Wireless HotSpot HowTo

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Linksys WRT54GS + OpenWRT + ChillSpot + FreeRadius (with Mysql authentication and accounting ) + PHP/Perl

Before you start

I would recommend you need to know/read

OpenWRT - www.openwrt.org
ChilliSpot - www.chillispot.info
FreeRadius - www.freeradius.org
Mysql - www.mysql.com
PHP - www.php.net
Perl - www.cpan.org

A very Brief introduction

OpenWrt is a Linux distribution for Linksys WRT54G. It provides minimal firmware with add-on packages. Its allows the customization with broad range of software packages available for it.
We will be using OpenWrt as a replacement to the original Linksys firmware that comes pre-installed with the router.

ChilliSpot is a wireless LAN access controller. It is used for authenticating users of wireless LAN. It supports web based login for hotspots.
The Chilli daemon plays a primary role in the entire hotspot setup. It runs on the router and provides users access to the wireless Hotspot.

FreeRadius is a server that manages remote user authentication and accounting.

Mysql is a premier opensource database server.
All user database, authentication and accounting is stored in a Mysql database.

Follow this howto at your own risk...!!!

I have followed steps similar to those demonstrated here. They have worked for me. They may work for you too..

You may require special customization according to your need. Let me know if it worked for you.

<yunusbookwala @ gmail.com>

Setting up the Linksys router

I used the Linksys WRT54GS routers for this setup. For other supported routers see


We need to install OpenWrt on the router. This is done by flashing the pre-installed Linksys firmware with openwrt.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->You may find the procedure to do this is a bit complex depending on your skills.

You may need to downgrade the linksys firmware to enable boot_wait. To do this <!--[endif]-->

1. Download this firmware from here

wget ftp://ftp.linksys.com/pub/network/WRT54GS_3.37.2_US_code.zip on your computer.

2. The Ethernet cable should be connected to the PORT 1 of the router.

3. Point your browser to the Linksys Web administration panel, usually its and goto the Admin Page -> Upgrade firmware link

4. upload the above firmware.

5. Once you have successfully downgraded the firmware, navigate to Administration -> Diagnostics -> Ping test

6. Enter exactly each line listed below, one line at a time into the "IP Address" field, pressing the Ping button after each entry.


7. When you get to the last command the ping window should be filled with a long list of variables including boot_wait=on somewhere in that list.

8. Now you are ready to install the actual openwrt firmware. You need a TFTP client for this.

9. Download the openwrt firmware

wget http://downloads.openwrt.org/whiterussian/rc3/bin/openwrt-wrt54gs-jffs2.bin

The basic procedure of using a tftp client to upload a new firmware to your router<!--[endif]-->

1. unplug the power to your router

2. start your tftp client

give it the router's address (usually

set mode to octet

tell the client to resend the file, until it succeeds.

put the file

3. plug your router, while having the tftp client running and constantly probing for a connection.

4. the tftp client will receive an ack from the bootloader and starts sending the firmware

Please be patient, the reflashing occurs AFTER the firmware has been transferred. DO NOT unplug the router, it will automatically reboot into the new firmware. These steps have to be done in quick succession.

A typical tftp session look like this


tftp> binary
tftp> trace
Packet tracing on.
tftp> put openwrt-wrt54gs-jffs2.bin

On windows you may try this to tftp

tftp -i PUT openwrt-wrt54gs-jffs2.bin

from the command prompt.

On routers with a DMZ led, OpenWrt will light the DMZ led while booting, after bootup it will turn the DMZ led off. Sometimes automatic rebooting does not work, so you can safely reboot after 5 minutes.

If everything up to this point goes fine, we are ready to use the router with the new openwrt.

Using the openwrt router

You can now login to the router like a regular Linux box. But the first thing after the router has rebooted is to set a password for the `root’ account.

At this point you can telnet on to the router. Once you have set a password for `root’ on next reboot you will only be able to ssh in to the router.

The default IP address on the router is hence bring your machine to the 192.168.1. network range.

# telnet

Check whether boot_wait is ON. boot_wait must be on for upgrades or recovering from bad installations.

# nvram get boot_wait

Set a password for `root’

# passwd

If you get any error setting password, run the following command

# firstboot

Or the router may require a reboot.

