I know I am supposed to blog about the all the trips I took but wanted to get this down before I forget what I did to get the install working. I will post about the trips soon. I promise 🙂
Installing an alternate firmware on my router is something I have been meaning to do for a few years now but never really had the incentive to investigate in detail as the default firmware worked fine for the most part and I didn’t really miss any of the special features I would have gotten with the new firmware.
Yesterday my router decided to start acting funny, basically every time I started transferring large files from my phone to the desktop via sFTP over wifi the entire router would crash after about a min or so. This is something that hasn’t happened before and I have transferred gigs of data so I was stumped. Luckily I had a spare router lying around thanks to dad who forced me to carry it to Bangalore during my last visit. So I swapped the old router with the new one and got my work done. This gave me an opportunity as I had a spare router sitting on my desk and some time to kill so I decided to install a custom firmware on it to play with it.
I was initially planning on installing dd-wrt on it but their site was refusing to let me download the file for the RT-N53 model even though the wiki said that I should be able to install it. A quick web search suggested that folks have had a good experience with the Tomato by Shibby firmware so I downloaded and installed it by following these steps:
Download the firmware file
First we need to download the firmware file from the Tomato Download site.
- Visit the Tomato download Section
- Click on the latest Build folder. (I used build5x-138-MultiWAN)
- Click on ‘Asus RT-Nxx’ folder
- Download the ‘MAX’ zip file as that has all the functionality. (I used the tomato-K26-1.28.RT-N5x-MIPSR2-138-Max.zip file.)
- Save the file locally
- Extract the ZIP file. The file we are interested in is under the ‘image’ folder with a .trx extension
Restart the Router in Maintenance mode
- Turn off power to router
- Turn the power back on while holding down the reset button
- Keep holding reset until the power light starts flashing which will mean router is in recovery mode
Set a Static IP on the Ethernet adapter of your computer
For some reason, you need to set the IP address of the computer you are using to a static IP of 192.168.1.2 with subnet 255.255.255.0 and gateway 192.168.1.1. If you skip this step then the firmware upload fails with an integrity check error.
Upload the new firmware
- Connect the router to a computer using a LAN cable
- Visit 192.168.1.1
- Login as admin/admin
- Click Advanced Setting from the navigation menu at the left side of your screen.
- Under the Administration menu, click Firmware Upgrade.
- In the New Firmware File field, click Browse to locate the new firmware file that you downloaded in the previous step
- Click Upload. The uploading process takes about 5 minutes.
- Then unplug the router, wait 30 seconds.
- Hold down the WPS button while plugging it back in.
- Wait 30 seconds and release the WPS button.
Now you should be using the new firmware.
- Browse to 192.168.1.1
- Login as admin/password (if that doesn’t work try admin/admin)
- Click on the ‘reset nvram to defaults’ link in the page that comes up. (I had to do this before the system started working but apparently its not always required.)
Configure your new firmware
That’s it, you have a router with a working Tomato install. Go ahead and configure it as per your requirements. All functionality seems to be working for me except the 5GHz network which seems to have disappeared. I will play around with the settings a bit more to see if I can get it to work but as I hardly ever connected to the 5GHz network its not a big deal for me.
The following sites and posts helped me complete the install successfully. Without them I would have spent way longer getting things to work:
Well this is it for now. Will post more later.