Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Nerd fun

My house is wired (and wirelessed) with a Linksys WRT54G, a WiFi-G router that lets me connect the broadband connection to all of the desktops via ethernet and to my laptop via wireless. The device is cool in and of itself... but the folks at Seattle Wireless have figured out how to make it cooler. Fearlessly risking the possibility of turning their nice new expensive routers into nice new useless doorstops, they have probed the innards of the device and find that it is running a very stripped-down version of Linux, and they have developed tools for uploading your own code and executing it on the machine.

C.J. Collier and a number of people on the Seattle Wireless Developer's mailing list have created a number of tools to establish a shell on the router, upload files, and even push a mini-linux distribution up there so you can run your own code.

Rob Flickenger, who pioneered the creation of high-gain WiFi antennas made from Pringles cans, has also pioneered the creation of community supported 802.11b wireless networks through his program NoCatAuth, and guess what, he's managed to use the tools mentioned above to get a mini version of it running on the router. Right now it's an open portal, but in time it will be an authentication tool for controlling who is using your wireless resources.

And Jim Buzbee has done alot of work porting Snort (a packet-sniffer), a fancy webserver that can handle CGI scripts, and a VPN daemon (these allow you to run applications that normally only work on a LAN over the Internet) to the router.