Jan 202016
 

Last night I made some changes to the build process of the generated images for the WD N600 and N750 routers.

Starting from r48362, the following changes are active:

  1. The designated_driver_luci repository is enabled by default. This allows people to install luci by doing: opkg update && opkg install luci
  2. Added an entry to /etc/opkg/distfeeds.conf that will point to that revisions base packages
  3. Enabled building all KMODs for the openwrt kernel as packages. Combined with the above change, this allows auto-dependency resolution to work correctly.

As always, bug reports and comments are welcome.

Sep 252014
 

Recently, I purchased a new Dell Inspiron 15 (3537) – however one of the worst things about this laptop was the fact it only had a 2.4GHz wireless card. While my first change to this system was to replace the 750Gb hard drive with a 256Gb SSD – to get a massive performance boost, the slow wireless was a killer. To make matters worse, the wireless card was also tied into the bluetooth adapter.

After a bit of hunting around, I found that the Intel AC-7260 was a PCIe Half Mini Card with bluetooth onboard. This would make it a drop in replacement for the card that Dell shipped with the laptop. It would also allow me to connect at the full 300Mbit speeds of my WD MyNet N750.

I ordered the card and it arrived quickly, but I soon started to find issues with this card. The main one being that randomly fails to work properly when the laptop resumes from sleep.

When I did some searching about this problem, I was very surprised to find that this and many other problems seem to plague this range of card from Intel. There are threads on whirlpool, and multiple threads on the Intel Communities support site.

This seems to be either a hardware problem that Intel refuse to admit (as they’d have to replace all these cards with OEMs), or a driver problem – either way, it seems to have been ongoing for over a year.

I specifically bought an Intel wifi card thinking that a big name like Intel would make a decent wireless card – but it seems that I was mistaken 🙁

Feb 212014
 

I finally got around to ordering a new laptop via the Acer Factory Outlet. In a nutshell, they refurbish systems and sell them on. I settled on an Acer Aspire V5-573G. The specs were quite good:

  1. CPU: 4th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 4200U 1.6GHz (Turbo boost upto 2.6GHz)
  2. RAM: 4GB DDR3-SDRAM 1066MHz (1 slot free)
  3. HDD: 500GB Hard Drive 5400RPM
  4. Screen: 15.6″ HD 1366×768 LED LCD Screen
  5. GPU: NVIDIA Geforce GT 720M 2048 MB Dedicated Graphics
  6. 802.11a/g/n, bluetooth etc etc

It came in at $599AUD including shipping. My old Asus EeePC 1005P netbook was getting rather slow (some web sites would tax the CPU to death – even on scrolling) – so I decided to take the plunge.

I was very surprised when the laptop arrived in under 12 hours from placing the order. This was a very good sign – however more surprises were in store – it didn’t work.

Being the techhead that I am, I played around – using the keyboard shortcuts to attempt to turn the screen on or try the external HDMI port. Everything resulted in the same – power light coming on, no BIOS beep, no display, no signs of life. Tried the hard reset button, nothing. Damn.

I then gave the Acer Support Line a call. Firstly getting told I’d have to ship it back to them for assessment and repair. I wasn’t too happy at this option – after all, it was dead out of the box. One would assume that even though it is a refurbished laptop that item #1 in the Q/A check list is “Does the machine power up”. After voicing my opinion that a DOA should be replaced by a working laptop on arrival, not sent for repair the moment it arrived I was transferred to “The DOA team”.

What these guys actually do, I’m not sure. So far, I’ve been given a case number and told “Someone will contact you in 24 to 48 hours”. When I chased this up at about the 44 hour mark, I was again told “someone will contact you in 24 to 48 hours, so it may be Monday”. So now I’m at a point wondering if their standard reply for everything is “24 to 48 hours”.

While on this same phone call however, I was told that my only options may be to have the unit repaired, that they may not have this model in stock anymore, have it replaced with a model of the same value, or a refund. While this sounds good in theory, they don’t have anything near the model that I bought. The closest is ~$100 more with no dedicated graphics onboard. As such, this is starting to sound like a classic bait’n’switch tactic by Acer.

