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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hey Dave, 
On the G. Carlin style rant. A literary masterpiece shouldn’t be altered. One of these days a tech archivist will stumble upon that piece, and say, “Oh my fucking god, that’s awesome, and so encapsulates that era.” Keep it, it’s under appreciated. 
I read about your struggles with your project, the time out of your life, and I’d guessed about the pull of other projects, and hard choices. It seemed to me that CERO was a best-kept-secret that everyone should hear about. Your system, which is more like an operating system, than firmware, felt right from the beginning, and ready for the next step, beyond mainline Linux and Openwrt, and on to mainline users. 
I see that you have a chicken and egg dilemma, in that too much of a good thing has several outcomes, so which do you choose? Sometimes funding is slow to come in the very early stages. You’ve had a rough time, funding and working at the same time. I thought that writing about it might bring publicity that would help with funding. Because routers are more important now, than before, I wondered why a tech journalist hadn’t picked up on your project. I see a few stories have begun to appear in the New York Times, and tech magazines about MESH.
MESH networks are socially important to places like Ferguson, MO, towns under duress. Just think what a crude but fast mesh could have meant to that community, and similar communities at risk for civil emergencies, or for that matter, survival after hurricanes or earthquakes or whatever is in our future, since our physical communication infrastructure is disappearing. Think about the Comcast merger that will determine the speed of WiFi or who is allowed to log on and who is not. I’m guessing not a profane blogger who wants to make an awesome point.
A MESH network, where nodes can be thrown up on demand, and healed when others go down, is the future. And, without the bloat, the CERO MESH is possibly easier and faster than other firmwares. And though it’s a bit complex for the average person, someone always knows someone who can help them with it. The Netgear router you’ve chosen is inexpensive, prevalent and usable, and that makes it easier for CERO to spread quickly after this most recent release. It’s good hardware.
Current router firmware is so full of holes that fixing one is like digging a deep hole in the ground, and throwing the dirt in behind us, only to have it fall right back in the hole, and fill it up again. Even after the Asus, Cisco, name it, debacle with USB and other flaws in router firmware, manufacturers don’t seem to get it. People have had enough disengagement with security, with buggy software that wasn’t well developed to protect them or speed up their connection. 
Your firmware is ahead of its time. That makes it difficult. We’re just learning how little manufacturers feel about customers, and how necessary it is to our everyday lives, for banking, relationships, shopping, and future lives, when  online medical consultations become ordinary, and maker communities design prosthetic limbs to print online, and a shitload of other services that we haven’t thought up, yet, happen online, but can’t do without.
All of this stuff, I’m sure you know, but it never hurts to say it again.  Feel free to reprint the stuff from my blog on you site or wherever it helps you. I’ll be following your progress with interest.

cisco m10

My daughter found an old Cisco Valet M10 router at a thrift shop for one dollar. She eyed the Cat5e cable that was attached, and it looked good. She knows that I’m always looking for patch cables, because I break the clips off the plugs from time to time, and the plug slips out of my router or laptop, and annoys me. So, she bought the Cisco Valet for it’s hefty, gray cable, probably thinking the router was worthless, and brought it home.

The Cisco blue-and-white router looks diminutive beside my old Linksys router, the WRT610N, and my newer Asus RT. The little Cisco router is famous for catching “The Moon” worm, a self-replicating, devil of a router infection, that jumps from one router to another. I’m not eager to mess with it. So, I research it, walk around it for a few days and say what the hell, let’s put DD-WRT on it.

For those of you who don’t know, DD-WRT is an alternative Linux firmware that replaces the buggy, insecure firmware that comes on 80% of the top 25 routers sold in the US. It will only work with certain routers, but when you get it right it’s incredibly flexible and secure. When you get it wrong you’ve bricked your router. Some can be resuscitated some not.

The Cisco Valet was offered for sale in 2010, and it was marketed as a mom router because of it’s ease of set up. A thumb drive containing the network configuration came packaged with the router. A user simply plugged the USB drive into the router, powered it up, and connected to the Internet, only it wasn’t that easy. The Cisco USB set up worked some of the time, but often people were frustrated with it, so you can still find a perfectly serviceable Valet router every so often.

The Cisco had 8 MB of flash memory. The Linux DD-WRT firmware I found was almost 4 MB, but it would fit, the serial numbers on the bottom of the router began with CVJO1K which meant it is Version 1, and compatible with DD-WRT, so that was a go. Play time! I thought I could make a repeater bridge out of the Cisco. It probably wouldn’t reach across the street as the Linksys 610N had when bridged, but it might serve as a back bedroom wireless extension.

I’d recently installed TomatoUSB by Shibby on my main router. Would tomato and DD-WRT play well together? Would they bridge and repeat together, or would I have to forward ports and finesse the whole thing, which I didn’t have the patience for. Although, there is quite a great collection of information out there about these two alternative router firmwares that I’d read in forums, this question about compatibility between the two when bridging hadn’t been mentioned. Maybe it was a non-issue, but so much with Linux is not trivial.

