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Goodbye WRT1900ac - comments below

Discussion in 'General Wireless Discussion' started by sfx2000, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I bid farewell to the WRT1900ac series (including ACS and the WRT1200ac) - I'm probably not a typical user, but at the same time, somewhat of a believer in the strong points of this device.

    Many times, I've jumped in to the forums to help out where I can, but lack of updates, and the on-going confusion about what is shipping (is it really a V1/V2/ACS, who knows???) - it gets to a point where even experienced users cannot provide credible answers to questions, and Linksys doesn't provide any clarity..

    The lack of updates, if not to improve performance and configurability - much less security fixes, tossing the lot over to OpenWRT (whose contributions/efforts are appreciated)... even within the Linksys factory firmware, seems like comments/feedback/bug reports - fall upon deaf ears...

    First, just want to say that the hardware is impressive as a router, and perhaps as a Wireless AP.

    The WRT's CPU/Switch complex - it is best of class in the AC1900 and above, Broadcom and QC-Atheros can't really touch this device in many ways, mainly because the WRT is a NAS class chipset with a couple of WiFi radios attached..

    WiFi, properly set up, it's a very strong performer, WiFi B/G/N for 2.4GHz with outstanding range, and the 5GHz performance, due to the 4-Radio config is very stout...

    SMB/CIFS file sharing, it's best of class, outperforming, in spite of the Linksys software, many ARM based NAS boxes...

    That being said... The weak side of the WRT is the Linksys SmartWifi software stack...

    And this is why I'm walking away from the WRT1900ac - most of these comments at one point or another, have been raised in the forums, both here on SNB and others, including Linksys factory forums.

    [Most of the nits/quirks - I can fix, or others can, except that Linksys won't ship a GPL pull that is buildable, unlike what other vendors have done for a high-end Router/AP]

    Wifi Comments:

    2.4GHz is very liberal with standards intents for 2.4

    - [quirk] TurboQAM is VHT20/40, and in a way that causes issues with many legacy clients - the beacon frames blow up legacy clients, and AC aware chipsets sometimes go into a dark place (trying to do VHT when they know they can't)
    - Work-around here is to put the device into B/G/N mode
    - Alt Approach would be similar to Broadcom, with Vendor Specific Attributes

    5GHz - minor nit, auto always puts the 802.11n secondary -1 from the Primary, so... for legacy clients in a A/N/AC environment, the A/N clients pop up in the middle of the AC bandwidth
    - [quirk] 5GHz side should be auto, let the 20MHz OBSS scan see where the other primary N/AC AP's are, and adjust accordingly

    General Wifi:
    - TxBF for VHT and HT is enabled, should have an option to enable/disable as per local needs
    - DTIM is fixed to 1 for both bands - improves responsiveness perhaps, but serious sucks battery power for tablets/handhelds/phones - DTIM == 3 is generally good guidance

    Guest WiFi - not sure if this should be in WiFi comments, or in Router comments, but I'm putting it here

    - [quirk] At a chipset level, Guest SSID is enabled for both bands, even if Guest Network is disabled - not efficient, and a potential security risk
    - [Security Nit] Guest Network - when enabled, it's Open, no options for WEP/WPA/WPA2 - AP is not isolated in my testing
    - [Security Nit ]Guest comment 2 - all traffic across the Guest network is open for monitoring

    Adcanced Wireless in the 2.xx branch, and perhaps in others is "read-only" so one can see params, but cannot change

    Routing:

    DDNS - DynDNS is broken, never could make this work, understanding here is that this is an API change on Dyn's side

    IPv6 - well done, except that one cannot choose IPv6 DNS - accepts whatever is offered by the WAN side, which impacts many

    Multicast: Don't get me started here, this is a bag of hurt all around, and more important these days, and the Linksys firmware is very confused
    - IGMP - it wants to be both Proxy and Snoop, and no methods to adjust
    - IGMP - weak or bugged IGMP group management, clients/groups that do IGMPv2/v3 seem to get lost, creates much chatter here, and lost opportunities for network conservation of bandwidth
    - mDNS/Avahi/Bonjour - default behavior is to filter this, and WebGUI is confusing - to allow one must positively enable "Filter Multicast"
    - In general - if using IPTV from a carrier, or using Multicast from internal sources, it's basically broken
    - Most folks will see that AirPlay/AirPrint on Mac/IOS as inconsistent or not working

    Media Priority/Traffic Shaping:
    - Limited to 3 clients, wireless or not as high priority
    - Many apps supported, but list is not updated - protocols/ports
    - Poor sense of upstream bandwidth, manual generally works, but auto can result in much reduced client performance
    - [quirk] Odd behavior - Media Prioritization limits LAN-LAN performance, not just WAN-LAN

    USB/eSATA Disk Shares:
    - [Security Nit] - FTP, if enabled, is public and overrides the FW/Port Forwarding - potential security issue here as it's FTP, and not SFTP, and there's no option
    - Twonky Media Server - it's up and down, and inconsistent with both iTunes and DLNA
    - DLNA is generally broken - and there's some Twonky config items that could be exposed for DNLA purposes

