Pimp your TL-MR3020 mobile router

The One-Watt Server

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Many devices now run Linux – but mostly as a closed source firmware that you cannot access. We show how to use OpenWrt to free the TL-MR3020 router from its proprietary firmware and convert it into an all-around server for your home network.

TP-Link [1] manufactures routers in various performance classes. The TL-MR3020 (Figure 1) is marketed by the manufacturer as a mobile router because it is small and light. However, it does not support 3G (see the "Hardware" box), although you can upgrade via the USB port. Thus, the router is aimed at people who do not need 3G or have a UMTS stick and therefore do not want to invest in an expensive mobile UMTS router. However, the "normal" use of the router is not the focus of this article; instead, I will describe how to convert it into a mini-server.

Figure 1: The TL-MR3020 TP-Link (left) is no larger than the palm of your hand. The mini-USB hub by Pearl (right) acts as an expander.

To do this, you'll replace the existing firmware with OpenWrt [2], a special Linux distribution for microdevices. OpenWrt has a package management system that is in no way inferior to that of classical distributions; thus, only the limitations of the hardware can curb your creativity.

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