Looks like Buffalo is doing the right thing – shipping dd-wrt with its routers. While I have been a fairly loyal Buffalo customer and own several of their routers, honestly, I have been running all of them on dd-wrt. The only reason why I have been buying Buffalo is because they are the cheaper option to running dd-wrt than say, Linksys. So, by shipping dd-wrt on its routers, it will make life easier for me in the process.
DD-WRT is an Open Source project that provides firmware for running wireless routers. These firmware are based off a Linux kernel, which gives them a lot of power and functionality. For example, it can support VLANs, advanced firewall and routing capabilities and much more, on commodity hardware. Most of its features are available on premium commercial hardware.
I will not buy any router unless it supports dd-wrt. In Malaysia, this essentially limits my choices to Linksys and Buffalo. Buffalo wins on price because the features will be the same as long as they both run the same firmware. But why this obsession with running Linux dd-wrt on routers? It is all a question of control. I like having control over my hardware – including my routers.
For example, I configured my router to dynamically route all web traffic from my network via a transparent proxy server. This benefits all the machines running in my home network as I would not need to configure each machine individually. Everything is automagically cached in my proxy server. So, when I watch a YouTube clip, I can keep watching it again and again without having to reload it from the Internet. I also like the built-in PPPoE and dynamic DNS clients. I use it to maintain the connection to this very blog. Without it, you would not be able to find my blog at all.
If I did not have dd-wrt running on my router, trying to get these feature would be a chore, if it was at all possible.
The question then is why did Buffalo not do it from the start. I think that they have finally realised the advantages of using dd-wrt instead of building and maintaining their own firmware. You need a lot of resources to do that. It would be far easier for them to just customise a dd-wrt firmware with their logos and stuff while leaving all the hard work to the people who are actually passionate enough to work on it. In addition, they may want to consider hiring some permanent staff to contribute to the dd-wrt stack.
All in all, open source actually works better as long as people can change their mind-set on keeping everything to themselves.