# reboot

Now you can ssh in to the router and start configuring it.

# ssh root@

We will be using the router as a ‘Access Point’. Run the following commands on the router.
These command set the networking parameters for the router to access the Internet(WAN).

# nvram set wan_ifname=vlan1
# nvram set wan_proto=static
# nvram set wan_ipaddr=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
# nvram set wan_netmask=
# nvram set wan_gateway=
# nvram set wan_dns=
# nvram commit

If your router need to get IP address through DHCP you only need to run these

# nvram set wan_ifname=vlan1
# nvram set wan_proto=dhcp
# nvram commit

For PPPoE Internet connection

# nvram set wan_ifname=ppp0
# nvram set wan_proto=pppoe
# nvram set ppp_mtu=1492
# nvram set pppoe_ifname=vlan1
# nvram set ppp_username=your_isp_login
# nvram set ppp_passwd=your_isp_password
# nvram commit

You may need to reboot the router now.

Installing ChilliSpot

Download following packages on your machine

A module to create tunnel on the router

# wget http://downloads.openwrt.org/experimental-20050525/bin/packages/kmod-tun_2.4.30-1_mipsel.ipk

The chilli daemon

# wget http://chillispot.org/download/chillispot_1.0-1_mipsel.ipk
# wget http://chillispot.org/download/chillispot-1.0.tar.gz

Copy the files on to the router

# scp kmod-tun_2.4.30-1_mipsel.ipk root@
# scp chillispot_1.0-1_mipsel.ipk

login to the router

# ssh root@

On the router

# cd /tmp
# ipkg install kmod-tun_2.4.30-1_mipsel.ipk

Edit /etc/modules and append `tun` to it.

This will load the tun module whenever the router is restarted.

You can use vi on the router

OpenWRT comes with the following network interfaces:

  • eth0: LAN Switch. Is used as the connection point for the VLANs. Do never use this port directly.
  • eth1: Wireless Interface
  • vlan1: Virtual LAN: Internet
  • vlan0: Virutal LAN: Port 1 to 4
  • br0: Bridge between vlan0 and eth1.

We will have the LAN not accessible through wireless and vice-versa, we will remove eth1 from the brigde

Run these commands

# nvram set lan_ifnames="vlan0 eth3"
# nvram commit

# /etc/init.d/S40network restart

Install chillispot

# cd /tmp
# ipkg install chillispot_1.0-1_mipsel.ipk

Now have the firewall in place. Copy the firewall script from the chillispot sources to the router.

Untar the chillispot source on your machine

# tar zxvf chillispot-1.0.tar.gz
# cd chillispot-1.0/doc
# scp firewall.openwrt

On the router

# rm /etc/init.d/S45firewall
# cp /tmp/firewall.openwrt /etc/init.d/S45firewall
# chmod 755 /etc/init.d/S45firewall

I had to edit the S45firewall script and change

WANIF=$(nvram_get wan_ifname)
WANIF=$(nvram get wan_ifname)

Chilli takes care of assigning IP to the wireless clients, hence we can safely delete dnsmasq the openwrt dns and dhcp service.

# rm /etc/init.d/S#dnsmasq

Substitue the # in S#dnsmasq with the appropriate number.

Configure chilli to start on booting the router

edit /etc/init.d/S50services and append this line at the bottom

sleep 5

The configuration file for chilli daemon can be found at /etc/chilli.conf on the router. Now before any further chilli configuration we will be installing and configuring the UAM server and FreeRadius server.

We will be using the Universal Access Method(UAM) for authentication and login to the wireless HotSpot. With UAM the wireless client is redirected to a login web page to be authenticated on first Internet or Extranet request.

I suppose you have installed and configured Apache httpd server to serve CGI pages. The UAM method uses the hotspotlogin.cgi script which can be found at doc/hotspotlogin.cgi in the chillispot source directory.

Place this CGI script in the apache cgi-script directory usually /var/www/cgi-bin/ of your server.

Edit the hotspotlogin.cgi file. Uncomment following line

$uamsecret = "ht2eb8ej6s4et3rg1ulp"; Change this to your liking.

