ASUS WL-330NUL or NIC and Router All in One

Introduction

External design and hardware

Web-interface

Utilities

Command line interface

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

Apart from the full-sized stationary network equipment, ASUS also produces portable router models. More than a year ago we had a publication about one of such portable devices—WL-330N3G. Today our laboratory hosts a new smaller-than-ever router by ASUS, WL-330NUL. However, let's take our time and tell you about everything in parts.

External design and hardware

A cross-functional ASUS WL-330NUL device comes in a grey plastic case with dimensions of 65x20x15 mm and due to its shape it looks almost like a USB stick.

On one end of the device there is a flexible USB cable used for connection to a PC, notebook, or charger, while on the other end of it there is a socket used to connect a wired Ethernet cable (RJ-45).

Supervisor Code, which the user will need to specify upon entering the device web-interface, is located on one of the sides of the device.

Now let's have a look at its insides. Insides of ASUS WL-330 NUL are one green textolite card; the device is powered by Realtek RTL8196EU and RTL8188ER chips. Winbond W9825G6JB module with the size of 32 Mbytes performs functions of the RAM. Macronix MX25L12845EZNI-10G with the overall memory size of 16 Mbytes acts as the flash memory.

Now let's pass on to reviewing of the software capabilities of the device.

Web-interface

Once the drivers from the built-in flash card are successfully installed, the administrator will be able to see a new virtual network adapter in the system which is automatically assigned addresses from 192.168.2.0/24 network. The listing presented below is partly shortened.

C:\>ipconfig /all
Setting of IP for Windows
Ethernet adapter Local network connection 5:
Connection DNS suffix . . . . . : ASUS
Description. . . . . . . . . . . . . : ASUS WL-330NUL USB Ethernet adapter
Machine address. . . . . . . . . : 60-A4-4C-46-2C-63
DHCP is on. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
Automatic tuning is on. . . . . . : Yes
IPv4-address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.2.237(Main)
Subnet mask . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
Lease obtained. . . . . . . . . . : 2 April 2013 20:46:56
Lease term expires. . . . . . . . . . : 3 April 2013 20:46:56
Default gateway. . . . . . . . . : 192.168.2.1
DHCP-server . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.2.1
DNS-servers. . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.2.1
NetBios through TCP/IP. . . . . . . . : On

One can manage WL-330NUL using the device web-interface, which can be accessed with any modern browser just by entering 192.168.2.1 IP address. To log in the administrator will need to enter the ID number specified on the device case.

Upon successful authentication the administrator will find him/herself on the home page of the device where s/he can choose a wireless network to get connected to or change the wired WAN-port settings. Selection of a WAN-port type is carried out depending on presence or absence of a physical wired connection. The web-interface is available in 15 languages.

By using Wireless Setting menu item the administrator can manage the main and guest wireless networks. WL-330NUL wireless module can only function in 2.4 GHz frequency range.

If it's necessary to change the Fast Ethernet port MAC-address, the administrator needs to use MAC Clone menu item.

Guest Management menu item allows an administrator to grant certain wireless clients access to the device.

Firmware upgrade and reset of user settings may be carried out using Administration menu item.

System Log menu item features log information and data on the status of the device WAN-port.

That is where we bring the review of the web-interface capabilities to a conclusion and pass on to examining the capabilities of software that comes together in the box.

Utilities

WL-330NUL UltraLink utility, which is used to facilitate connection procedure to wireless networks, is installed together with the drivers.

Apart from managing the connection process itself, the utility under review can also help the administrator to change an array of other operation parameters of ASUS WL-330NUL. A user can import wireless profiles previously configured in the system to the device upon the first installation.

Let's take a look at the advanced settings of UltraLink utility; its menu items are exactly the same as those of the ASUS WL-330NUL web-interface.

Now let's skip on to the command line interface.

Command line interface

Access to the router through Telnet is prohibited by default. In order to allow this option one needs to use Main_AdmStatus_Content.asp hidden page where s/he needs to execute telnetd command. Actually, the commands can also be executed from the command line, but the thing is that a usual kind of access via telnet is more customary to us.

