Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hack ASUS RT-N16 to enable NAS, media server, offline BT/emule, etc.

ASUS RT-N16 is the most affordable and versatile wireless router out there. I was previously looking for a NAS solution and then found that this router has 2 USB ports that could turn a printer into network printer and an external USB hard drive into a network storage.

The default firmware works ok so far. What I did is first configure it and then upgrade to the latest firmware version from ASUS website. UPnP and Samba file sharing worked fine out of box.

But after doing some online search, to really unleash the real power of this router, we need to install third-party firmware such as Tomato (it actually needs Tomato variants that support USB such as Tomato USB) and DD-WRT.

There are also several Tomato variants from Taiwan and mainland China: Tomato DualWAN, Tomato Pandora (supported routers) that supports web-based tools such as Chinese Web interface, BT, file system access, etc. I also found a Taiwan forum that discusses these variants, quite cool actually.

Searching on Tomato USB site gives several tutorials, but this one recommended by a colleague seems to be most straightforward and I am going to try it out now ;-)


The whole processing following the above tutorial went like a breeze. The only thing (not really an issue) that I encountered is that the restoration tool got stuck at 33% for quite a while and then gave a scary error message. But then I tested and the router is actually already running Tomato. So, simply ignore that error!

Note that you need to enable the USB option to get your external USB hard disk working. Here is an article that walks you through setting up a poor man's NAS with more detailed settings and controls. He also did some benchmark on a USB flash drive and found out that the flash drive has a better performance attached to the router than attached to the windows computer, unbelievable...

So, the next step will be to install Optware and get a lot of interesting toys (amule, transmission, unix tools, web servers, vpn, asterisk voip pbx, etc.) on it! Also heard there is another better UPnP solution that does transcoding for iOS devices (iPhone/iPad has many UPnP apps such as PlugPlayer, Apple TV supports XBMC), haha...