After seeing a relevant article by @giannoug written for deltaHacker magazine, I decided to finally give the whole upgrade-your-router-for-free business a shot, since it had been on my plans for quite some time now.
First things first, I looked around for a good yet affordable router that is compatible with DD-WRT (and/or OpenWrt/Tomato if possible). I finally chose the Asus RT-N12 (rev. C1) which I bought for 40-45 EUR. It’s a Broadcom-based device with 32mb RAM and 4mb flash memory. And of course it supports the latest 802.11n standard.
The DD-WRT project has a wiki page dedicated to this model which can be found here. Unfortunately I have to report that neither of the two ways described there worked for me. First of all, I had a problem with the 2nd guide since the 30/30/30 method is reported to be problematic with Asus routers in general and specifically with models similar to mine. So I decided not to mess with it at all. As for the 1st guide, it seemed to go fine but when I used the Firmware Restoration utility (which runs on Windows btw) I was getting the message that the device was not in Rescue mode (which was falsely reported).
Luckily, even if the device seemed non functional, there was a minimal web server running, accessible through the router’s IP (192.168.1.1 in my case). There a plain website just asked for a firmware file to install since we are in rescue mode. So I selected the previously downloaded firmware file for my model and revision and the router rebooted on its own. After that, DD-WRT’s interface was right in front of me!
I will update the post if I come up with something fancy. So far, everything seems stable and DD-WRT is indeed an awesome project. Next stop: Optware packages.