Site-to-Site VPN between on premise network and Azure using DD_WRT and Entware / StrongSwan – part 2 of 5

Introduction

This is Part 2 of the series of articles about setting up site-to-site VPN between on premise LAN and Azure. If you missed the Part 1 please check it out here:

Site-to-Site VPN between on premise network and Azure using DD_WRT and Entware / StrongSwan – part 1 of 5

In Part you you will find out how to replace the T-Mobile firmware with DD-WRT

Flash Asus T-Mobile Cellspot with DD-WRT

I used the instructions from Asus T-Mobile Cellspot. The main problem was that there were too many external links to follow and too many edits / way to do a certain thing. With so much information you can get lost. My goal is to give you a streamlined process to follow – the same that I followed and that worked for me.

The overall process is as follows:

  1. Download tools and firmwares
  2. Downgrade the actual firmware
  3. Backup the CFE (Common Firmware Environment)
  4. Patch the CFE (change the MAC addresses and the secret code numbers)
  5. Flash the patched CFE
  6. Install Merlin firmware
  7. Install DD-WRT firmware

Downgrading the CFE and the firmware is required in order to “unlock” the router. Without this it will not allow you to flash a third-party firmware like Merlin or DD-WRT.

I am not sure why Merlin was installed before DD-WRT. I followed the instructions and it worked.

Download tools and firmwares

The original article has link to a .rar file that has the tools. I ended up not using some of them (the HEX editor for example). Because of that I compiled my own tmo2ac68u.zip file that has the tools and firmwares I used. Download the file by clicking the link above. Unzip it. It should look like this:

Downgrade the firmware

You need to flash the older firmware found in 02. T-Mobile Firmware folder. Do the following:

  1. Connect a cable to the Ethernet port of your computer. The other end connect to one of the LAN ports of the router. LAN ports are yellow.
    I made the assumption your computer has an Ethernet port. If not – find one that has – you need to be connected with a cable:


    You also need to set a static API address for your Ethernet adapter as shown below:
  2. Disable Wi-Fi. This is to prevent any IP conflict in case the router and your LAN are on the same sub-net.
  3. Place the router into “recovery mode” by doing the following:
    1. Turn off router with push button
    2. Press and hold reset button
    3. Turn on router with push button
    4. Release reset button when power light flashes slowly
      NOTE: This can be tricky. I was not able to get the power light to flash. I had to try several time and also to use WPS button as described here: Recovery Mode Flashing Instructions
  4. Use browser to go to router homepage (192.168.29.1 for T-Mobile). You should see something like this:

5. Click Browse and select TM-AC1900_3.0.0.4_376_1703-g0ffdbba.trx file from 02. T-Mobile Firmware folder.
6. Click Upload.
7. Perform NVRAM reset by doing:
* Power off the router
* Hold the WPS Button
* Power on the router and keep the WPS pressed for 10-15 seconds
* Reboot and allow 5 minutes to rebuild NVRAM variables.

Backup the CFE

Go to the router homepage (http://192.168.29.1). Enable telnet by navigating: Administration -> System -> Enable Telnet=Yes -> click ‘Apply’

You have to back up the original CFE to a USB stick. The files are small so any size should work, Make sure is is formatted as FAT32.

  1. Plug the USB to your computer and copy the following files from “01. CFE & Tools” folder:mtd-write
    rt-ac68u_1.0.2.0_us.bin
    cfe.exe
  2. Rename rt-ac68u_1.0.2.0_us.bin to new_cfe.bin
  3. Remove safely (eject) the USB from your computer and connect it to the black (USB2.0) port on the back of the router: Run putty.exe from “01. CFE & Tools” folder and connect to 192.18.29.1 on port 23.
  4. Login with username admin and password password providing you did not change the default ones.
  5. Save existing CFE onto USB stick:

    Replace USB_NAME with USB flash drive name:

  6. Wait 10 seconds and remove the flash drive from the router

Patch the CFE

  1. Plug the USB to your computer and verify you have the following file present:
    mtd-write
    new_cfe.bin
    original_cfe.bin

    cfe.exe
  2. Run cfe.exe. This will read the MAC  addresses and the secret code number from original_cfe.bin and will save it in new_cfe.bin
    You should see a message that says the process completed successfully. If you don’t see it try to do it manually as described under Section 5 here.
  3. Eject the USB drive from your computer and connect it to the USB 2.0 port on the router.

Flash the patched CFE

  1. Wait 15 seconds and perform NVRAM reset (see above for how to do it in case you forgot).
    NOTE: This is the part that I was not sure if needed but I followed it. NVRAM reset disabled the telnet and restored the default username and password. This is something to pay attention for. Please, enable telnet again.
  2.  Use putty to connect to the router at to 192.18.29.1 on port 23 and run this commands:

    Again – replace the USB_NAME with the name of your usb drive
  3.   Wait 15 seconds and reboot the router by typing this command:reboot <Enter>
  4.  Wait until the router is completely rebooted (2-3 minutes to be safe) and perform NVRAM reset (see above for how to do it in case you forgot).
  5.  The NVRAM reset should disable the telnet. Please, enable it again and connect to the router
  6. Verify the version of the CFE by running this command:nvram get bl_version <Enter>It should show 1.0.2.0

Install Merlin firmware

  1. Place router in recovery mode
  2. Flash Merlin firmware from “03. Merlins Firmare” folder via the CFE Webserver recovery mode
  3. Perform NVRAM reset

Install DD-WRT firmware

  1. Enable Telnet and connect to the router
    NOTE: After flashing Merlin the IP address of the router changed from 192.168.29.1 to 192.168.1.1. I had to change my static address from 192.18.29.2 to 192.18.1.2 to be able to connect via telnet.
  2. Go to Administration -> Firmware Upgrade and flash the Brainslayer version of DD-WRT fount in 04. DD-WRT Firmware\01. BrainSlayer folder.
  3. Enable Telnet and connect with putty
  4. Run these to clean the NVRAM and reboot:
  5. Use the web interface and go to Administration -> Firmware upgrade  and flash the Kong version of DD-WRT found in 04. DD-WRT Firmware\02. Kong folder
  6. Perform NVRAM reset by doing:
    * Power off the router
    * Hold the WPS Button
    * Power on the router and keep the WPS pressed for 10-15 seconds
    * Reboot and allow 5 minutes to rebuild NVRAM variables.

That’s it ! In the next part we are going to install Entware-ng:

Site-to-Site VPN between on premise network and Azure using DD_WRT and Entware / StrongSwan – part 3 of 5

 

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