Sunday, June 20, 2010

Running OpenWrt on a WLI-TX4-G54HP

I have an on hand a Buffalo WLI-TX4-G54HP. This is a wireless-to-ethernet bridge. What that bridge does is acually the reverse of an access point: it lets you plug any device that doesn't support wireless, such as an old Xbox, and connect it to a wireless network. I actually used it with my locked-down corporate laptop which had its wireless fuction "deactivated for security reasons". :-)

I was thinking of purchasing a WRT-54GL or an Alix board. The WRT54GL, being a hobbyist device, is pricey for what you get (even on eBay) and I was hesitant. Since I had that Buffalo bridge doing nothing, I thought that I might as well hack it with an alternate firmware and see what I can do with it.

The WLI-TX4-G54HP is not specifically documented as runnable with a third party firmware, my take is that not many of these bridges have been sold so nobody reported it. Yet I found some specs hinting me that it was running on a Broadcom 5352 which is the same as the chip used in the WRT54GL. It also has the same amount of RAM and flash, which is a good thing. So sure enough, there were some Buffalo routers based on the 5352 that were officially supported by OpenWrt, but no mention of the WLI-TX4-G54HP. I decided to take a chance and flash it anyway. And it worked:

The only method of flashing OpenWRT on this device is to use the TFTP method. There are no signed firmware available that you can install from the router's webpage. It worked on my first try using tftp.

That's it for now. I'll do some more tests as time permits, and will see how I can submit that device in OpenWrt's compatibility lists.

Why OpenWrt? And why not Tomato or DD-WRT? Because from what I've seen until now, OpenWrt seems to be the most "open" solution available. All source code is available and GNU licensed. Furthermore, it has a lot of command-line interfaces and is targeted to experienced Linux admins.

N.B. If you're running Windows 7, you'll notice there is no longer a tftp or telnet client included as with Windows XP. Look here for a quick fix to include them:


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