Wireless Configuration

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This article describes reconfiguring the wireless access point portion of a home network in order to provide a more reliable internet connection.


My employer provides home internet and telephony. The choice of provider is predetermined and there is no option for selecting alternate hardware.

Connectivity is fine when using a wired connection. However, the wireless connection is quite unstable. The wireless network often experiences problems with temporary and permanent disconnections. I am often greeted with "Dad, the internet is down again!" when coming home from work.

At the place we used to live, the internet was "part of the apartment" and each owner bought their own hardware to make a connection. Back then I bought a small wireless router and installed Tomato firmware. Tomato was chosen because I needed QOS to protect internet voice calls against streaming video bandwith usage. Tomato was so trouble free that I did not think about it until the current wireless problems.

Below I describe how I replace the wireless section of my "all in one" box with a Tomato powered access point.

To ease description, I refer to the new access point where we install Tomato firmware as "Tomato hardware", and the all-in-one service provider box which connects to the internet and provides wireless and wired connectivity as "original hardware".

Tomato Configuration

First we need an access point separate from the service provider's original harware. Install Tomato on this device.

Google tomato firmware to get information on device compatibility and firmware installation.

I use the following configuration to set up my access point:

Tomato Firmware Configuration

Note the following settings:

The "Router IP Address" is dependent on the configuration of the original hardware. The configuration of the service provider's original hardware is described below.

Original Hardware Configuration

The original hardware is usually configured by a web interface at a specific internal IP address. In my network this address is See the documentation which came with your device for details.

Navigate to the configuration section for LAN DHCP setup.

DHCP setup with Google DNS

It is important to ensure that the static IP address given to the Tomato hardware will not also be allocated to another device in the internal network. In the picture above, the "IP Pool starting Address" is, so our static access point address at (see previous section) is safe enough.

After the above configurations, the Tomato hardware can be connected to the original hardware via a network cable. Wireless connections to the Tomato hardware will use the internet connection provided by the original hardware. Disabling the wireless access point in the original hardware is left as an excercise to the reader. (hint: look on the original hardware's wireless LAN configuration page)

DNS Server Configuration

A DNS server translates a named address into an IP address. For example, a DNS lookup can be used to map "google.com" to "".

Custom DNS servers can be specified in the "DNS Server" section of the original hardware. The default value is the addresses of the service provider's DNS servers. In the picture in the previous section, two custom DNS servers are specified: and These are public DNS servers made available by Google.

There are two reasons one might want to specify custom DNS servers:

An example of DNS server implemented censorship in Denmark can be seen in the browser window below:

internet censorship

The actual site name has been altered to protect the guilty. Switching to Google's DNS servers avoids this censorship.


After surfing for a while and enjoying the rock solid wireless connection, I noticed that some settings in the original hardware had reset themselves to service provider defaults. Notice the "DNS Server" settings in the picture below have reset themselves to service provider values!

DHCP setup with service provider DNS

I am able to reproduce this behavior, and it is quite mysterious. There are no other settings in the original hardware which would indicate an automatic reset to factory defaults of individual configuration entries. Unlike Tomato, the original hardware uses closed source software, so it is quite difficult to dig in to see what is going on. I stop short of claiming some sort of dark conspiracy, and use net-fu skills to work around this "feature".

At home I run Ubuntu. The screenshot below is from the connection settings dialog for the wireless network I connect to.

DNS Client Settings

There are two configuration changes:

The only drawback with this workaround is that it must be done on each machine connecting to the wireless network.


Hurray! Now our wireless internet connection is solid as a rock. No unhappy family members and no more trips to the basement to reset the internet hardware.

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©2011 Bill Ola Rasmussen