About a year ago I discovered DD-WRT. I got excited when I started discovering the features it promised. I read a number of different forums about how much of an improvement it was over the “stock” firmware provided by Linksys. I was also sharing the internet connection between three people and was seeing the horrible performance. So I installed it.
After installing DD-WRT, I immediately saw a huge improvement. That slowly faded as the days passed. I started having to reboot the router after a few days of it being up. I spent countless hours scrolling through various wiki entries and forums to get the configuration perfect. I wasn’t alone in my issues with DD-WRT. I noticed that a large number of people were having issues similar to mine. Many people said how they have to reboot it after a few days. Other people were having issues with the QoS configuration. The biggest problem with DD-WRT was the lack of updates. The last stable released was in mid September 2006. I kept using it though because, regardless of its shortcomings, it was a much better solution than the stock firmware.
I happened to stumble upon Tomato while looking for release notes in for DD-WRT v24 RC3 (and for whatever reason, I had no luck finding them). As I watched my internet crawl as it tried to open the next site because uTorrent was busy downloading something (despite having set up QoS, and spending countless nights tweaking it), I realized after a year I couldn’t deal with this horrible connection anymore.
Tomato installed perfectly over DD-WRT. Be sure you check out the installation guide for some important information before installing it over DD-WRT, though for me it was simply uploading the firmware. After getting back online I noticed an instant improvement on the speed. I had no idea my connection was this fast. Of course, I hadn’t setup QoS nor was downloading anything.
To me, a UI is as important as the features the software provides. While I wouldn’t turn down an application that works well and has a horrible interface, the fact that the interface was simple and clean was a huge plus for Tomato. Along with the simple user interface, it is also driven by AJAX. Unlike DD-WRT, when you change a setting it will just restart that service instead of having to do a full router reboot. Very nice when you’re downloading a file and don’t want to stop it.
Another great feature are the built in graphs and various statistics. Not something that I will be checking daily, nor is this something that would be a deal breaker, but it is definitely a nice feature.
All that aside, the best part is that it actually works and continues to work months on end. For the first time the Comcast “Powerboost” actually worked for me. I always thought I just had a poor connection from the wall to my modem. The speed difference was amazing. I setup the QoS fairly quickly and tested it. I can browse the web while downloading something via uTorrent now without it crawling. The most impressive part is that it didn’t take me all that long to setup the configuration before I experienced the huge performance difference.
This of course is just a basic comparison between both products. In my opinion, if you have DD-WRT, get rid of it. After you install Tomato you won’t look back.