The hotspotlogin.cgi script requires https(SSL) to access it. You may need to configure SSL certificates accordingly.


We will have the FreeRadius server configured with MySql backend for user authentication and accounting.

If compiling from source

# wget ftp://ftp.freeradius.org/pub/radius/freeradius-1.0.5.tar.gz
# tar zxvf freeradius-1.0.5.tar.gz
# cd freeradius-1.0.5
# ./configure –with-mysql
# make && make install

Configure FreeRadius

We prepare the database for using with freeradius.

# mysql -u root -p
> create database radius;
> quit

# mysql -u root -p radius < /usr/share/doc/freeradius-x.x.x/db_mysql.sql

# mysql -u root -p
> GRANT select,insert,update,delete,create,drop ON radius.*

TO ‘radiususer’@’localhost’ IDENTIFIED BY 'radiuspasswd';
> quit

edit /etc/raddb/radius.conf or /usr/local/etc/raddb/radius.conf

The end of your radiusd.conf should then look something like this:

authorize {
# auth_log
# attr_filter
# digest
# file
# eap
# etc_smbpasswd
# ldap
authenticate {
Auth-Type PAP {
Auth-Type CHAP {
Auth-Type MS-CHAP{
# pam
# unix
# Auth-Type LDAP {
# ldap
# }
# eap
preacct {
pre process
# files
accounting {
# counter
# sradutmp
session {

The radius.conf file is pretty good commented you can customize it as per your needs.

Edit the /etc/raddb/sql.conf and enter the server, name and password details to connect to your MySQL server and the RADIUS database.


Dialupadmin is a web based administration tool to manage Radius users and their accounting and authorization information.

Copy the dialup_admin directory from the freeradius source directory to /usr/local/dialup_admin

# cp -r freeradius-x.x.x/dialup_admin /usr/local/

Create as symlink from your web server root directory to dialup_admin/htdocs

# ln -s /usr/local/dialup_admin/htdocs /var/www/html/dialupadmin

edit the dialup_admin/conf/admin.conf. Attributes to lookout for are

general_radiusd_base_dir: /usr/local/radiusd
general_domain: company.com
general_lib_type: sql
general_radius_server: localhost
general_radius_server_port: 1812
general_encryption_method: clear
sql_type: mysql
sql_server: localhost
sql_port: 3306
sql_username: radiususer
sql_password: radius69passwd
sql_database: radius

You can now access dailup_admin with following kind of URL, http://yourwebsever/dialupadmin

Now we can move ahead configuring chilli on the router. The chilli configuration file can be found at /etc/chilli.conf on the router. The configuration derectives that needs to be taken care of are

#dns server that will be specified to the clients machines

#domain name that will be suggested to the clients
domain your.hotspot.com

#radius server IP

#secret shared between the router and the radius servers
#on the radius server it in the file clients.conf
radiussecret somesecret123

#Location ID of the router that will be sent to the radius for #accounting purpose
radiuslocationid isocc=in,cc=91,ac=400078,network=HOME_Nework

#Location name
radiuslocationname HOME,magnet

dhcpif eth1

#DHCP lease period in seconds
lease 900

#UAM paramter. URL of web server handling authentication.

#secret shared between chilli and authentication web server.
#Specify same as mentioned in the hotspotlogin.cgi
uamsecret ht2eb8ej6s4et3rg1ulp

#Domains that users can browse with out authentication

There are other parameter that can be changed according to your preferences.

Testing the entire setup
All the basic configuration has been done, and ready to be tested.

Point your browser to the dialup_admin web interface. Create a test user account.
Just a username and password will do. You can leave the other fields blank.

Start the chilli server on the router in debug mode.

# /usr/sbin/chilli -f -d

Also start the radius on the server if not running. Use -X to see debugging output.

# /usr/sbin/radiusd -X

Now with your wireless client machine try to browse the Internet.

Your browser should be redirected to the hotspotlogin.cgi page.
Use the username/password information of the test account you created to login.
Once authenticated you will be able to surf the Internet.


  • Add troubleshooting tips
  • configurations for mac authorization
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Please do not use the comment function to ask for help! If you need help, please use our forum.
Comments will be published after administrator approval.
Submitted by thc_oi (registered user) on Sun, 2010-06-27 04:29.