In order to access the router command line an administrator must specify login and password, which are admin/admin by default. BusyBox 1.17.4 library is installed in Linux 2.6.30.9.

(none) login: admin
Password:
login: can't chdir to home directory '/root'
RLX Linux version 2.0
_ _ _
| | | ||_|
_ _ | | _ _ | | _ ____ _ _ _ _
| |/ || |\ \/ / | || | _ \| | | |\ \/ /
| |_/ | |/ \ | || | | | | |_| |/ \
|_| |_|\_/\_/ |_||_|_| |_|\____|\_/\_/
For further information check:
http://processor.realtek.com/
/ # busybox
BusyBox v1.17.4 (2013-01-21 16:14:25 CST) multi-call binary.
Copyright (C) 1998-2009 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denys Vlasenko
and others. Licensed under GPLv2.
See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
or: function [arguments]...
BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
utilities into a single executable. Most people will create a
link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
will act like whatever it was invoked as.
Currently defined functions:
[, [[, ash, bunzip2, bzcat, cat, chmod, chown, chpasswd, cp, date,
echo, free, grep, ifconfig, init, insmod, kill, killall, klogd, ln,
logger, login, ls, lsmod, mkdir, mknod, modprobe, mount, mv, ping, ps,
renice, rm, rmdir, rmmod, route, sh, sleep, syslogd, telnetd, test,
top, umount
/ # cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.30.9 (wireless@wireless-desktop) (gcc version 3.4.6-1.3.6) #2 Mon Jan 21 17:07:10 CST 2013

Let's see what processes are currently running using ps command. By using top utility one can obtain information on the current activity of the launched processes.

/ # ps
PID USER VSZ STAT COMMAND
1 admin 2420 S /sbin/init
2 admin 0 SW< [kthreadd]
3 admin 0 SW< [ksoftirqd/0]
4 admin 0 SW< [events/0]
5 admin 0 SW< [khelper]
6 admin 0 SW< [async/mgr]
7 admin 0 SW< [kblockd/0]
8 admin 0 SW< [khubd]
9 admin 0 SW [pdflush]
10 admin 0 SW< [kswapd0]
15 admin 0 SW< [mtdblockd]
83 admin 2348 S console
84 admin 1568 S /bin/sh
88 admin 1556 S syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -R 0.0.0.0 -L
236 admin 2420 S /sbin/wanduck
237 admin 2412 S wlcconnect
252 nobody 2344 S dnsmasq -c 1500 --log-async -n
255 admin 2288 S httpd
256 admin 2420 S ots
257 admin 2428 S wwanwatchdog
258 admin 1920 S macreceiver
260 admin 2356 S usbwatchdog
270 admin 1080 S lld2d br0
323 admin 1560 S telnetd
325 admin 1576 S -sh
329 admin 1560 R ps
/ # top
Mem: 12796K used, 14060K free, 0K shrd, 904K buff, 2952K cached
CPU: 0% usr 0% sys 0% nic 83% idle 0% io 15% irq 0% sirq
Load average: 0.00 0.00 0.00 1/26 330
PID PPID USER STAT VSZ %MEM %CPU COMMAND
330 325 admin R 1568 6% 0% top
323 1 admin S 1560 6% 0% telnetd
257 1 admin S 2428 9% 0% wwanwatchdog
1 0 admin S 2420 9% 0% /sbin/init
236 1 admin S 2420 9% 0% /sbin/wanduck
256 1 admin S 2420 9% 0% ots
237 1 admin S 2412 9% 0% wlcconnect
260 1 admin S 2356 9% 0% usbwatchdog
83 1 admin S 2348 9% 0% console
252 1 nobody S 2344 9% 0% dnsmasq -c 1500 --log-async -n
255 1 admin S 2288 9% 0% httpd
258 1 admin S 1920 7% 0% macreceiver
325 323 admin S 1576 6% 0% -sh
84 83 admin S 1568 6% 0% /bin/sh
88 1 admin S 1556 6% 0% syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -R
270 1 admin S 1080 4% 0% lld2d br0
15 2 admin SW< 0 0% 0% [mtdblockd]
5 2 admin SW< 0 0% 0% [khelper]
4 2 admin SW< 0 0% 0% [events/0]
2 0 admin SW< 0 0% 0% [kthreadd]

Let's find out what kind of content /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin catalogues have.

