DD-WRT vs Tomato: Clear choice?
While I spend much of my time helping others keep their wireless infrastructure up and running at full capacity, I like many doctors who often do not take time to tend to their own health needs, seem to neglect my own. So, a couple of weeks ago after a month or more of wireless issues, I decided to tend to my patient.
My first chore was to determine whether the faulting device was the WAP or the clients. So, I updated the clients’ drivers. That helped, but did not solve the connected but no WAN/LAN access. So, I then turned my attentions to the WAP. In my case, this was a Linksys WRT54G v2 running in AP mode on my network while running a very out of date version or Hyperwrt. I decided that another 3rd party firmware solution was in order. Since I have not been following the development of 3 party firmware, research was the way to go. My research, led me to one known and one newcomer solution: DD-WRT and Tomato.
I started my journey with DD-WRT. The flash went OK using the mini and then the full version. Here is my impression after a week of using it:
- Feature rich- DD-WRT has more features than either other that I’ve seen. In fact, this is good news and bad news. The good news is that if you have a need for the features and if you are very secure in your networking skills, then this may be a good choice for you. If you are not as networking savvy or don’t need the feature set offered, then either leave the default settings or try another solution.
- Interface slow- In my week-long experience, I found that all those features came at a price– GUI response. Pages seem to be sluggish to load and just did not feel very responsive. While that did not seem to translate into wireless performance, it was still a little annoying.
- Slow to acknowledge clients- I did not research the issue too much, but wireless clients did not seem to grab an IP as fast as with other solutions. Not a critical issue, but worth noting.
- Reboots required- It seemed that every little configuration change required a router reboot. That is very annoying when you have constant wireless traffic from clients that must stop for you to simply change a minor setting.
Next, I tried Tomato. Here is what I found:
- The Ajax- The GUI in tomato is very slick and has an Ajax look and feel. That will certainly appeal to those who are looking for a GUI that is pretty. Speaking of pretty…
- Charts/Graphs- The bandwidth monitor creates nice, clean graphs. Those are not only nice to look at, they are useful as well. Since I have not been running Tomato long, my graphs are flat. That’ll soon be changing.
- Not as many features- Tomato, does not have many of the hard core goodies as does DD-WRT. However, I have found that it does have the core feature set that most average SOHO and family users will need. It certainly surpasses those found in the stock firmware.
- Navigation- While many report that they found navigating Tomato was easier that other firmware, including the stock Linksys solution, I found the opposite. Call it old school, but I can’t seem to find the things that I am looking for where I am looking for them. And when I do find them, I don’t remember where. That, however, may be a function of the operator rather the firmware.
So, where do I stand? For most users looking for a solid, third party solution to their Linux based wireless device, I’d recommend Tomato unless you need more functionality than it offers and know how to utilize those extras.
Purchase a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router