Friday, May 11, 2012

DD-WRT for fun

Recently I set up a wifi hotspot for a local coffee shop using my old router and the open source dd-wrt software. While setting it up I made many notes, not only because I need notes, but in an effort to help the owner make changes and troubleshoot future problems. It was my intention to post my notes on the dd-wrt wiki (should be easy since I use a wiki to keep notes), but to my dismay there doesn't seem to be any way to create a user account. I am also confronted with the possibility I simply can't figure it out. This is a common phenomenon I experience. On the one hand, I have my own wiki setup on a virtual machine for notes and such, yet I can't figure out how to log into someone else's. I have a similar problem with Facebook.

Personal problems aside, I feel I should share these notes somewhere (←PDF of notes). Setting up a free public wifi hotspot turned out to not be a strait forward as I thought. Here are some lessons learned.

  • Depending on hardware DD-WRT allows for multiple virtual wireless networks. This was utilized to create an unsecured hotspot, and a secure private wireless.
  • iptables is flipping awesome (the DD_WRT uses this as it's firewall). It's worth figuring out.
  • There are a lot of ways to make a public hotspot, I chose nocatsplash mostly because it was already installed. It turned out to be able to do what we wanted; take the used to a "splash" screen to let them know they are using this network, and when they agree to use that network it takes them to the coffee shop's events page.
Over all this turned out to be a fun project I was glad worked out well for the folks that use it. I also got to learn a few new things about networking and Linux. I recommend it for people who like to piddle with such things.

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