/ # ls /bin
[ insmod orf1
[[ ip_qos.sh ow
acltd iptables ow1
ash iptables-restore phyr
autorun.sh irf phyw
brctl irf1 ping
bunzip2 iw ppp_inet
busybox iw1 pppoe.sh
bzcat iwcontrol pppoe_conn_patch.sh
cat iwpriv pppoe_disc_patch.sh
chmod kill pptp.sh
chown killall ps
chpasswd killsh.sh reload
connect.sh klogd renice
cp l2tp.sh rm
date lld2d rmdir
ddns_inet ln rmmod
disconnect.sh logger route
dnsmasq login rssi
dw ls rssi1
echo lsmod rtk_cmd
ew macreceiver setmib
firewall.sh miniigd setmib1
flash mkdir sh
free mknod sleep
fwupgrade mmd_cmdr snmpd.sh
getmib mmd_cmdw startup.sh
getmib1 modprobe sysconf
grep mount syslogd
httpd mp.sh telnetd
ib mv test
ib1 ntp_inet top
id1 ntpclient udhcpc
idd nvram udhcpd
idd1 ob umount
ifconfig ob1 wall_mount.sh
infosvr od wlanapp.sh
init od1
init.sh orf
/ # ls /sbin
ATE init restart_wireless usbwatchdog
add_multi_routes led restart_wl_if wanduck
auto_macclone ntp run_app_script wlcconnect
autodet ots run_pptpd wlcdisconnect
console radio run_telnetd wlcscan
gpio rc service wwanwatchdog
halt rcheck setup_dnsmq
hotplug reboot tcpcheck
/ # ls /usr/bin
ls: /usr/bin: No such file or directory
/ # ls /usr/sbin
chpasswd.sh ip rtmon tc
/ #

Now let's turn to /proc catalog to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM.

/proc # ls
1 filter_table
10 fs
15 fsg_state
2 gc_overflow_timout
236 gpio
237 interrupts
252 iomem
255 ioports
256 irq
257 kcore
258 kpagecount
260 kpageflags
270 load_default
3 loadavg
323 meminfo
325 misc
341 modules
4 mounts
5 mtd
6 net
7 nvram
8 otg_gadget
83 pagetypeinfo
84 partitions
88 phyRegTest
9 pocket
StormCtrl pptp_conn_ck
active_usb_phy qos
alg reInitSwitchCore
br_igmpDb rf_switch
br_igmpProxy rndis_reset
br_igmpVersion rtk_vlan_management_entry
br_igmpquery rtk_vlan_support
br_igmpsnoop rtl865x
br_mCastFastFwd self
br_mldVersion slabinfo
br_mldquery startsys_flag
br_mldsnoop stat
br_wlanblock suspend_check
brsc sw_nat
buddyinfo sys
bus sysvipc
cmdline timer_list
cpuinfo tty
crypto uled
custom_Passthru ulinker_ap_cl
custom_Passthru_wlan ulinker_ap_cl_switching
devices ulinker_cdc_rndis_status
diskstats ulinker_dev_mac
driver ulinker_rndis_mac
eee uptime
enable_dos usb_mode_detect
eth0 version
eth1 vmallocinfo
eth2 vmstat
eth3 wall_mount
eth4 watchdog_reboot
eth7 watchdog_reboot
ether_state wlan0
execdomains wlan0-va0
fast_l2tp wlan0-va1
fast_nat wlan0-va2
fast_pppoe wlan0-va3
fast_pptp wlan0-vxd
filesystems zoneinfo
/proc # cat uptime
6448.65 6231.04
/proc # cat loadavg
0.00 0.00 0.00 3/26 345
/proc # cat cpuinfo
system type : RTL819xD
processor : 0
cpu model : 52481
BogoMIPS : 398.95
tlb_entries : 32
mips16 implemented : yes
/proc # cat meminfo
MemTotal: 26856 kB
MemFree: 13972 kB
Buffers: 904 kB
Cached: 2992 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 2828 kB
Inactive: 2300 kB
Active(anon): 1232 kB
Inactive(anon): 0 kB
Active(file): 1596 kB
Inactive(file): 2300 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 1248 kB
Mapped: 1056 kB
Slab: 7052 kB
SReclaimable: 424 kB
SUnreclaim: 6628 kB
PageTables: 252 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 13428 kB
Committed_AS: 4448 kB
VmallocTotal: 1048404 kB
VmallocUsed: 280 kB
VmallocChunk: 1047556 kB