If you need opensource solution that easy to implement , you can try EasyHotspot. Its simple and easy to install.


Or if you want FREE hosted solution, you can try easyhotpsot-nano 

Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Tue, 2011-03-01 20:26.
You have to install their software to make it work, I don't like this, I loose all the features of dd-wrt.  Not a good option if you are running a mesh.  
Submitted by Isaiah (not registered) on Sun, 2009-05-10 05:03.

Hey, I'm assuming this will work on any linksys wrt54g, mine's verision 3, and not only the wrt54gs?

please email isaiah_hekhuis@verizon.net

 Thanks in advance!


Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Wed, 2011-09-28 20:10.
Linksys wrt54g version 1,2 and 3 work but if you are uncertain head over to openwrt.org and check their table of hardware if your model is on there it will work. http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/start
Submitted by ali (not registered) on Sat, 2010-11-06 16:18.

it will work with any router make sure you disable DHCP on your router and connect Eth1 to your router and ether0 of your pc to the inernet ,I am using this software  in my cafe it works fine in dubai 

 i am also providing computer support in Dubai ,you can see more details on www.computernetworksupportindubai.wordpress.com




Submitted by chillifire (not registered) on Sun, 2009-01-25 02:09.
Chillifire™ simplifies hotspots and offers the ability to manage them remotely. The features are as rich as for a professional solution, usually only available to professional ISPs:

·         Video and PDF tutorials showing you exactly what to do.

·         Set up different pricing plans (charge a block of time, for data usage or online time usage, or charge periodically) in your own currency with amounts you determine.

·         Set bandwidth limits, and even set lower bandwidth limits (throttle a connection) one monthly or weekly time or data allowance has been used up.

·         Grant fee access to your hotspot, by registrating user’s address details and limiting them to bandwidth, time or data limits you determine.

·         Add your own branding and logos to the hotspot logon screen, and you can charge via a proper credit card solution (2Checkout.com), or PayPal, or sell them access vouchers on location

·         Link your own 2Checkout.com, or PayPal account or both to receive the payments directly. No wait for your money, no fees charged for transferring the money, no currency conversion losses through transfer of funds.

·         Allow your customers to roam between your hotspots or limit them to the hotspot they bought their ticket from.

·         Disconnect users remotely and bar certain device MAC addresses (user devices such as a laptop) from using the services.

·         Access the router remotely (it can be anywhere in the world, and manage and change its configuration

·         Set-up a walled garden (sites and pages you grant access to for unauthenticated users), link to your own personal splash screen (first screen to appear when user connects to your hotspot), and set your own personal ‘landing page (page the user sees once successfully authenticated.

·         The service is based on redundant and load balanced web server, database servers and radius servers – not downtime for your hotspot.

In the spirit of open source there is no licensing for any software or any set-up fees, even the Chillifire™ specific management web-application. The service is free for non-commercial use as defined on our website, and operates at very low rates for commercial use.
There are many more features and benefits. Check us out at  www.chillifire.net
Submitted by Paul (not registered) on Sun, 2009-11-29 14:41.

I looked at this system and it seemed pretty good, but we eneded up using http://www.easyhotspotpro.com because the hardware was included and didn't have to be reconfigured, our customers could pay directly by credit card so they don't have to sign up for paypal to use our hotspot and we can print prepaid tickets that we put on receipts so customers are encouraged to buy drinks for free wifi.

Submitted by Paul (not registered) on Sat, 2010-02-06 18:42.

Also, the same company sells an all-in-one server/router/access point that we just installed in our new site.  It's pretty awesome.  The best part by far is the fact that everything is controlled on the built in server.  I don't have to rely on third party software and hosting.  Call me paranoid but I would rather have everything under my control.  The hotspot is at checkbox.layerfour.net

Submitted by Merchant Credit Card (not registered) on Mon, 2009-03-30 22:36.
Not sure how long clickfire has been around but Broadband connection via DSL or PPPoE  features makes it very easy for small businesses to get up and running, especially small coffee houses that want to offer free wifi
Submitted by Justin (not registered) on Wed, 2009-02-11 16:36.
We're a big company in the UK, running 50+ hotspot locations.