    General:

    - [Security Nit] - many apps/deamons - they're old, and have not be updated - some of this is Marvell, but most, if not all, are general Linksys trunk stuff, someone needs to review and update/integrate as needed
    - OpenVPN - something good to say - easy to set up for remote clients
    - [Security Nit] - OpenVPN is a fixed certificate with no visible means to replace/revoke for OpenVPN
    - OpenVPN is limited use - dial-in only, no Bridge/Client capability
    - Network Map - just dump this, it's often wrong and a real memory pig, and it leaks like a sieve memory wise, compromising overall stability
    - SpeedTest.Net - make this go away, no reason to have a flash object here, and it's wrong, and doesn't work across platforms - it's a festering boil that should go away
     
    sm00thpapa, LoneWolf, reddice and 4 others like this.
  2. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Additional SMB comment - no way to define a workgroup, so SAMBA broadcasts WORKGROUP even though in a small network might have something different - which is more than a minor annoyance here when cross platform... and no way to clear the NetBIOS caching, which is even more of an annoyance - one can clear clients (nbtstat -R, but then the samba server in the WRT/LinksysSmartWifi repopulates this, gah...)
     
  3. hggomes

    hggomes Very Senior Member

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    FTPS you mean.
     
  4. hggomes

    hggomes Very Senior Member

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    Which router original FW has SFTP protocol available? No FTPS also?
     
  5. JohnnySL

    JohnnySL Occasional Visitor

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    I own the V2, and after some initial hickups it is now running OpenWRT DD-trunk with the .17 driver very well, and very stable.

    My experience is that vendor based firmware is never maintained well, nor long. Open source firmware like ddwrt or openwrt is therefore the best alternative to give a router a long and safe life.

    So give Openwrt a try, i'd say.
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Wish all "rants" were as detailed and fact-based as yours.

    I forwarded to my Linksys contact. I'll update the thread if there is a reply.
     
    LoneWolf and Nullity like this.
  7. FattysGoneWild

    FattysGoneWild Regular Contributor

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    Is that person the same contact running customer service, PR and writing firmware? I could not resist! I would not expect a answer even with that contact. They have made a complete joke of themselves at the cost of us consumers. To let bugs go for well over 6+ months is disgusting for a so called "flagship" product. Critical bugs at that and security needing to be updated. Speaking of security. How can Belkin/Linksys not be sued by now for leaving "Guest" completely wide open to the net when in use? No wpa2 support at all or any thing.
     
  8. TheManFromUncle

    TheManFromUncle Regular Contributor

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    sfx2000, I personally don't think this product line is dead. If Linksys discontinues their firmwares for it... there is always DD-WRT. They have done some amazing things with it you know.
     
  9. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I can't resolve the Linksys issue, but I pulled the link due to PII concerns...

    @hamish05064 - if you're from Linksys, contact thiggins, and he can provide a PM address that you can contact me directly...

    FWIW - it looks like the device gets into a race condition with the following;

    upstream - ipv6/ipv4 is natted, and upstream provides DHCP/DHCPv6 info for the local L

    config - device is configured to allow either for static or DHCP for IPv4, IPv6 config is "disabled" on the WAN interface of the WRT...

    "disabling" IPv6 on the WAN, doesn't disable IPv6 support on the WRT, it goes into Link Local, and this is what triggers the bug - and it creates an ICMPv6 storm that pretty much limits the device - even going to myrouter.local - might be able to get to the main screen, but going to any options will fail - power cycling the device does not correct the issue...

    Removing the WAN connection, or dropping IPv6 upstream does allow a person to get into the device to fix things.

    Pretty serious bug...
     
  10. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    And 2118 errors are inexcusable...

    http://www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=140189

    "The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers can automatically detect whether you have an active Internet connection or if you have issues with connectivity. Accessing theLinksys Smart Wi-Fisite when you do not have an active Internet connection may display error prompts and messages on your browser. Also, even when you’re online, you may also encounter login issues"

    (in plain speak - "this means we know our software is broken from time to time... enough so that we provide an FAQ, so even when you are troubleshooting, it most likely will end up in tattered rainbows and unicorn tears, so just unplug it, count 10-mississippi, and pray that it comes back up...")

    B*lls*it - it's on my LAN, and it should work..

    period...

    (and no response from Linksys on any of the comments - this is more than just WRT1900ac - most of the bugs I've mentioned are in the LinksysSmartWifi software stack)
     
  11. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    @thiggins - I did score on Craigslist for 20 bucks, a set of steak knives, better known as the WRT004ANT set - and I agree with your findings there...

    Anyways - seems like before - reaching out to Linksys private or public - they just don't care about this device - which is sad, as the hardware is very good...
     
  12. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    What's really sad is that this product line could have been so much more for the crowd here...

    They had a very good HW platform in the WRT1900ac family - and putting this with a managed switch (which they pulled back from) and a eSATA/USB3 RAID/NAS storage bay...

    Oh well... I think Belkin pulled back, as this project was during the cutover from Cisco - could have been pretty cool...