We can't help to mention nvram utility that allows changing certain important device operation parameters.

/ # nvram
usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [show] [save file] [restore file]
/ # nvram show | grep admin
size: 29603 bytes (35933 left)
http_username=admin
http_passwd=admin

That is where we bring review of the device command line to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing it.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually carry out is estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the device gets connected to a PC until the first echo reply is received through ICMP protocol. ASUS WL-330NUL boots in 26 seconds. We believe that the result is decent.

The next test we performed was a security scanning procedure, which we have carried out from a PC the WL-330NUL was connected to via USB. On the whole, there were five open ports discovered, and they are TCP-53 (DNS), UDP-53 (DNS), TCP-80 (HTTP), TCP-9998 (Blocked), and TCP-18017 (HTTP). The most interesting data of those we obtained are presented below.

After that we decided to test the performance of this tiny device. The primary specifications of the test stand we used are presented in the chart below.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus V Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 3770K 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes
NIC ASUS WL-330NUL
ASUS EA-N66
Atheros AR8131
ASUS RT-AC66U
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

We began it by testing wired speeds; in order to do that we connected WL-330NUL to the wired network adapter of a notebook. It's worth mentioning that ASUS WL-330NUL is not a network adapter in itself, but a mix of two devices—a router and network adapter. Between the so-called network adapter and LAN-port of the device there is 192.168.2.0/24 network, while one can specify parameters of the WAN-port separately. In this operation mode the NAT is not used by the device and the administrator cannot prohibit this or that connection using access lists due to their absence. The transmission speeds we obtained are presented on the diagram.

ASUS WL-330NUL can act as a wireless client, allowing connection to the wireless networks in range. This time the NAT is used, but one can't make virtual servers in the internal network.

Another device operation mode is that of a wireless router upon which the device uses Fast Ethernet port as a WAN-connection, allowing wireless clients to get connected to it.

The device under review can also act as an access point, allowing wireless clients to get connected to it and maintaining a connection between these clients and a node to which the WL-330NUL is connected via USB.

In comparison with WL-330N3G, this model has not demonstrated any uplift in wireless speeds. However, it's worth noticing that we were testing WL-330NUL with the first version of the factory-supplied firmware, and we believe that users would probably see an increase in speeds using newer firmware versions.

That's where we draw the testing chapter to a close and move on to summing it all up.

Conclusion

A tiny portable wireless ASUS WL-330NUL router we have tested made a good impression on us. We haven't been waiting for any kind of ultra performance or a wide selection of software capabilities from it, but still the device copes with the tasks it is intended for very well. Also, in comparison with the previous model, a new capability that allows the device to act as a network adapter has been added.

The strength areas of ASUS WL-330NUL are presented below.

  • Tiny size
  • Support of several operation modes i.e as a router, hot-spot, wireless and wired network card
  • Ability to manage guest access via Wi-Fi
  • Decent data access speeds
  • Ability to store wireless profiles in the device memory
  • The drivers are located in the built-in flash-card
  • Ability to get charged from a notebook/PC USB-port or 220V power line

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention certain drawbacks.

  • Absence of NAT upon connecting USB-Ethernet
  • Inability to manage virtual servers
  • The drivers are only compatible with Windows
  • A hidden page that is not protected by a password

When this article was being written, ASUS WL-330NUL neither was on sale in Russia nor abroad, as well as there was nothing specified about it on the vendor's web-site yet.

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