I picked up a couple of refurbished Linksys EA6200 routers this past weekend. For whatever reason, DD-WRT isn’t officially supported on them, though it does seem to be a popular DD-WRT router. A lot of people make the upgrade far more difficult than they need to. With some simple hacks, Linksys EA6200 DD-WRT installation is pretty straightforward.
I came up with an 18-step process that I simplified just as much as I could. Unlike some methods I’ve seen, I don’t have you editing any binary files or creating custom startup scripts.
- Disable your wireless on your computer
2. Plug a computer straight into the router via Ethernet
Don’t do the 30-30-30 reset that we used to do on our WRT54G routers. The EA6200 has an ARM chipset in it, not the old MIPS architecture that many 802.11g and 802.11n routers used. The 30-30-30 trick erases data that ARM-based routers need. So don’t do it.
3. Download a copy of the stock firmware: http://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=148429
Yes, you will be loading a second copy of the stock firmware onto the router before loading DD-WRT.
4. Download the Asus RT-AC56U firmware for DD-WRT:
Yes, this is the firmware for an Asus router, but it happens to be nearly identical to the Linksys EA6200. This build is a more than a year old too, but more recent builds run the CPU about 25 degrees hotter than this one so I’ll be sticking with this build for a while.
5. Visit http://192.168.1.1 from a web browser.
6. Log in (the default password is admin)
7. Click Connectivity
8. Uncheck Automatic firmware update. Click Apply.
9. Right below the Automatic firmware update option, click Choose File. Upload the firmware you downloaded in step 1. Click Start (the one next to Choose File, not the Windows Start button), then click Yes. If you don’t do this, the router will revert to the Linksys stock firmware on your next reboot and confusion will ensue. I know firsthand because I made that mistake myself.
Heed all of the warnings–don’t unplug the router, close the web browser, or anything else. Patience is your friend.
10. Click OK when prompted for a router reboot. (Sorry, I didn’t capture that image). Wait for the router to reboot.
11. Click OK when told the router upgrade completed successfully.
12. The router will boot back into the same screen it was. Now it’s finally time to load DD-WRT. Click Choose File again and this time, select the file asus_rt-ac56u-firmware.trx, then click Start, then click Yes and OK when asked, like you did in steps 9-11.
13. This time after you reboot you’ll get a spinning ring of death. Don’t panic.
14. Open a new browser tab and connect to http://192.168.1.1.
15. The router will prompt you to change your password. (Sorry, I missed that screen grab too.) After you change your password, the router logs you into a very full-featured DD-WRT. If you’ve been running on old pre-802.11ac routers, be prepared for a lot more things in there—everything that used to be an add-on option is there now. Newer routers have a lot more RAM and flash on board, and DD-WRT stretched its legs to take advantage of it.
16. Load the factory defaults (navigate to Administration, Factory Defaults, click Yes, then click Apply Settings). When the router comes back, reset the password again. Resetting at this point fixes a lot of odd behavior, like not being able to save the MAC address clone settings, or rebooting back into the emergency copy of the Linksys default firmware.
17. Once you’re booted back up and logged in, click on Wireless, and scroll down to wireless interface wl0. Set the channel width to 80 MHz, enable explicit beamforming and airtime fairness. This gives you the performance you paid for. Or most of it, at least.
I’ve heard reports that DD-WRT doesn’t always run as fast as stock firmware on AC-capable hardware. Since it enables capability that the stock firmware doesn’t have, I don’t care. I’ll sacrifice some performance to gain those features.
18. Finally, configure the router. If you want to secure it, I have some recommendations. Beyond that, you’ll need to look around in the user interface and find the other things you need. It can act as a print server if you want (a trick the built-in firmware wouldn’t do). Or you can connect a USB storage device to it and use it as a NAS and/or a DLNA server to stream media to other devices on your network.
Also, remember to re-enable wireless on your laptop.
One caveat: Pay close attention to NVRAM usage as you configure the router. Once you exceed 32KB of NVRAM usage, there’s a bug that can make it behave a little bit goofy on you. As long as you can avoid the NVRAM issue, this is a good DD-WRT device.
In the event that NVRAM usage gets out of hand, consider creating a startup script (under Administration, Commands) containing the script here. This script typically drops about 8K worth of unused variables. But only do this if you’re having problems–I’m currently investigating whether that script is causing me stability issues.
And that’s it. Enjoy your Linksys EA6200 DD-WRT installation. If you’re upgrading from a very old router, the EA6200 will probably give you a good performance boost because it has so much more memory and CPU power.