6 comments on “Leaving DD-WRT

  1. Your comments here are excellent. I am coming at this from the other direction… I am running ASUSWRT-merlin and was considering DD-WRT in order to gain some additional DNS features. But, after reading your remarks, I’ve decided to stay put. I have been running the merlin firmware for a couple of years now and am extremely happy with it. The local DNS server support is very good for most stuff, but lacks a few features of a “real” DNS server like round robin, aliasing, etc. and I was curious if I could get those from DD-WRT. As you point out… I don’t really need these things very often, and moving to a system that has so few/infrequent updates for my hardware (ASUS RT-N66R) is a real concern.

    The maintainer of the Merlin firmware has been very responsive to problems that have arisen in the past couple of years, providing updates very promptly in the wake of various vulnerabilities as they have been announced. My only concern has been that the package seems to be maintained by one guy out of the goodness of his heart. I fear that he may eventually lose interest or life may take him in another direction leaving the product with support that is not as excellent as it has been so far.

    For years, I ran a standalone Linux box hosting my DNS/DHCP, etc. but, recently, I’ve tried to reduce the number of systems I had to keep up all the time. By hosting this stuff on the router — along with the usual firewall, VPN, DLNA, etc. I’ve been able to collapse all of that onto the router that has to be up 24×7. Now, my workstation and PowerEdge server I use to host VMs for dev work can be brought online only when needed, or allowed to sleep/powersave. Less noise, less heat, etc. makes hosting my home lab a lot nicer.

    I was looking hard at the Synology stuff before getting my ASUS router… mostly because of the options to run plugins to provide DNS. I think that overall, having a local DNS server/domain is the hardest thing to implement in a home lab and is also one of the most useful additions. I have a registered DNS domain, hosted with DirectNIC, who provides a nice virtual DNS server option on which I can do pretty much anything I need. But, this doesn’t really address my internal network needs. So, maintaining a local DNS is required for a variety of things.

    The stock ASUS firmware is good, but Merlin’s enhancements have been nice to have. If I recall correctly, one of the main things that got me looking at it was the availability of an sshd. This provides a nice, lighter-weight alternative to VPN. I either ssh in to a Linux command line or “tunnel” an RDP connection back to my windows desktop, allowing me to connect remotely from virtually anywhere, while only exposing a single ssh port externally. VPN at times makes me nervous since it tends to put the entire remote system “on” my internal network. There are times when this isn’t possible (from work) or really desirable to me. Plus, I may not have an appropriate VPN client available or configured.

    So, if you’ve been considering the Merlin release, I’d encourage you to give it a try if it has things you want. So far, I’ve been impressed with the package and its maintainer.

    Good luck. Nice post, very helpful to me … you probably saved me a weekend setting this up, plus another weekend to tear it down and switch back, plus all the headaches in-between as I slowly came to the conclusion you did.

    Regards,

    Marty Wise
    Gloucester, Virginia, US

    • I’ve been running the merlin release since I replaced the my primary router. It is running very well. As you point out there are very few things missing vs. DD-WRT. Most notably is aliases. To be honest I don’t miss them. I am completely happy with the merlin solution.

      I do share your concern that a single person appears to be maintaining it. That said, support is better than DD-WRT. I’ve also been running the normal ASUSWRT on my access point (separate device), and should merlin disappear, I think I can get by with ASUSWRT. Thanks for your feedback!

  2. You can also support IPv6 using Tunnelbroker directly/easily on the router. Not critical in most cases, but provides a nice way to get some hands-on with IPv6 if your ISP doesn’t provide support yet.

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