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Thread: Please read this post before buying wl-500g deluxe (Updated: May 18)

  1. #1
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    Please read this post before buying wl-500g deluxe (Updated: May 18)

    So, just to let everyone know of problems with wl-500g deluxe boxes, which are now shipped. This affects all boxes which use bootloader/hw versions 1.1/1.33.

    You could execute this code to get versions:
    Code:
    nvram get hardware_version
    For me it returns: WL500gx-01-01-01-33

    Before buying this unit please consider the following:
    1) Although this unit physically has 32MB of memory, 16MB only is enabled in bootloader (this is easy to change, so it's not a big deal).
    2) This unit uses single ethernet switch for both WAN and LAN ports, which is integrated to the CPU. The huge problem is that as of bootloader version 1.33 this switch remains in the unconfigured state until firmware is loaded (this tooks some time) and during this phase this box acts as dumb switch. This means, that WAN and LAN networks are NOT separated. This could lead to several problems:
    a) if you use DHCP for both WAN connection and LAN and configured wl500g deluxe with cloned MAC address, your internal PC with that address could grab incorrect (external) IP address and other settings from the EXTERNAL DHCP server, causing lost of connectivity then wl500g deluxe finally boots;
    b) if you've complicated WAN network, which has DHCP servers which dynamically assigns IP addresses (regardless of MAC settings), your internal PCs could grab incorrect settings from EXTERNAL DHCP server, DHCP server causing lost of connectivity then wl500g deluxe finally boots.
    c) in the recovery mode all 5 ports are also connected, this could cause various problems, including attempts to flash your unit with arbitrary firmware from the WAN side.
    d) this is very insecure and could lead to other problems as well.

    So, finally: I do not recommend buying this unit until ASUS fixes these issues. If you happen to have this unit, then decide yourself what to do.

    It looks like that hopefully these issues could be fixed by changing bootloader code, but this should be done by ASUS, as debugging bootloader and recovering in case of failure requires special equipment (namely JTAG port, which is missing on the wl500g deluxe board).

    P.S. Let me know, if someone has versions other than 1.1/1.33.

  2. #2
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    For discussion of workaround, etc please use this thread:

    http://wl500g.info/showthread.php?t=1706

  3. #3
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    Update: current status

    Yesterday ASUS sent us an updated bootloader version together with engineering application which allows to upgrade bootloader.

    This new version fixes both problems indicated above: it should enable both 32MB of memory (RETAIL versions only, as some wl-500gx SAMPLES was 16MB only units) and fixes WAN port security problem.

    This version has the following hardware_version string:
    Code:
    hardware_version=WL500gd-01-04-01-50
    As indicated by ASUS these numbers stays for 1.04/1.50.
    I've updated my unit and everything looks good for now.

    At the moment we're preparing this code and detailed instructions for download, so it would be possible to upgrade all RETAIL units already sold by ASUS.

    Stay tuned.

  4. #4
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    Here it goes... I'm not responsible for any risk of using attached software as well as instructions. If in doubt consider replacing wl500g deluxe box or contact ASUS Technical Support on the matter. Attached software is distributed with no warranty, impressed or implied. This software was recieved from ASUS representative and I've no affiliation with it. The only modification done by me is setting wi-fi regulation domain to Europe (actually Germany) instead of Taiwan (as ASUS still have not replied to our inquiry).

    DO NOT TRY TO USE THIS SOFTWARE WITH THE UNITS OTHER THAN WL-500g Deluxe RETAIL UNITS. ALSO PLEASE CHECK THAT YOUR WL-500g Deluxe SERIAL NUMBER STARTS WITH 49, 4A, 4B, 4C, 51, 52 or 53. These units are manufactured in September till December 2004, January and February 2005. If you've serial number other than listed, please check your hardware_revision first (see post above) and let us know. Also, it's a good idea to check for hardware_revision anyway to be absolutely sure, that you need to upgrade your unit bootloader.

    Step by step guide:
    • Download attached zip file to your PC running Windows, extract all files;
    • Entering Firmware Restoration mode:
      • To upgrade your unit you will need a PC with one ethernet adapter only, so if you've more than one adapter (including wireless, ieee1394 or whatever) please disable it. You need to configure your adapter with manual IP. Consider using 192.168.1.2 as an IP address and an IP mask of 255.255.255.0. Once you've configured your adapter follow next step
      • Attach WL-500g Deluxe box LAN port to your PC using cable
      • Disconnect WL-500g Deluxe from power supply, disconnect cable from the WAN port
      • Push RESTORE button, do not release it yet
      • Keeping RESTORE button pressed attach "WL-500g Deluxe" to the power supply
      • Power LED should start blinking, indicating that you're in the recovery mode
    • Run burnboot.exe program, press OK button and select pmon.bin file, press Save (this is in fact Open)
    • The button name should change to reflect full pathname for the pmon.bin file
    • Press this button again, and wait for several seconds - it should upgrade your unit bootloader and reboot your unit (during this time application is irresponsive)- Power LED will stop blinking and then become steady green and you will get a message saying "Pass"
    • Close burnboot.exe window
    • At this point your unit firmware updated, but the default MAC address is invalid, so we need to change it using second program
    • Please enter Firmware Restoration mode again
    • Launch burnmac.exe program
    • Type your unit MAC address (it's printed at the bottom of the unit) in the white edit field with no delimeters (i.e. type 001122334455 instead of 00:11:22:33:44:55).
    • Press OK button again, and wait for several seconds - it should update MAC address and reboot your unit (during this time button name would be changed to Writing) - Power LED will stop blinking and then become steady green and you will get a message saying "Pass"
    • Close burnmac.exe program


    The most risky part is complete, your unit now is safe in respect to WAN part but it still has 16MB of RAM enabled. To enable whole 32MB of RAM you will need to reset your router to defaults.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Oleg; 17-04-2005 at 10:12. Reason: Affected serials update

  5. #5
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    32MB units with old bootloader

    It appears, that ASUS shipped some units with 32MB memory enabled, but they have the same bootloader version and WAN port problem as well. So, if you happen to own this unit, but want to be safe, then you still need upgrade it using instructions above.

    P.S. Users in Russia could contact ASUS Tech support as well, as these units are now officially upgraded.

    P.P.S. I've no idea about other contries. Try contacting ASUS Tech support on the matter.

  6. #6
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    Performing old bootloader backup

    If you want to backup your old bootloader (before flashing new), then it's really easy if you happen to have FAT/FAT32 usb stick/drive and it's recognized by firmware. Just open hidden admin page, type exactly the following
    Code:
    (cat /dev/mtd/0 > /tmp/harddisk/cfe.bin &)
    and then press Refresh button (do not press Enter). This should create 256k cfe.bin file on the flash drive.

    P.S. If you've hardware_version other than indicated above - drop me a mail or PM before updating bootloader, I would like to check existing bootloader image first.

    P.P.S. FTP server should be enabled for your usb drive to be mounted (accessible) by router.
    Last edited by Oleg; 17-04-2005 at 18:45.

  7. #7
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    Yet another update: thanks to viterbo, I've got new bootloader which is labeled as
    Code:
    WL500gx-01-03-01-33
    This version has 32MB of memory enabled, but it's still do not fix WAN port issue, so update is still needed.

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