October 18th, 2005

pce

Linux on my wireless access point!

Went to Ernakulam today to purchase a Linksys WRT54G wireless access point/DSL router and get the improved Phoenix box (Ajith has added a sample/hold and redesigned the front panel) from the Physics dept of Cochin University - relived some old memories by eating the same old half-burnt Masala Dosa from the coffee house.

The WRT54G is a cool little box which runs, yes - you guessed it, Linux!

It sports Broadcom BCM3302 CPU (MIPS family) and has 16Mb of RAM. Kernel version is 2.4.20. Now I can play with (and teach) MIPS assembly language and maybe do a few networking tricks!

There is a neat little package which uploads a few essential utilities (like a small shell, telnet daemon etc) to the ramdisk of the device - no fooling around with firmware - reset the device and everything gets back to normal! I installed it a few hours back and was able to telnet to the box (I had to configure the `Internet' port on the box with some dummy static IP address to get this working even though I am not using it to access the net - don't know why this is required). It's possible to set up a toolchain, compile a custom kernel and flash the firmware - but that's only after getting a feel of the device.

Here is a short interaction I captured with `typescript':


Trying 192.168.1.1...
Connected to wifi (192.168.1.1).
Escape character is '^]'.
***************************************************
                Welcome to the Wrt54g!
                   0.6 Jul 14 2005
***************************************************
BusyBox v1.00-pre2 (2003.08.30-16:40+0000) hush - the humble shell v0.01 (testing)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
/ # cat /proc/cpuinfo 
system type             : Broadcom BCM947XX
processor               : 0
cpu model               : BCM3302 V0.7
BogoMIPS                : 199.47
wait instruction        : no
microsecond timers      : yes
tlb_entries             : 32
extra interrupt vector  : no
hardware watchpoint     : no
VCED exceptions         : not available
VCEI exceptions         : not available
unaligned_instructions  : 0
dcache hits             : 178247809
dcache misses           : 1073737718
icache hits             : 4189813382
icache misses           : 4222879716
instructions            : 0
/ # exit

More on Linksys hacking later!

One thing you can't beat is the price - I got it for Rs.4200 (Gopu says its cheaper - 3500 in Bangalore - but maybe that's not including taxes and all).