Upgrading Linksys E4200 with Tomato Firmware

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.

Linksys E4200

The Cisco Linksys E4200 – good hardware bad Cisco firmware

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:

tomato-E4200USB-NVRAM60K-1.28.0497.1MIPSR2-Toastman-VLAN-RT-N-VPN.bin

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!!

Robert

5 thoughts on “Upgrading Linksys E4200 with Tomato Firmware

  1. Scott Neill

    Is the version you uploaded one of the 2013 versions? Here are the versions i found and im not sure which one to use.
    Cisco – E4200 (NVRAM60K) VLAN-VPN-NOCAT (only for v1 with serial = 01C10C)
    Cisco – E4200 (NVRAM60K) VPN-NOCAT (only for v1 with serial = 01C10C)
    Cisco – E4200 (NVRAM60K) VLAN-VPN-NOCAT (only for v1 with serial = 01C10C)

    Reply
    1. Robert McCarter Post author

      Hey Scott,

      Your first and third entries are the same, so I can only comment on the 1st vs the 2nd.

      You probably don’t need the VLAN capabilities, and I doubt you would need the NOCAT capabilities either.

      So to simplify I would probably grab the 2nd one.

      According to the Tomato Firmware homepage the current version is still 1.28. Normally I’m seeing the version number embedded in the file-name, but I don’t see any dates. When I log in I can see the build date in the about page: Built on March 31 2012.

      There’s a Tomato page of links, which includes a collection of builds by Toastman. There you can find a collection of downloads for the E4200, including text files at the bottom detailing the different versions.

      For your needs I would guess you could just use a STD version (again, I doubt you would need the VLAN). My guess is you want:
      http://www.4shared.com/file/TDLnpBWa/tomato-E4200USB-NVRAM60K-12805.html.

      Good luck!

      Robert

      Reply
  2. Christopher Tsang

    The firmware download is a TRX file. I’m confused because I thought it should be a .bin file. Help?

    Reply
  3. Jun

    hey robert
    I was wondering if you could help me….i have a e4200 v1…upgraded to tomato firmware….i first installed the #1, i was able to connect to the net, but unable to setup open vpn… so i changed it to firmware #2…

    #1 tomato-E4200USB-NVRAM60K-1.28.0502.1MIPSR2Toastman-RT-N-VLAN-VPN.bin
    #2 tomato-E4200USB-NVRAM60K-1.28.0501.3MIPSR2Toastman-RT-N-VLAN-VPN.bin
    Again i tried to set up my open vpn but still with this firmware it does not work… i went to status tab and it does not show anything about connecting.. I have HMA VPN… i did try to follow their tutorial but nothing seems to be working. What’s worst is that my router now is not connecting to the internet..so i have the modem directly wired to my laptop instead from my router just to get connected….

    What would be your suggestions?..am i using the wrong firmware… i have shibby and toastman to pick but afraid that i’d have to changed my router back to stock linksys firmware everytime i try to change my tomato firmware.

    Reply
    1. Robert McCarter Post author

      Hey Jun,

      As I mentioned, I’m using toastman. I haven’t tried to get any kind of OpenVPN working.

      Robert

      Reply

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