ddwrt vs Tomato
Posted by Umair Abbasi on March 1, 2009 in Technology
Let me start with explaining what dd-wrt is. It is a firmware for supported hardware routers to increase the number of features you can get out of your $30+ router easily turning it into having the same features and capabilities as a $600 router. Some prominent features include Kai Daemon for the Kai Console Gaming network, WDS wireless bridging/repeating protocol, Radius Authentication for more secure wireless communication, advanced Quality of Service controls for bandwidth allocation, and software support for the SD-Card hardware modification.
I have extensively used dd-wrt for a fairly long period of time. More precisely I would put it in between somewhere 2-3 years. The last version that I had used was dd-wrt v24 Special Edition SP1. I really had no complaints. My router a Linksys WRT54-GL v1.1 remained stable even at the highest usage times. There were rarely any crashes. It made my router extremely secure, especially with options such as using https protocol to log onto the router, option to limit logging into the router as admin only via ethernet connection, hence disabling any traffic sniffer to be able to log on to your router via wireless connection and changing access levels to his/her liking.
But what brought about my interest in Tomato was when I was searching for a way to record the logs to an external mySQL server through rflow. I got rflow working to the point where it was receiving all the netflow information and showing it to me in a nice graph or list view.
I feel rflow is too hyped up to be more than what it is. I wish there were tools more extensive that could use the information being sent through the router and elegantly show number of bytes being used by a connection, activity being performed on the connection and henceforth. Maybe rflow does have that option somewhere in there and I just haven’t been patient enough to look for it. Regardless I still feel there is a need for a better netflow software tool for the routers.
Whilst searching for a more robust netflow tool for my router I came across Tomato. The reviews were off the chart. The most prominent difference what I can feel, sense, observe is the faster connection speeds I am experiencing. Webpages are loading much more faster, and QOS is working like the way it should.
The setup was really easy, even moving up from a dd-wrt to a Tomoto firmware was seamless. It didn’t break anything. I found the layout of the configuration page so much more refreshing and far less overwhelming. The graphs are a pleasant addition to the whole firmware, where they show you different options such as real-time monitoring, last 24 hours, daily, weekly and monthly options.
The QOS on this firmware is just amazing. I have 2 laptops running vuze downloads, watching YouTube, browsing the Internet, chatting on MSN Messenger and everything is running without a hiccup. No single laptop is sucking up all the bandwidth, the router is distributing the requests efficiently and effortlessly. Below is a screenshot of an example of potential number of rules you can create for your setup.
In all honesty at the time of this writing I have only had the router running for less tha 72 hours. But the last 72 hours have proven to be promising. I think I am going to indefinitely stick to Tomato until the next better firmware comes around.
On a side note I still haven’t found a netflow software to my liking that would work with Tomato.
Update (02/23/2010): It has now been almost 12 months since my installation of Tomato and its still going strong with ZERO hiccups. I have never had to worry about resetting the router. Tomato is a winner in my books.