I’d bridged my original Asus router and my Linksys DD-WRT router with no problem. The repeating function not only reached through cinder block, but it crossed the street and into the far reaches of our neighbor’s home. This, however, was different. I’d just flashed TomatoUSB by Shibby on the Asus router, and I didn’t have the slick working original Ausus firmware to fall back on, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’d tinkered to get a bridge set up between tomato and DD-WRT, which is usually pretty easy, but still hadn’t gotten it to work.


The Cisco we bought for one dollar was so peppy and responsive, I had to try it. What did I have to lose if I wasted an old Cisco router, brick it in the name of fun, or maybe succeed at setting up a repeater bridge on it.

Because the router could have a virus or worm in it, I didn’t hook it up to my modem or the Internet. Instead, I hooked the cable that came with it into an old Acer laptop with Ubuntu Linux on it. I didn’t attempt to see if the USB worked, either. As a precaution, I planned to wipe out the Ubuntu desktop, and install a fresh version after I was finished playing, since I’m not sure how this worm propagates.

I connected the cable on the one end to the Cisco router, port 4, and on the other end to my laptop’s Ethernet port, to get a local connection without Internet to allow me to connect to my laptop so I could open the router settings page. I opened my Firefox browser by typed in the search bar, and hit enter.

As I remember, admin, admin was the user name and password. “Frank & Louise” still had their information in there, along with a Bell South email address, and IP address. Apparently, it was a Canadian router that had been dropped off in Florida. Lots of information left in the router for anyone.

The Cisco M10 settings page was simplistic, with not too many options. I went to the administration page, and backed up the original firmware in case the dd-wrt flash didn’t work. I downloaded dd-wrt.v24-18946_NEWD-2_k2.6_openvpn_small.bin made especially for the Cisco Valet M10. I uploaded the DD-WRT firmware through the Cisco restore option, as per the guideline, which also said that often the Cisco router dialog would send a message saying the firmware was the wrong version, or it could just hang there and not finish. Neither happened, it installed like it was the original software. I got a message saying the restoration had succeeded. The settings page on the Cisco looks very much like my Linksys DD-WRT settings page.

Once more I try to set up a repeater bridge, but this time I go back to the original guidelines at the DD-WRT website. My notes had been wrong. The Cisco repeated immediately. It worked with TomatoUSB without a blip. Only thing is it was working at around 12 mbs, and barely had two bars in our back bedroom. It should have ran at 54 mbs. We get up to 72 mbs as we get closer to our router. I went on to set up my Linksys-dd-wrt and the TomatoUSB repeater bridge with no problem.

A footnote to my Cisco M10 signal and speed: Later I set up the Netgear WNDR 3800 CEROwrt router. I plugged the Netgear router into the Ethernet slot beside the WAN in my primary router, the Asus RT-N16 with TomatoUSB by Shibby, and the signal in the far bedroom on the Cisco M10 popped up to 54 mbs. The signal was full bars.

I didn’t get any encryption to work. The CEROwrt is set up to the internal IP,, unlike the TomatoUSB, which is At any rate, apparently, the Cerowrt could connect with my encrypted Internet, internally without any encryption. And when it connected it boosted each repeater or bridge router in the system. So, the little router who could, did, it reached through walls.



Email to Dave Taht, CEROwrt

One of the reasons I wrote “Flash Netgear WNDR 3800CH Router with TORONTO CEROwrt 3.10.50-1” is that the dev/user area at CEROwrt seemed to have only a few users; although, dev was very active.

CeroWrt  3.10.50-1 is ready for wider use —  if a non-coding user like me is installing it. I tinker but I don’t  hack code; I’m an end user. And, as full of errors as the story below might be it’s still one of a half-dozen stories on old blogs about Cerwrt that might familiarize people who search Google for information about this latest version of Cerowrt.

DD-WRT users are a group who might benefit from it, at this point in its development, but there are others like me who aren’t on those forums but might be encouraged to try it, with help.

I’d like to see a broad based users group come together. As a system this version of Cerowrt is pretty sweet. I’m as excited about it as i was when i first saw Linux many years ago. Users help each other. I want that help. I’m not an early adopter. I come in later when a technology is just ready to be baked in but too soon for the timid.

Could the site make a more visible area that doesn’t seem as formidable. I don’t belong w/ the devs, and other people w/ these routers don’t feel comfortable w/ the devs, we kind of feel in the way. There are a ton of these Chinese routers out there w/ buggy stock firmware but nice not-too-dated hardware. Can you refer me to anyone who might want to enlarge this User Area?

Thanks, also for the link on civil liberty, George Carlin style.

I bought a $50 Chinese router from Amazon.

Netgear WNDR 3800 Router

Netgear WNDR 3800 Router, WAN thru LAN with CEROwrt

The WNDR 3800 is a capable router, it’s in good shape, and it works as it should. But, it is a WNDR 3800CH, Chinese router, not a WNDR 3800 NA, North American router. And, it seems more used than I expected, not by appearance but by the fact it was previously commercially owned by a cable company, not an individual. I did finally make this router work with an alternative firmware, which was my goal, but not the alternative firmware I’d originally wanted.

