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The Grumpy Editor's Tomato review

Jan 22, 2010, 13:27 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Your editor has just completed an important transition: moving his Internet connectivity from one evil branch of the local telecom duopoly to the other, equally evil branch. This change required the acquisition of a new router; that, in turn, provided the opportunity to play with Linux-based router software, and Tomato in particular. Read on for your editor's impressions of this impressive bit of (mostly) free software.

"Tomato has its roots in the original Linksys WRT54G firmware. This firmware was first distributed as if it were proprietary software, but Linksys, under heavy GPL-enforcement pressure, eventually made the source available under the GPL. The existence of this source, along with the ease by which the Linksys routers could have new firmware installed, led to the creation of a number of firmware distributions, all of which added new features and otherwise improved on the original Linksys offering. Over time, Linksys (Cisco) has incorporated some of these improvements; the [WRT54GL] company also continues to offer a special version of its basic household router (the WRT54GL) which is explicitly designed to allow firmware replacement.

"If a company is going to make a competitively-priced, Linux-based, user-hackable router, your editor feels an obligation to buy it. That choice is easy, but the choice of which replacement firmware to use is harder. There's a wide variety of offerings, including OpenWrt, DD-WRT, FreeWRT, and Tomato. There appears to no easy way to pick one in particular; your editor started with Tomato because the screen shots looked nice and the installation instructions were straightforward."

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