In a world where our routers look more and more like upside-down spiders than things you would like to have in your living room, there are only a handful of routers that may be considered “famous.” Steve Jobs’ efforts to sell AirPort—most famously by using a hula hoop during a product demo—definitely deserve notice in this category, and the mesh routers made by the Amazon-owned Eero probably fit in this category as well. But a certain Linksys router, despite being nearly 20 years old at this point, takes the cake—and it’s all because of a feature that initially went undocumented that proved extremely popular with a specific user base. Today’s Tedium talks about the blue-and-black icon of wireless access, the Linksys WRT54G. This is the wireless router that showed the world what a wireless router could do.
I’ve often pondered tinkering with this, but I’m terrible with anything related to networking – it seems like it’s a weird world of technology that exists on its own separate plane, disconnected from everything else. Networking is obtuse, and as long as our home network is functioning, I’m not touching it.
You don’t have to replace your current router with it just to tinker (and hopefully you wouldn’t want to, it’s a G-only device that would take you back to 2003 era speeds). I got my hands on one a few years ago for $5 thanks to a garage sale in my neighborhood. So far I’ve set it up as a WiFi-Ethernet bridge to get an older Pi online over WiFi, a packet sniffer/analyzer, and most recently an amateur radio Broadband HamNet node.
Ahhh the good ol’ WRT54G — I’m connected to a hacked one right now as I write this post. I honestly didn’t know speeds had improved much since I installed it; is the internet really that much faster now?!
Anyhow, the reason I like it is that I know I can probably tinker with it if I need it to do something special. Currently that’s restricted to turning off WiFi at night to reduce the microwave load in our house just a little.