DD-WRT – What is it?
- Open-source firmware that unlocks a router’s full capabilities and adds an enormous number of features generally not included by manufacturers in stock firmware.
- Compatible with large number of routers like ASUS, Netgear, Buffalo, Linksys, TP-Link etc.
- Standardises the user experience across multiple devices and brands so that any knowledge and skills a person acquires with DD-WRT are instantly transferable to any new device.
Choosing a router
ASUS remains my current favourite brand for routers. They may be a bit pricier but the build quality and industrial design remains attractive. The stock firmware is usually decent, and loaded with ASUS Merlin you actually have a robust, high-performance router to use with our local ISPs. (Singnet/M1/Starhub/Viewqwest/MR in Singapore), (Unifi/Maxis/Time in Malaysia). They release custom localised firmware for use with IPTV set-top boxes, so your SingTel TV or HyppTV will work.
The ASUS AC68U has a Dual-core 800MHz BCM4708 ARM-based SoC chip, compared to the dated BCM4706 MIPS-based SoC chip used on the AC66U (and the older N66U as well). For heavy VPN traffic usage, the faster SoC will be beneficial. It is available at S$319.00 (RM957.00) from Challenger.
Which DD-WRT Version to Use
- Link to ALL current DD-WRT firmwares: ftp://ftp.dd-wrt.com/betas/2016/ . Higher build number is newer (r22000 is newer than r21000) and find the model of your router (e.g asus-rt-ac68u/) and download the .trx file.
- For this tutorial i’m using using a relatively stable r28846 firmware for the AC68U. Direct download link here.
Installing DD-WRT on the RT-AC68U
Thanks to hard work on the part of the DD-WRT developers, this is an easy and straightforward process (the confusing wiki page not withstanding).
- Download the firmware of your choice to your machine that will be attached to the router. When upgrading from the stock ASUS firmware out of the box, you will need to download the official DD-WRT “Brainslayer” build’s TRX firmware file first to get DD-WRT up and running on the AC68U, before you can try other builds like “Kong” (more on this later)
- Attached the PC to the ASUS RT-AC68U via ethernet cable to a LAN port.
- Enable Telnet by going to Advanced Settings > Administration > System > Enable Telnet and click on “Apply“
- Open a command prompt of your Windows machine (need to enable Telnet client) or Mac Terminal, and type:
Then enter your username and password for the router admin panel.
- Now clear NVRAM by typing:
- Reboot the router now by typing:
- Navigate to the firmware update in the web GUI of either the stock or DD-WRT firmware to upload the chosen firmware. We will use the .trx firmware file we downloaded for the AC68U to do a first time install over the stock ASUS firmware.
- Wait for the router to reboot after the upload. This may take up to 10 minutes (7 minutes for the unit used for this article). If the web GUI can be accessed via a browser, then the device is rebooted.
- Wait until the router is fully rebooted. Router is now DD-WRT flashed and ready to go! Enable “Telnet Management” or “SSH Management” is from the DD-WRT “Administration” section, it is much easier to erase NVRAM once more:
- Telnet/SSH to your router (default IP is 192.168.1.1).
- Log in with username “root” and whatever password was set in the web GUI. (Note the username is not “admin”)
- Enter the following commands to do a nvram reset and restart the router
Wait for your router to finish rebooting and viola! Your router is now DD-WRT equipped and the massive amount of features and customisation for you explore beings now.
After loading DD-WRT on the AC68U, i also downloaded the latest r29200M Kong build of DD-WRT. It is available from his repository at: http://www.desipro.de/ddwrt/K3-AC-Arm/
The BIN file suitable for the AC68U is dd-wrt.v24-K3_AC_ARM_STD.bin. Direct download link here.