Shibby Tomato firmware on Asus RT-N66U router via OS X plus tcpdump

asus.routerI’ve been trying to get close to what I call “end to end open source” (you know, as opposed to encryption) which means that everything from my desktop OS to my router to my firewall should be running non-proprietary software. Though I’ll probably keep  OS X on my MacBook Air,  I already have the notes for another post on running Ubuntu on my 27″ iMac.

The first stop on my EtEOS quest was my router.  I’ve happily been running a Netgear AC1750 for some time. It runs the stock firmware. I did try the Asus RT-N66U a bit ago, but had WiFi connectivity problems that I couldn’t resolve.

A while ago I ran DD-WRT and was happy with it, so I went looking for what was the new open source hotness to run on your router. After some DuckDuckGoing, I found Tomato by Shibby. This looked great! Prior open source firmware for the Asus didn’t have full (or any?) support for the 5 GHz radio, but this guy looked to be the whole enchilada. A post over on Nelson’s Log gave me some tips about getting it to work. Take note of his warning that 5 GHz doesn’t work until a second reboot.

However, the install instructions required installing Asus Software on a Windows box. That’s silly. Chris Hardie had a post about how to do this with a Mac (or a Linux box). It worked great.

After getting the router flashed with Shibby and doing a second reboot to get 5 GHz working, I set about kicking the tires on my new rig. After enabling it, SSH didn’t seem to work, and that’s because you need to log in with user of “root” instead of “admin.” Thanks to a post on tomatousb.org forums for that tidbit. Now that I had shell on my router, which tires should i kick? How about tcpdump? I’ve always wanted to be able to see what the apps on my phone were up to. This isn’t easy unless you capture the packets on the phone, which requires root. The other way is to capture the packets on the last hop out of your network, aka your newly rooted, shibby shimmyin’ RT-N66U.

Though it’s a bit dated, Martin Denizet’s post was great for a getting a local binary of tcpdump on my router. It was a bit shady loading an arbitrary binary onto my router, I’ll admit. Then I did some light reading on how to capture full packets compliments of a post by Noah Davis. After running tcpdump targeting the IP of my phone, I scp-ed the resulting file to my desktop and opened it up in Wireshark. Awesome! There’s all my little apps phoning home (oh, pun not intended, really) and POSTing and GETing all in the clear for me to research.

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2 Comments


  1. I used to use Tomato exclusively, big fan…
    Unfortunately it seemed to stagnate for a few years (and my newer Netgear R6300 wasn’t supported well) so finally switched to dd-wrt. We’ll have to nerd out over some of the fun stuff we’ve done with our routers :).

    Glad to see someone else has discovered the awesome that is Tomato!

    Reply

    1. Yeah, check out Shibby! It’s mo bettah I think. Thanks for the comment!

      Reply

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