Review: DD-WRT Vs Tomato

Posted by – December 5, 2008

Linksys WRT54GL: New Heart of My Network

Linksys WRT54GL: The new heart of my network.

Since I bought my new Linksys WRT-54GL router (one of the three new goodies I picked up, reviews and news coming soon) I’ve been using DD-WRT. Originally I was a bit worried about mucking around in the firmware, since the router was working quite well. That was until I tried to grab some stuff off bittorrent, and noticed the speed was incredibly slow, which turns out to be a linksys firmware bug they never fixed. Instant courage.

I was quite overwhelmed with all the cool new features of my router, and was even thinking about setting up an free (possibly ad-sponsored) wifi hotspot. However I was still disappointed in the performance of the router, and DD-WRT seemed large and bulky.  However I had it working to the point where I rarely had an issue, and was pretty happy with DD-WRT unless I thought about it too much.

A few weeks ago though, I’ve found Tomato.  It was in some unrelated Reddit discussion about bittorrent destroying the Internet because they’re using UDP instead of TCP now, you know, garbage.  Upon reading up on Tomato firmware though it seemed to be much more sleek and performance orientated than it’s DD-WRT cousin.  It contained all the basic features you’d need to run a nice personal network or even a small business network (depending on your needs) and not really any useless filler.  This was precisely what I wanted, I’ve always been a performance over features sort of guy anyway.  So I downloaded the firmware AFTER reading the manual and FAQ which is a good idea if you’re upgrading from DD-WRT, it’ll save you a headache when you attempt to login for the first time.

Tomato's basic network settings.

Tomato's Basic Network Settings

Tomato's Bandwidth Monitor (Realtime view)

Tomato's Bandwidth Monitor (Realtime)

As you can see, bittorrent is working.

As you can see, bittorrent is working.

So after installing the Tomato firmware (which was extremely painless, just a straight firmware upgrade through the web GUI) and a reset to default settings then  I was up and running.  I was giddy at this point, scrambling through all the pages admiring the awesomeness of the power I had (I’m sure any geek who gets a new gadget knows what I mean; never lingering on any one feature till you’ve seen them all).  After I calmed down a little I started configuring options, including Quality of Service (Qos), Port Forwarding, DNS addresses and Access Restrictions (to block sites I waste time on when I should be working) etc.  Then I was done.

I’ve now been running Tomato firmware for a few weeks, I have yet to have any issue.  I’ve setup a samba share for it to save it’s bandwidth logs, because I love graphs and it has a built in Common Internet File System Client (CIFS) built-in making it easy.  I’m in love with this firmware, and anybody using anything else really has to give it at least a shot, and if you like it donate to them.

Download Tomato Firmware.

More screenshots:

Tomato's Wireless Survey Tool.

Tomato's Wireless Survey Tool.

Tomato's Qos Graphs. Mmmm...

Tomato's Qos Graphs. Mmmm...

Tomato's QoS Classification Settings

Tomato's QoS Classification Settings.

2 Comments on Review: DD-WRT Vs Tomato

  1. newbieworks says:

    Our Netgear WRT614 died so we got a new WRT54GL. For about 2 weeks I had the stock firmware, but could no longer stand leaving it on there when I heard about all the great features of Tomato. I would have done it right away, but really didn’t want to brick the router. Finally flashed it today, which was surprisingly easy and everything works great. Uploads/bittorrent doesn’t make the internet unusable like it used to with the netgear and linksys (with default firmware). Tomato is a really neat upgrade for any router that supports Linux/firmware.

  2. Inferno says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s an amazing piece of software/firmware. Thanks for the comment.

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