January 19, 2012

Extending Tomato with Optware

I had waxed eloquent about the flexibility, freedom and capabilities extended by open source tools in general, and the Tomato USB in particular. Little did I know, that this was just the tip of the iceberg of capabilities offered by the third party firmware on my Netgear router.

The big extension to the core capabilities offered by the firmware is available via the installation of Optware. At its core, Optware is an advanced package manager, built for distribution of software packages across a number of platforms, including the TomatoUSB router firmware.

Optware comes with a variety of packages compiled and available in it's repository. This repository extends the capabilities of the router firmware, from their stripped down, small-footprint cousins to the full featured Linux box tools.

Tomato has inbuilt support for Optware. But it needed a bunch of work, to prepare the setup for Optware. In particular there were two things that had to be done:

  • Format the connected storage in EXT3. My terabyte RAID had been originally formatted in NTFS. While TomatoUSB has support for NTFS, but it is slow and painful, and fundamentally missing capabilities. Not something that lends itself for Optware.
  • Figure out where /opt is going to mounted.

There is no easy way to convert NTFS to EXT3 - other that the slow and methodical approach. Take files off the NTFS file system, format the disk as EXT3, and copy the files back. There are several tutorials out there, like this one - the only tweak was that I ended up using the mkfs.ext3 script available on the router to format the disk.

An aside, the cheap Terabyte RAID survived and is thriving through this all - including the EXT3 formatted drive.

Now mounting storage on /opt where Optware will be installed, seemed tricky at first, but ended up being pretty simple. The reason it seemed tricky was that I created only one partition on the storage when I formatted it as EXT3. My worry was that I'd have to re-size the partition and add a new one, which could then be mounted on /opt.

Turns out, you can mount the same device on multiple mount points. And given that I am already automounting the USB device, I figured all I had to do was to mount a sub-folder on /opt. Adding the following in the “Run after mounting” script-box, did the trick.

if [ -d /mnt/Teranarchy/optware ]; then mount -o bind /mnt/Teranarchy/optware /opt fi

Once I had space available on /opt - installing Optware is simple. As simple as running the following on a shell after logging in via Telnet or SSH.

wget http://tomatousb.org/local--files/tut:optware-installation/optware-install.sh -O - | tr -d '\r' > /tmp/optware-install.sh chmod +x /tmp/optware-install.sh sh /tmp/optware-install.sh

That is it. Optware does a great job of obtaining and installing all the packages. And because Tomato already has the correct folders in $PATH variables, all the tools and capabilities are available instantly from any shell.

Now that I have Optware, it is time to start doing something more interesting. Like installing a VPN on the router. Coming up next.

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