Paean to the WRT54G, the hackable router of the 2000s

Ernie Smith recounts the legend of the Linksys WRT54G, a low-end consumer router that ended up a worldwide favorite among consumers and enthusiasts. Why? Because its firmware was derived from open-source software, thereby compelling Linksys (by then a division of Cisco) to open the WRT54G up to user customization.

A 2016 Ars Technica piece revealed the router, at the time, was still making millions of dollars a year for Linksys, which by that time had been sold to Belkin. Despite being nowhere near as powerful as more expensive options, the WRT54GL—yes, specifically the one with Linux—retained an audience well into its second decade because it was perceived as being extremely reliable and easy to use.

"We'll keep building it because people keep buying it," Linksys Global Product Manager Vince La Duca said at the time, stating that the factor that kept the router on sale was that the parts for it continued to be manufactured.