Last month I bought a Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH router and flashed it with DD-WRT open source firmware to use at my new home. However, I had problems with the router resetting itself periodically and with a weak WiFi signal. It appears DD-WRT for this router is not yet ready for prime time, though it may be in better shape by the end of the year.
Since I read that OpenWRT for the same router was fairly robust, I investigated switching from DD-WRT to OpenWRT. It turned out easier than I thought.
Using putty under Windows I did a ssh session to the router running DD-WRT. From there I downloaded the new firmware into the /tmp folder, trimmed off the 32 byte header and wrote the result to flash memory:
# cd /tmp
# wget http://downloads.openwrt.org/backfire/10.03.1-rc3/ar71xx/openwrt-ar71xx-wzr-hp-g300nh-jffs2-tftp.bin
# dd if=openwrt-ar71xx-wzr-hp-g300nh-jffs2-tftp.bin of=firmware.trx bs=32 skip=1
# mtd -r write firmware.trx linux
When the mtd command finished it dropped the connection to putty. I waited for the router to finish its reboot. Then I released and reacquired the IP address on Windows using ipconfig /release and ipconfig /renew. I launched the FireFox browser with 192.168.1.1 to configure OpenWRT. The first thing you should do once you’re connected to the web interface is assign an administrative password, because by default there isn’t one.
My next stumbling block was the fact that the WAN port had a different MAC address under OpenWRT than under DD-WRT. In DD-WRT the WAN and LAN ports on the WZR-HP-G300NH have the same MAC address, but in OpenWRT the WAN MAC address is larger by one. As a result DHCP from the ISP treated it as a new client that needed a new IP address, but the cable modem had already assigned its only IP address to the old MAC address. The solution was to pull the power cord from my Cisco cable modem, reconnect it and wait for the modem to reinitialize (watch the LEDs). Then do the same with the router. Reconnect ssh to the router and the WAN port has an IP address.
I also assigned Google’s open DNS server (126.96.36.199 / 188.8.131.52) to the router rather than leaving the default but I’m not sure if that was really necessary.
I set up the wireless SSID and selected WPA2 and a key. Finally I could specify transmit power to reach the whole building.
The OpenWRT UI doesn’t look quite as slick as DD-WRT, but it seems to work well and all the basic configuration seemed easy enough through the web interface. What I really liked best about the WHR-HP-G54 that this router replaces for me was its rock-solid reliability, followed by its WiFi coverage and feature set. With OpenWRT the WZR-HP-G300NH looks like a worthy successor to it.