Why I love and hate DD-WRT

It’s another why I love and hate posts, I actually like writing these.

Next up on the target list, DD-WRT. If you haven’t heard about DD-WRT, it’s a custom router firmware that pretty much adds superpowers to your router, and does lots of awesome things to improve your router’s awesomeness.

I’ve had DD-WRT on my Asus RT-AC68R for about 16 months now, and there’s a lot to love about DD-WRT, but some things I really hate about it.

 

The love part. For the most part, I’ve been doing some awesome things I couldn’t do without it. Doing really deep Wi-Fi customization is really, really nice to have. Having the option to Telnet/SSH into the router with full root is a nice feature, especially to have the top command to stare at when bored, and if a GUI restart is needed. Traffic monitoring is somewhat better on DD-WRT, but I liked on my stock firmware that it stored 24 hours of network activity, DD-WRT does ~5 minutes of scrolling activity, but on the flipside, it has day-by-day WAN traffic monitoring, and does traffic monitoring for every interface. Asus’ stock firmware only did 2.4 GHz only, 5 GHz only, and in total.

But hey, there’s more! Advanced logging is a nice feature on DD-WRT, it’s got damn easy DHCP reserves, a *really* complex QoS system with TONS of preset variables, speed limiting for QoS when you need a DSL throwback (or testing apps/sites for slow network speeds without needing tons of custom programs), really good WAN restriction management, built in PPTP/OpenVPN VPN services (PPTP turned out to be the easier to configure, but it’s REALLY insecure), JFFS2/CIFS support, and lots of other features.

 

But the hate part has to come, right? DD-WRT has brought instability (and lots of it) to my router. My router loves doing automatic restarts whenever it goes under load, and just sometimes plain acts up (like tonight, when I had to do a reflash with same settings, and turning on and off custom settings) until it forces you to spend 30 minutes for you to think “what did I do wrong now?”. The DD-WRT support is really hit-or-miss, for some issues/topics there will be tons of answers, and for others (like my random reboots), there isn’t much, and the Reddit response times for the subreddit are about a month or so. The wiki is really hit-or-miss, it could be updated wonderfully, or be really outdated. New builds of DD-WRT come out every 5 days, but you never use those, so besides the recommended build, it’s a plain minefield to find a stable and pretty much bug-free version of DD-WRT. Most parts of DD-WRT are just plain outright confusing (and consider me, I’m a poweruser) with hardly any knowledge on the topic, NVRAM is an issue with traffic monitoring (which is why I’m still creating a spreadsheet to free up NVRAM on traffic), in fact, the author at the “When I’m Bored Blog” had about 40% of his 32 KB NVRAM filled up with WAN traffic monitoring (except I have a 64 KB NVRAM module, and I still have ~17 KB remaining), and just the stability is a damn issue for me. I’ve never been able to pinpoint what the hell is making my router go ahead and randomly turn off whenever it feels like it (sometimes under zero load, it just reboots)

 

In conclusion, while I love and will keep DD-WRT, there’s just some parts that make me really frustrated and ponder me going back to stock firmware for stability. But, I’m keeping DD-WRT on my router, as it’s a really nice firmware to have, once it decides to tell us what the good firmwares are, and fixing stability at least for my router, that is.

 

(with site updates, there’s not been much. i don’t know where the color settings for my theme are)

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