DD-WRT Powers the Home Network

I wrote about how I use pfSense as my home gateway system but that is no longer true. I have replaced pfSense with DD-WRT which uses iptables rules customized for DD-WRT and my own personal choices of configuration options which suit my home networking needs. I am not looking to start a flame war so I will start out by saying there is nothing wrong with pfSense, but the hardware I was running it on. I like having a more advanced home network, but only on the cheap and, most importantly, the hardware didn’t provide the features I was looking for.

My pfSense server was an old Dell Inspiron 4000 laptop with only two network ports. The BIOS didn’t have the option to restart after a power failure and the display doesn’t work. I didn’t consider the setup easy to troubleshoot for novices knowing how ISP supports expect that little blue box in every home. Should someone call an ISP for tech support, the ISP would tell the troubleshooter to power cycle the home router and the ISP would be more likely to describe the Linksys router than a Dell laptop on the network. I simply don’t consider this a user friendly piece of hardware. For home networking, I have always preferred to use hardware built for the task. You can find a really nice micro-ATX board, case, and accessories to build a pfSense hardware solution, but that comes to well over $300 US and I didn’t see any benefit to spending that kind of money for home use.

So, my goal was to replace the server with something that has 5 ports, powers on after fail, is easy to power cycle, and is gentle on the wallet. I’ve known about the replacement firmwares for home based routers, but I really loved how feature packed pfSense was in comparison. DD-WRT provides all of the features I wrote about in my Home Network Features article so I still have PPTP and OpenVPN support. Additionally, I also get VLAN support which enables me to make a DMZ on a switch port for my home server. I haven’t done so at the time of this publication, but my plan is to use the VLAN feature in a port on its own subnet eliminating the need for two gateways so the design will have one gateway serving the whole network.

You will often see many advocates of PC based routers tell you those “little blue boxes” are toys and you should use pfSense or Untangle to get any real performance. Keep in mind that I worked at an ISP in the old days using a 200 mHz Pentium Pro as the gateway router and it handled tons of traffic.  Those little blue boxes have enough power for most home users and room to spare. Take a look at the resource diagram and note that there is ample memory, CPU, and storage space.


Broadcom Resource Usage for CPU, Memory, and Storage


DD-WRT Traffic Graph


DD-WRT Assignable VLAN Ports


Forward Ports to pfSense DMZ Server

Signal strength is also available in this GUI.


DD-WRT Signal Strength

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About David Crumpton

Computer Enthusiast
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4 Responses to DD-WRT Powers the Home Network

  1. Greg says:

    Never had any reboot or uptime issues with any of the builds I have used on my DIR-825. maybe a router choice issue.

  2. ashconllc says:

    still running DD WRT on your edge? You might want to try out some of the tomato variants. I personally like the toastman / tomatousb builds, because of their QoS, VLAN, IP traffic monitoring, etc. DD-WRT and I have had a long history, filled with lots of tweaking, rebooting, and ultimately, a general state of instability. i think you might find the tomato refinements will suit your home network needs well and provide a bit more uptime to focus on other things.

    i still recommend something like pfsense or smoothwall as your main edge defense. you can configure it as a virtual machine if you don’t have the hardware, just unbind the wan-attached nic from everything except the virtual networking to protect the host machine.

    • azcrumpty says:

      Thanks for the tips.

      We share the exact same history of rebooting, tweaking, and bugs. However, v24 preSP2 has been stable enough that I expect better performance with the final SP2 release.

  3. Pingback: Home Network With DMZ | My Mind In Bytes

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