I did a fair amount of research recently to identify what brand router I should buy that would support DD-WRT. My main reason to run DD-WRT? I wanted to run an OpenVPN client that would support a Commercial VPN Service like the one offered by StrongVPN. Having the OpenVPN client on a dedicated piece of equipment is a big plus as it ensures all traffic is tunneled over the VPN. I have been “burned” in the past running a an OpenVPN client directly on my computer only to find out something wasn’t being tunneled. Plus with it on the router several computers can leverage the VPN service simultaneously.
I was happy to find the Netgear N300 / WNR3500L worked like a charm and was under $100 too.
Getting DD-WRT installed was pretty painless. I basically followed the instructions posted here.
I purchased the Netgear N300 aka WNR3500L from a local office supply store. I couldn’t find any version info on the packing, but it did say WNR3500L. Be careful because for some reason the “N300” seems to be a class of device with several models under it.
Remember you won’t have Internet while you do the firmware updates, so you need to do some prep work.
Download a copy of the .chk version firmware and the main firmware you plan to load. I chose these:
Make sure you understand the 30-30-30 procedure. Which is essentially this:
- Make sure you have something to firmly depress and hold the reset button on the router without it slipping in your fingers or off the little button down inside the case. I cut a tine off a plastic fork which worked marvelously.
- With the unit powered on, depress and continue to hold down the reset button on the router (wait 30 seconds)
- Next, disconnect the power from the router, make sure you do _not_ let go of the reset button (wait 30 seconds)
- Re-connect the power and continue to hold down the reset (wait 30 seconds)
- Overall you will hold the reset down for 90 seconds continuously.
Once you prep-work is done, you are ready to do the firmware upgrade:
- Un-pack your WNR3500L aka N300 and connect the ethernet cable to your computer
- Set a manual IP address to 192.168.1.10, no need for gateway or dns info
- Make sure your wireless adapter on your computer (of you have one) is disabled/turned-off.
- plug-in and give the router some time to boot, nothing should be connected to it except your computer
- After a bit open your browser and go to http://192.168.1.1 and login with username: admin password: password
- Click Maintenance > Router Upgrade
- Un-check the automatic firmware update box
- Click Browse and find the. chk firmware you downloaded
- Click Upload. Be patient, do not interrupt this process. Wait 5 minutes!
- Close your web browser
- Do a 30-30-30 reset
- Open your web browser and go to http://192.168.1.1
- Set the username and password to something easy, since you are going to flash the firmware again. I chose “root” and “password” for the username and password fields respectively.
- Go to Administration > Firmware Upgrade
- Click Browse and find the non .chk firmware you downloaded
- Wait 5 minutes and perform another 30-30-30 reset
- Close your browser, and re-open http://192.168.1.1
- Set your username and password to something strong and start tweaking!
Once you have your ISP settings in place and tweaked your wireless settings, etc. you can setup your OpenVPN client. The nice thing about StrongVPN is that they give you a script you can run on the router in the command area of the dd-wrt menu which sets up the client and does all the hard work for you.
For me, one more reboot and I was done!