Building a custom wireless router

Michael Torrie torriem at
Sun May 18 21:57:44 MDT 2008

Brad Midgley wrote:
> there's not already something out there that supports openwrt? you could 
> rebadge something like that and ship it with openwrt without so much pain.

I haven't found anything on the market yet.  There are lots of devices
that are pretty close.  For example, the Asus WL-500 GP.  However it's
not powerful enough to run DansGuardian (I've tried it).  The main issue
with all these routers is RAM.  A secondary issue is Flash storage.
DansGuardian, from my experience, requires 64 MB at least.  And for
black lists, any number of MB of flash.  Now I know there are lighter
solutions like SquidGuard, but personally I feel DansGuardian is the
better proxy.  Furthermore, most WAPs use broadcom wireless stuff, which
requires a binary blob kernel driver and are limited to kernel 2.4.

For starters, the Alix boards are ideal hacking platforms:
400 MHz processor (AMD Geode)
128 or 256 MB RAM
CF slot
MiniPCI so I can use any wireless... will likely use atheros for starters
2-3 ethernet ports

> If you want to start a venture that builds the hardware from the ground 
> up, you should be making a business case and looking for funding.

I'm not sure I want to be in business doing this.  We'll see.  I'm
currently trying to just judge the feasibility first.

At this point, I'd rather treat this as a personal project that other
hackers could do too.  Currently it looks like using stock Alix stuff,
you should be able to build a router for $200.  Now that's quite a bit
more expensive than a linksys router, but if you consider the filter
(commercial windows crappy filters like CyberSitter, besides sucking are
$40-60 per install) capabilities, it's definitely affordable for many
people.  I know most folks would be hesitant to spend more than $100 on
a router, but they're spending $40-60 a month on internet already.

I'll be getting hardware next week.  I'll update folks on how it's
going.  At some point I can see the need to establish a community to
develop and maintain the distribution.  That alone might be more
important than the hardware itself.

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