I bought the router to extend my network to a back bedroom, and to follow the EFF CEROwrt open router research and development projects. First I wanted to flash BrainSlayer’s DD-WRT on it, and maybe later, in a few months, play with the cutting-edge CEROwrt firmware. Nothing turned out as I’d imagined. I didn’t manage to flash BrainSlayer’s firmware.

I needed to downgrade the router to an earlier Netgear version, and this Chinese router is finicky about what firmware it accepts, unlike the North American version. And, though the Chinese WND R 3800 CH is cheap, keeping the original Netgear firmware is out of the question, it’s buggy and insecure, not to mention it’s Charter Communication’s firmware, which, if I’m not mistaken, leaves a back door for password changes when a customer cannot access their router.

The WNDR was advertised as new and open box without a setup CD. It came packed in a brown box that said, “used, like new, MADE IN CHINA.” The router was wrapped in clear cellophane with a white label for the Charter Communication’s SSID, MyCharterWiFi6a-2G, and password, cloudycanoe219.

The North American model’s last update was December 2013, and it was V1. This Asian model came with V1., a developer’s version. The guidelines for flashing DD-WRT onto the WNDR 3800 NA suggest downgrading to V1. so that the router can be flashed. Netgear added a marker to disallow installation of other firmware on their router after V1. I could not get the Chinese router to downgrade from the 51CH version to the earlier version.

I thought about boxing the router up and sending it back – the EFF site states that the CH version does not work with their research project, either. I did, however, find a very good CEROwrt CH version by a developer who changed some code, and engineered an up-to-date CEROwrt 3.10.50-1, with Heartbleed bug update, and other fixes. It’s referred to as the “ready to bake” version. It’s ready for the not-too-timid user to flash their primary router with, and use it day-to-day.

Toronto CEROwrt works great on the WNDR 3800 CH router; it’s tough, and kind of amazing. Turning the firewall on is a rush. It cascades down the page, live. The default password: Beatthebloat refers to removing the bloat to speed up the router, which apparently works. The link is snapon Lab Index of/~Cero2/test-wndr3800CH, and the code name is CEROwrt Toronto 3.10.50-1/LuCl Trunk, build 7/28/2014.

So, now I’m running a very fast TORONTO CEROwrt on the WNDR 3800 CH and wondering how to add a repeater bridge. It seems CEROwrt 3.10.50 CH doesn’t set up bridges in the old sense, it port forwards. It does repeat when I hook it into the Ethernet port on my primary router, the ASUS RT-N16 (TomatoUSB by Shibby). And, the speed tests done with the Netgear hooked into the Ethernet port of the Asus are far faster than done on the Asus alone.

After a week of tinkering, I have a router with an option for MESH, which I don’t yet understand, and a weird type of repeater, which I’m guessing is WAN through LAN (?), where I can plug or connect the Netgear WAN into the Asus Ethernet port 1 and use it for a DUAL LAN. This speeds up the wireless connections and increases signal for all the routers connected including the two additional Linksys routers that are repeater bridges.

The thing I haven’t figured out, is how and if I can add WPA2 to the WNDR 3800 WAN to LAN connection. And, this might not be in the spirit of Openwrt philosophy, but the WNDR 3800 won’t connect with encryption enabled while it’s hooked into the Asus Ethernet Port. Although, it has every kind of encryption combination you might want, and every service you might need, including, Polipio, a light, fast proxy, that runs by default, it can be overwhelming. The interface is slick, it’s professional, an unexpected gift. It’s a perfect fit for the WNDR 3800 CH.

This router wasn’t what I expected, but it’s definitely been fun, and now, it even seems rock solid. I might add there isn’t any going back to the original Netgear firmware after CEROwrt CH is flashed, unless maybe you download the CEROwrt V1. from a developer’s site, which I haven’t tried.

I backed up my original firmware but the CEROwrt declined to restore the backup. I ran a 30-30-30 to make sure old settings were gone. I waited 30 minutes for the flash to finish, and lost patience, and shut the router down. The Netgear router turned on and the lights flashed and I logged back on. The router with the CEROwrt seemed impervious to whatever I tried to do to it for about 4 hours of trial and error, to remove it. So, if you flash it you probably own it.

Would I buy the WNDR 3800 CH again? Yes. I wanted an inexpensive router that I could run alternative firmware on, and I didn’t want to pay over $50 for it. The router works like a new router, and I don’t like that it’s been used as much as it most likely has, but it is a powerful, older router that will most likely allow me to follow the EFF research and development as an offshoot, which will be interesting.

I do wish I hadn’t been surprised by the Chinese router. I don’t remember reading in the description that the router was Chinese not North American. And I’d like to read more war stories from early adopters who use TORONTO and it’s later iterations as a primary home router.