    41LtTk89AXL.jpg
     
    TheManFromUncle likes this.
  13. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    I have the feeling that the WRT1900AC turned to be a failure and didn't meet their marketing expectations. It took months to finally deliver on its promise of being fully open-source friendly, by which time the damage was already done to its reputation. And seeing the number of refurbished units sold by places like NCIX (and they started selling those refurbs only a few months after the product launch) make me wonder how high the return rate was on these routers.
     
    reddice likes this.
  14. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    This product line, my best guess, based on SW commits in the GPL pull for WRT1900acV1... they ran across the Belkin purchase during development, so it got crossed up in different product line managers/roadmaps...

    It does beg the question as to why Belkin even released the switch (other than the tooling was already complete), along with the WRT1200ac and the ACS variant - I get why V2 shipped (cost reduction)...

    I'm fairly certain that they had much more planned - and Belkin probably said no - hence the grafting on of the software stack as it stands right now..
     
  15. pete y testing

    pete y testing Very Senior Member

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    here in oz when belkin took over linksys they moved the linksys team over as well and they where quite active for about 6 months , then all of a sudden the whole linksys team was moved on / sacked and i assume the belkin team then took over

    i was part of the local beta testing here in oz and apart from the failure to get the open source thing going at the time the 1900ac wasnt bad and i still have it running on a network doing its job quite well
     
  16. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I was an early reviewer on the Mamba (V1) - and it's very well built - software stack at the time had issues, and they were being addressed, and then things kind of stopped.. which would explain some of the team members leaving (or getting sacked, hopefully not), but also explain why the disk unit never shipped...

    Basically, Belkin, it appears, did not want to get into that Market segment... or perhaps again, the primary sponsor of the product decided to move on - so Belkin did have a problem on their hands...

    They did complete the HW cost reduction on Cobra (v2), enough savings there to bump the DRAM up, and did Caiman (WRT1200), which many questioned the "why" a AC1200 class device at that price point, and then ACS (Shelby). Funny thing is that somewhere in V2 land, Cobra's and Shelby's were mixed, and the only difference is the calibration tables (and the firmware revision).

    Anyways - while the Marvell FOSS driver still has some issues, the OpenWRT (and DDWRT) teams have done some great work, and with their builds, its a darn good router...

    At the moment - the product is in use inside my network - not at the edge, but splitting out third party (Satellite TV for their DS across the house, and a couple of media boxes that I don't quite trust, so sub-netting them out is a plus - I know I could do this with a Layer3 managed switch as well, but then I'd still need an AP for the media boxes anyway).

    I just worry about their other models that run the same SW stack - e.g. the EA8500 and so forth, as most of the gripes I have are with their software - folks should not have to seek out third parties to fix pretty basic bugs/broken functionality...
     
    TheManFromUncle likes this.
  17. pete y testing

    pete y testing Very Senior Member

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    totally agree , the aim of producing anything that is aimed at just the 3rd party world without giving it a good base stock firmware is just lazy and arrogant on the part of the manufacture as it just passes the buck and responsibility off to someone else

    speaking of belkin they make some strange decisions , i was testing a few of their early wireless AC routers at the same time and they sent me a 1750ac router with usb 3 on it and it was the best thing i had seen at the time it even outperformed the linksys both in wifi and usb , and strange enough they never actually produced the model as a going concern and i have never seen a variations of it ether , so i have this rocking one of a kind 1750ac belkin router , i do suspect its power transmission levels are a tad overdriven and is prob why it never came out in the form i have

    its an early version of the F9K1113 but with 1300M and usb 3

    so it will go in my collection of the weird and unusual
     
  18. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    One of these? In the US, they were sold as AC1200 devices...

    http://www.belkin.com/us/p/P-F9K1113/

    372-1.jpg.png

    That's the same form-factor as my DirecTV Wireless Video Bridge - single band, 5GHz, Quantenna based..

    Add 2 coax connectors on the back for MOCA...

    Unknown.jpeg

    Weird..

    DHCP request is CiscoXXYYY, but the OUI is Wistron...

    If one knows the classic Linksys UI secret links, one can spelunk around inside the device - just don't make changes ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  19. pete y testing

    pete y testing Very Senior Member

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    yup very similar just with different specs , i also have the 1200ac version
     
  20. RogerSC

    RogerSC Part of the Furniture

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    Sad to say, I agree...I'm very happy that I didn't pay for this router. It still isn't "openWRT ready" after 2 years, largely due to the fact that Marvell has not seen fit (or been appropriately motivated by Linksys/Belkin) to fix the problems with their open source wireless driver. I do remember that some marketing guy from Linksys came out on the Linksys community forum saying how WRT1900AC firmware releases would be more frequent and that they would be adding features over time. Well now, that turned out to be another marketing falsehood, on both parts. There was one update about 5 or 6 months after that (pretty frequent *smile*), and that was it. Nothing since then.

    So I guess that the WRT1900AC is now as good as Linksys/Belkin/Marvell can make it. And neither OpenWRT or DD-WRT can make up for the bugs that Marvell has left in the wireless driver they gave out to third party firmware providers. Like I said, I'm happy I didn't pay for it.