After I recently relocated my home office to a different room, the TiVo and other Ethernet-hungry gear in our living room was no longer wired into our router. Normally in such situations, I’d get out the fish tape and drill and run some new Ethernet cable and take secret delight in using a punch-down tool on Levitron jacks, but living in a condo with concrete floors and neighbors upstairs, they’d probably get upset if I started boring through their floor with a hammer drill. I put off worrying about the problem until tonight, when our TiVo no longer knew what shows were on any channel anymore. I was afraid of what it might start recording.

Fortunately, I remembered I had an old Linksys WAP54G V2.0 that I formerly used my wireless access point when I ran my own OpenBSD router. I dug it out of a box and fired it up. The WAP54G has four connection modes: access point, wireless client, wireless repeater, and wireless bridge. However, as is clearly noted several places in the web management tool and the documentation, it can only work in the latter three modes if you pair it with another WAP54G or a Linksys WRT54G. I’m now using a Linksys WRT54G2 as my home router, so I was hopeful, but I’ll spare you details of three evenings’ experimentation with bridging that; the short story is that I couldn’t get the AP to connect in any mode.

In desperation, I decided to try installing dd-wrt, and open-source firmware. I wasn’t too worried about bricking the AP or voiding the warranty since it was useless to me anyway in its current, incapable state. After a little digging around in their router database and wiki, I decided to try out the V24 VINT micro firmware build (download here). It installed right away with no issues and booted right up.

Bingo! Now my formerly meager access point was a full-blown router. I set it up in Client mode and enabled the DHCP server and I was in business dishing out delicious packets to all my data-starved home entertainment equipment. I tried to set up DHCP forwarding to my main router, but I wasn’t able to get it to work; No matter, I don’t really care what IP and subnet my TiVo is on.

So, another warranty voided and another success for open-source software. Give dd-wrt a try and resurrect some of your old networking equipment.