The average home user probably doesn’t know how a router works, and they are probably even more unaware that it is essentially a small computer. This unawareness is leads to an ignorance of custom firmware, and for most people this is perfectly fine. Most people, after all, don’t want to change the way in which their router actually works. There are multiple advantages to changing these functions however, the first one being the ability to access all of the options within. Routers are shipped with many options, but most of them are available only to service representatives or savvy users. Okay, I think it’s time to stop mincing words here: companies like Linksys dumb down access to their routers to ensure people don’t make mistakes, and they’re right to do so. The problem is that it leaves those who went to information technology school at a bit of a loss, which is where custom firmware comes in.
Getting a Better Range – An Information Technology School Basic
Custom firmware gives you more flexible access to the options in your router. This includes a more advanced port forwarding interface, access to wave forming, subnets, and virtually anything else you would need to make your experience a bit better, and definitely more acceptable for the experienced computer guru. I don’t know of any techie that hasn’t installed custom firmware at some point but all of that might be coming to an end. That might be a bit of an exaggeration at the moment, but if you take a look at the DD-WRT website, you will notice that the FCC has begun to intervene with router production, now requiring router makers like Linksys, Cisco, and D-link to lock down their devices. In the end this would only be a minor change which would prevent users from increasing their RF settings outside the allowed spectrum.
If you’re unsure as to what that means, it basically implies that the range of your wireless device will remain completely fixed rather than being able to be increased to reach every single corner of your home. To be clear, this increase can in fact be a bit ridiculous, I was able to supply half my block with wifi once (unintentionally of course), and this is being frowned upon by the FCC for obvious reasons. For one thing, it creates a bit of a nuisance, and for another, it can interfere with the normal operation of devices within the area. On the front of the DD-WRT website you will see that they are encouraging their users to send their opinions to the FCC and express their point of view. Whether or not this will work is up in the air, as well as whether or not it should work. One of the problems with making that type of technology available to the general public is that eventually, someone will mess it up, or do something stupid, so to speak. The only question we’d have to ask, is what happened to make the FCC get involved? This is definitely a great topic of discussion for any information security school.
Bringing Router Modification into the Mainstream
The last point we’d like to mention, and one that you would definitely be discussing at information technology college at some point is that DD-WRT is forming a working relationship with Linksys to make for better WRT support in upcoming Linksys routers. There are many reasons behind this cooperation, but in the end, it means that WRT will function much better in the future. As far as other custom router firmware is concerned, only time is going to be able to tell.
Whether or not you support the development and deployment of custom router software in a home environment is a bit of a moot point, but you can be rest assured that the future will be interesting. It’s a point of discussion in information technology school and something that we’ll have to watch out for in the future. Remember, software like DD-WRT can be useful in commercial environments, so we’re not quite sure if we’ll see a future where it is only available commercially, or if it will even be free anymore. Stay tuned.
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