Some time ago I had some problems with my Linksys router. It was WRT54GS v5. It was a great router back then, but when I connected to it using my new Windows 7 laptop via Wi-Fi, the network connection slowed to a bare minimum.
I have tried everything and changed all router settings but to no avail.
The real problem turned out to be a few tweaks in Windows 7 (long story), but I didn’t discover it until after I completely overhauled my Linksys router.
The «bricking» event happened after I contacted our writer team and one of the writers (who no longer writes for us) suggested that I flash the «crappy» Linksys firmware with the free Tomato firmware.
What he couldn’t tell me is obvious, assuming that I less router lover than me is that I have to check the compatibility of the router with Tomato firmware.
In short — by the end of the night I erased my router from all firmware and walled it up tightly. I couldn’t even ping it. In all the blogs and forums that I read, everything was like dead people.
Unlocking a bricked Linksys router
After putting the router in a box in the basement and buying a new, faster router, I forgot all about the old, «dead» Linksys router.
I recently wanted to build a subnet on my home LAN. I thought about the brick router and wondered if I could, years later, fix it. Worth a try, right?
After a bit of research, I found a lot of «reset» sequences that supposedly work with Linksys routers. Typically hold the reset button for 15-30 seconds (depending on who you’re talking to), turn your router off (while holding the reset button), then turn it back on and keep holding the reset button for 15-30 seconds. 30 seconds worked for me.
Although the power light was flashing continuously (a sign of a bricked router), and although I couldn’t access it at 192.168.1.1 with my browser, I was surprised to see that my computer «saw» the router when plugged into the network cable.
Even better, I could actually ping it.
It seemed so strange to me that I could ping the router but couldn’t get to the emergency recovery screen over the Internet that all the blogs and forums mentioned should appear after a reboot. I have clearly made a real number on this thing.
So I went looking for a way to flash my Linksys with firmware without having to use any web interface. Tomato firmware is out for my version of Linksys. However, I have discovered an amazing set of tools and instructions in DD-WRT. The first step is to go to this page and download the vxworks_prep_GS_v03.zip file. After unpacking the files, run the VxImgToolGUI.exe utility.
Make sure you select the correct WRT54G version you are trying to unlock. Enter the MAC address from the label under the router and then save the file as My54gsImage.bin in the folder where you extracted these files.