This leads me to wonder – has anyone dealt with Acer before for problems like this? Did you get a refurbished laptop that worked? Did you get one that was DOA? I’ll update this post as things progress, but for now, I’m not a happy camper!

Update 25/02: I got a call from the ‘Account Manager’ today. Apparently now I have to talk to the web store people to get a refund. Someone from there should contact me in (you guessed it) 24-48 hours. I can see the path this is going down – so today I also started the process for a chargeback on my credit card. Lets see who issues a refund first 😉

Update 27/02: Still chasing this up today. Today I got transferred to someone in accounts. After going through the case history, I was told someone would get back to me in (you guessed it) 24-48 hours. At least this time I have a direct contact number to talk to the same person tomorrow. Progress? Time will tell….

Update 05/03: Today I got sent a connote via email after following this matter up with the Australian contact centre. Attached it to the box today and its ready for pickup tomorrow. Hopefully, this should be the end of this saga!

Update: 10/03: Well, I think I spoke too soon. The dead laptop still hasn’t been picked up. Today is a public holiday though – so at best case, I can expect a pickup tomorrow. I really wouldn’t think it would be so hard to do basic logistics.

Update: 23/03: This issue still isn’t resolved. A whole month and nothing to show for it. The pickups haven’t happened, the refund hasn’t been processed – and I still am none the wiser as to when this will be resolved.

Update: 04/04: Still ongoing. I have been told I should receive a refund by today – but (surprise, surprise) nothing as yet…

Update: 12/04: A couple of days ago I figured I’d had enough. I had given Acer enough rope – and they hung themselves. I contacted the new Managing Director for Australia Pacific – Darren Simmons. I got a reply within an hour asking various people to chase this up. Yesterday, I still hadn’t heard anything so I asked Darren if there was any update. The reply was encouraging – the refund had been processed! Today, I look at my credit card statement – and behold! A refund!

Thankfully, after nearly two whole months of frustration, I can bring this saga to an end.

Sep 262013
 

After starting the wiki page on the WD N600 about 3 months ago, and posting about it in the OpenWRT forums, I’m proud to announce that OpenWRT is now supported on the WD N600.

I installed the luci web interface, configured it up and installed some basic tools, and the following is still available:

Filesystem                Size      Used Available Use% Mounted on
rootfs                   12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /
/dev/root                 1.8M      1.8M         0 100% /rom
tmpfs                    61.7M    880.0K     60.9M   1% /tmp
/dev/mtdblock7           12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /overlay
overlayfs:/overlay       12.5M      1.2M     11.3M   9% /
tmpfs                   512.0K         0    512.0K   0% /dev

Its quite a capable CPU:
# cat /proc/cpuinfo
system type : Atheros AR9344 rev 2
machine : WD My Net N600
processor : 0
cpu model : MIPS 74Kc V4.12
BogoMIPS : 278.93
wait instruction : yes
microsecond timers : yes
tlb_entries : 32
extra interrupt vector : yes
hardware watchpoint : yes, count: 4, address/irw mask: [0x0000, 0x0ff8, 0x0ff8, 0x0ff8]
isa : mips1 mips2 mips32r1 mips32r2
ASEs implemented : mips16 dsp dsp2
shadow register sets : 1
kscratch registers : 0
core : 0
VCED exceptions : not available
VCEI exceptions : not available

# dmesg | grep MHz
[ 0.000000] Clocks: CPU:560.000MHz, DDR:480.000MHz, AHB:240.000MHz, Ref:40.000MHz

See the wiki page for installation instructions!

EDIT: It seems there are some issues with previous builds that can cause wifi to drop out after periods of time. I’ve built r38259 of OpenWRT Barrier Breaker (trunk) that in theory is patched to stop this from happening. Testing is still ongoing and feedback is appreciated…

Download it here:
openwrt-ar71xx-generic-mynet-n600-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin – Updated to r38362 on 11/Oct/2013