DD-WRT announcements page reveals that a possible sucessor may have been found in the Buffalo WHR-G125. This model is just coming onto the market as a replacement for Buffalo’s previous WHR-G54 series and should be widely available via mainstream retail channels soon. The WHR-G125 has a lot going for it. It is inexpensive at a mere $46, contains 4 MB of flash and 16 MB of ram like the WRT54GL and features both a faster processor and a more modern, more sensitive WiFi chipset. There will also be a high power version of the product for $20-30 more, which contains an amplifier and detachable antenna, but is otherwise identical.
I managed to pick one of these up at Fry’s the other day and have been putting it through its paces, since. The WHR-G125 has been supported by a new beta build of DD-WRT for about a month. Flashing DD-WRT onto a Buffalo WHR-G125 involves a different flash procedure than the WRT54GL. I initially tried simply uploading the dd-wrt firmware through the web interface, but apparently the web interface rejects non-certified firmware uploads. I had a hard time finding instructions on flashing the WHR-G125 specifically, but eventually found some generic flashing instructions for Buffalo devices on the DD-WRT wiki which proved successful. Essentially, you need to tftp the firmware image to the device immediately after applying power. There is a pretty narrow window during which the device will accept a tftp upload. I found the timing which worked for me to be “connect ethernet to a LAN port > pull the power plug > press and hold the reset (“INIT”) button > start the TFTP > plug the power back in > let go of the reset button.”
I am not quite ready to substitute this new router for my tried and true WRT54GL, but even with beta code, it has proven stable to about as much abuse as I could throw at it. This will hopefully prove to be a new device to add to the bag of tricks.