Monday, July 12, 2010

Ah, Mom, I bricked my router!

Remember I was running OpenWRT on a Bufallo WLI-TX4-G54HP ? After playing with OpenWrt a bit I spent some time setting up a Ubuntu-based build environment to be able to build my own custom firmware.

There's no particular reason for building a custom firmware since the package I want to ultimately run fits on the JFFS2 partition. I just wanted to get my hands dirty. But gasp... the documentation for OpenWRT is sparse and disseminated in four areas: an unfinished HTML manual, an old Wiki, a new Wiki being slowly migrated from the old one, and the OpenWRT forums. One really has to spend some time reading through all of them to understand how everything works, and I've covered maybe 10% of that. And that's okay. I don't pay a cent for OpenWRT and it's a distribution targeted to power-users... If I wasn't looking for a challenge, I'd be running Tomato instead.

Anyway. It turns out that I bricked my device yesterday after flashing that darn custom firmware. I didn't solder a serial or JTAG port, wasn't really looking into doing this, so I couldn't do much to troubleshoot. One thing that no longer worked, and this was supposed to be my planned way out, was the 2-3 seconds it pings on when it's at the CFE bootloader so that I can TFTP a correct firmware. Since it no longer did this, I couldn't do that to unbrick it.

I was about to throw it in the garbage but found somewhere in the DD-WRT forums that some Buffalo routers listen to I tried this address and it worked! Now as to why it decided to listen to while the first time it was, I don't know. I must have pressed the reset button 50 times on this thing so who knows what it ended up doing.

Back to square one, I have a router that works, but no custom firmware.


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