Linksys BEFSR41 Firmware 1.45.7 Problems

I have a venerable Linksys BEFSR41 version 1 firewall/router. It’s been a sturdy, faithful little device, routing tons of data for me in the years I’ve had it.

It has problems with the new swarm download protocol BitTorrent, though. It regularly hangs, requiring a power-cycle reset to get going again. BitTorrent works fine, of course, but it’s a drag to have to reset the router a bunch of times during a big download.

Since the Linksys is running year-old firmware, and there is a newer firmware version 1.45.7 for it, I took the opportunity to upgrade before downloading the latest ISO of the stylin’ CD-based Linux Knoppix. Unfortunately, it didn’t really help; it still crashed periodically during the download.

The real problem, though, was that my POP3 mail checker stopped working after the upgrade. The POP3 checker runs on a Linux server — I’ll call it “Alpha”. It took some diagnosis, but here’s what I found.

  • My connection to the Internet is over Comcast cable, with an RCA cable modem.
  • Telnet on port 110 from Alpha to my mail server (also a Linux box) acted strangely. The remote server would connect, but not print the “+OK POP3″ herald until I sent a character. It behaved similarly as I issued other commands such as “USER” or “PASS”, with the general effect that its would be responding to the previous command each time. Needless to say, this confused the POP3 mail checker’s state machine, and was the reason it stopped working.
  • I run VMware on Alpha, and instances of Windows within it. Oddly enough, from a VMware Windows 2000 instance — let’s call it “Beta” — running on Alpha, telnet on port 110 to the mail server worked fine, and didn’t run out of phase with commands.
  • I did quick tests of HTTP (by hand) and SSH (using the ssh command) from Alpha. HTTP seemed to work okay (perhaps because the protocol doesn’t expect anything from the server to get started), but SSH didn’t want to start.
  • To make sure something wasn’t set to a bad state after the BitTorrent download, I turned off all the computers and networking gear, then restarted everything. POP3 still didn’t work from Alpha.
  • I downgraded the Linksys firmware to 1.44.2z, the previous working version I had been running. POP3 from Alpha worked fine again.
  • To make sure it was the firmware, I upgraded to 1.45.7 again. The POP3 problem came back.
  • Downgraded to 1.44.2z, the POP3 problem went away.

So, everything’s working okay again, except BitTorrent downloads. I’m still pretty happy with the Linksys box, as it’s served me well, but it looks like I should stick with 1.44.2.z for now. I’m going to copy this message to my blog, to the forums at BroadbandReports.com, where it seems like others have had similar problems with stalled email because of 1.45.7 (along with other problems; search for “1.45.7″), and to the Linksys comments page.

Comments (2)

  1. GSJ wrote::

    Yup,

    Upgrade to 1.45.7 made things worse then before. Now, not only still hangs but it is also getting stuck while downloading large files. Even as big as 100k!

    Friday, March 12, 2004 at 05:46 #
  2. Trey wrote::

    Just this morning I began to encounter issues with my, as you put it, trusty venerable Linksys BEFSR41. I’ve been having problems with POP3 sending (but retreiving works fine). For a while I thought it might be some sort of WindowsXP service pack issue or something, now that they’ve unwisely decided to jump into the firewall game and start making them default, along with virus protection etc., so at this point I have very little idea what’s going on under the hood. I’ve found myself having to disable any and all protection from WinXP, just to make sure I knew all the variables in the equation. Anyway, this morning the Linksys started bouncing up and down wildly. The diag light lit intermittently, then everything went back to normal for about 12 seconds or so, then it would light again. Each time this happens, both computers tied into the router would alarm me about the network connection being missing or unreliable, etc. I took the time to upgrade firmware to 1.46.02 (latest on Linksys website) and so far things are a bit more stable, but I’ve been only allowing one computer onto the router. I’m about to start up the other one and see what happens. Can routers just go bad somehow, without being moved or anything? I suppose it’s all just chips and such and something might have worn out. What a drag if so. I should note that I was on 1.45.7 for almost 1.5 years without any problems POP3, router hardware/software, or otherwise…

    Friday, April 1, 2005 at 09:36 #