Low-end home routers are typically very poor, so 1½ years ago I bought a high-end Cisco/Linksys E4200. While I was living in the city this router was rock solid, wireless connectivity was great (unlike my previous router) and I basically didn’t think about it. Then I moved to the country, and my internet was up-and-down like a yo-yo. We couldn’t watch Netflix without 5 or 6 interruptions and retries.
The only thing that had changed – I thought – was the new internet service provider (ISP). So I called them, and talked with them, and complained, and nothing. Last week one of their technicians said, “Just do me a favour, and go directly from your computer to the modem”. I figured this was a waste of time, because the router had been so rock-solid while I lived in the city.
To my surprise, the internet was suddenly rock-solid and my download speeds increased about 2 Mbps!
So it was the Linksys router! A quick internet search revealed a Cisco forum with many complaints that the router didn’t work correct with PPPoE. Bingo. The good news here is that I could fix the problem – I didn’t need my ISP to solve it for me. But how to fix it? I didn’t want to fork over more money for a new router that had new problems I didn’t know about.
Open source router firmware for the Linksys E4200
The Cisco Linksys E4200 v1 has the Broadcom BCM4716 chipset.
This InfoWorld article discusses 6 open-source router firmware options. Some research into DD-WRT made it obvious that it may or may not work with the Linksys E4200. However, a search for “Linksys E4200 Tomato” immediately revealed that Tomato would work with the v1 version of the router (not the v2, which uses a different chipset). I found the firmware here and easily uploaded it to the router.
This was the file I downloaded:
and installing it with the default Cisco firmware upgrade GUI (under Administrative menu option) was trivial.
I then did a 30-30-30 reboot, which is pressing the reset button on the router for 30 seconds, unplugging it while still holding the reset button for 30 seconds, and then plug it back in while still holding the reset button for 30 seconds.
Then I went to http://192.168.1.1 and logged in with admin/admin. I enabled DHCP, configured PPPoE and everything – including the 5GHz – is working wonderfully. I’ve been connected consistently for several days now, and it’s wonderful.
So I would like to thank the Tomato group and Toastman for building such a slick open-source router firmware. Thanks guys!!