Selecting and Flashing my Home Lab Router

It’s taken me a while to select and configure a router for my home lab environment. Part of the problem has been sorting through some conflicting requirements. For instance, I want to keep my power bills low but the functionality that I want demands something something a little hungry in that respect.

I also wanted to keep things as simple as possible in my home yet still giving me the flexibility to run lots of different software and setups.

screenshot10In the end I have selected the NetGear WNR3500L for the following reasons:

  • It doesn’t draw too much power
  • Meets the needs of my home lab and other home networking
    • Provides 802.11n wireless capability
    • Has gigabit ethernet ports
  • Most importantly, it can be flashed with alternative firmware

It is that last reason that is the most important to me. Most home broadband routers come with a variety of features but they do tend to be a bit limited really for what I want. However, when alternate firmware is used (e.g. DD-WRT), the feature set becomes a little richer. More on that another time.

For now, it’s just a case of getting the thing flashed.

The first stage of this is downloading the necessary files from the DD-WRT website. The default NetGear firmware doesn’t recognise the full firmware bundle so an intermediate update is required first.

The whole process takes upwards of 30 minutes to do correctly (including the reading). There is a WIKI article that describes the process well so I’m not going to repeat it here. It should be read thoroughly as there’s good reason to do the hard resets it mentions.

In the end though, I went from this:


to this:


The next step is to plug it in properly and configure the standard bits and pieces.