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A friend of mine lives in an appartment building whose structure is such that the Wi-Fi signal is very weak. Even a USB key won't work.

I was thinking of buying an entry-level Wi-Fi router and reconfigure it as a bridge to act as repeater. Would that increase the chance of getting a good signal, or I shouldn't bother? If experience shows that it does improve things significantly, is their another router I should look at besides the Linux-based Linksys models?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Get a router that can use DD-WRT. DD-WRT firmware works well as a repeater. Meaning that it will be a hop to the "main" router. So your friend will be able to connect to whichever router has the best signal strength for where he is in the apartment. Newegg.com or slickdeals.net will have routers on sale all the time that can run DD-WRT. You should be able to get one for about $30-50 USD.

Note: the router acting as a repeater should not go in the same room (area) as the "main" Wi-Fi router as that will not do any good. For best results you will have to play around with its location but somewhere in between where your friend is using his laptop and the "main" router should be good.

Oh and if you are doing this to steal Wi-Fi , that is just plain wrong and in some cases illegal. =P

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Just what I've been looking for the past few days. –  Ates Goral Sep 14 '09 at 20:57
    
Thanks Tony. It's in no way a means to steal wifi (her neighbor has opened her wifi router to her, but she can't connect because the building is such that even cellphones can barely get a signal). I'll set it up close to a window and see how it goes. Is there an up-to-date list somewhere of what router can use what open-source firmware? –  OverTheRainbow Sep 15 '09 at 7:24
    
    
Ops poor comment post on my part. The two links above should be a good start on supported hardware. dd-wrt can go on a ton of devices now. Just make sure to read through the install process and trouble shooting documentation before starting. It will give you a good idea of what to expect. –  Tony Sep 15 '09 at 11:54
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