Earlier I tried using DDWRT, but after a lot of troubles with using packages and having seen the name ‘OpenWrt’ while searching for solutions quite a lot on the net, I thought… lets give it a try! I looked up information between the differences of DDWRT and OpenWrt and found that the packages can be a pain for DDWRT (which I already experienced). Especially, if you have a router that has an Atheros chipset. My router, a Linksys WRT160NL has an Atheros chipset and with DDWRT, I ran into a lot of errors.
DDWRT vs OpenWrt
DDWRT isn’t that bad at all, but see it as an upgraded version of the factory default web interface that Linksys offers on its routers. It allows to set up advanced network configurations, create extendable WiFi networks and do many more things, straight from the web interface. Next to that you can SSH and telnet into the router and do more advanced stuff. If you are a user that is looking for just that, DDWRT is your pick! However, if you want to do more with that, like running applications on your router, then I definitely recommend OpenWrt. Its web interface is less pretty compared to DDWRT, but it offers more low-level configuration. For instance, you won’t find a button ‘Port Forwarding’ in the web interface like you can find in DDWRT or the Linksys default web interface, but you will do find the ‘Firewall’ option, which offers much more options but with just a little extra complexity. And believe me, if you are a Linux user and looking for control over your router, OpenWrt is your pick.
From DDWRT to OpenWrt
Ok, so you made the choice to try OpenWrt, congratulations! The first thing you need to do with your router, is flash is back to the factory default firmware if it is not on there yet. Download it from the Linksys WRT160NL Support Page or use this direct link to download Ver.1.0.03 Build 2.
Also I recommend to note your settings of the current setup. You can then lookup settings later when you have al wiped them after the upgrade. For myself I have used Fireshot and took a ‘whole page’ screenshot of everything.
One last important thing: make sure you are connected to the router with a cable. Your WiFi connection will probably die on you after you have it upgraded.
Fetch the firmware file from the OpenWrt downloads page. At the time of writing 10.03.1 is the latest and I also recommend you to use that for your WRT160NL. This is because 10.03 at my router gave an error messages while flashing. 10.03.1 solved it. Get it here.
From the default interface, go to Administration and do a Firmware upgrade. Feed the firmware file of OpenWrt into the field where to select the file and hit upgrade. Now wait, be patient. Keep your router powered to avoid that it becomes a brick.
Huray, you have made the switch!