When we started we had a big important question: develop and use our own system, or find a company who we can work with.

There were several advantages/disadvantages with both, and we ended up using a hosted solution with a company who is DEDICATED to operate a hotspot system. Why? This is simple:

- They operate the whole system, they have the infrasructure, have backup servers, etc. (we haven't had a downtime for 2 years!)

- As we are a company who does lots of things, we needed a company who can make support for us if something is wrong. Everyone forget about the support here and if you have your own system you have to do the support for yourself!!!

- You need a merchant account if you want to use credit card billing. By using a parnter company we don't need a merchant account, we can forget the hassle with refunds, chargebacks, payment problems, etc. For those who use a PayPal only solution i have one comment: Based on the customers country, the credit card history and the purchase amount, PayPal requires users to register a PayPal account before their purchases. Furthermore PayPal may ask users to VERIFY their accont BEFORE they are able to pay. Users have to wait for their bank statement to complete the verification process which prevents them to buy a HotSpot access at your location at the moment they wanted to. This means they cannot use your HotSpot and you may loose money.

All of these are included in that 20% we are paying to this company (they pay out 70% originally but if you can generate more traffic then it can be up to 80%). We would definitely pay more if we operated our own web and radius servers, paid for the credit card company for the transactions, and did all the support.

For us, it is a winning situation.

The company called Hotspot System, i can hardly suggest them to all who want to start their own hotspot business. Operating your own system - if you are not dedicated with that - doesn't worth the hassle.
Submitted by lorenww (registered user) on Thu, 2008-06-26 20:59.

This is a good tutorial. We were banging our heads trying to get chillispot working and came to the conclusion that Chillispot needs to run on the router. Then after over a year of reading tutorials like this one, trying this, that and the other thing we had something unique.

We finally developed the WiFi Gator project and is now available to the public.
Unlike the other links  and alternatives found on this page that are revenue sharing hotspots, the WiFi Gator is something you own and run on your own server and keep all of the profits.

We have taken the best of chillispot and wifidog and created a hotspot management system that has almost every feature that worldspot and sputnik boasts.

We have a live DVD, just boot it up and click "install" Then reboot from the harddrive, everything you need is now up and running. point your routers chilispot to the IP of your new server and there you have your first captive portal.

The WiFi Gator upports unlimited hotspots, assign multiple paypal accounts to individual hotspots, Create batches of prepaid tickets with the hotspots logo (displayed in a dynamic PDF for accurate printing), Excel generated reports for prepaid ticket activity, Individually set up each hotspots payment plans(Time and prices). Every hotspot landing page has a web based wysiwyg editor.

You own it, You keep all the money, check it out at WiFiGator.com

Also the code is all open so that you can modify it all you want.

We have worked out the bugs and added many features. Setting up a world class hotspot is not easy and the response we have gotten in the past few months that we released this has been overwhelmingly positive.


Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Fri, 2010-01-15 18:59.
This WIFIGATOR is not FREE!  
Submitted by fudge (registered user) on Mon, 2008-06-02 10:30.

Great article about money making opportunities with Wi-Fi Hotspots: 

How to Make Money with Wi-Fi Hotspots?

Submitted by fudge (registered user) on Tue, 2008-05-27 11:54.
Chillispot site is now located at http://www.chillispot.info .

For those who find this information too techy and looking for an easier solution, there is a company called Hotspot System.

They are offering a free HotSpot firmware for those who'd like to start their own paid HotSpot service. The solutions are:

 HotSpot PRO

- Start a pay-per-use HotSpot service for $0 setup and $0 monthly fee
- Create your own tariff, choose from 20 currencies
- Manage your HotSpot packages, prices, bandwidth and traffic limits
- Free 24/7 monitoring service (they alert you when the router is down)

HotSpot FREE

- Start a free HotSpot service
- Limit accesses with access cards

They also have a great multi-language customer support.
Submitted by worldspot (registered user) on Mon, 2006-10-09 22:57.


No more need for complicated radius or http server. Worldspot.net provides advanced hotspot management services compatible with chillispot, dd-wrt and all other linux platforms.

All you need to run your hotspot is a linux compatible wifi router that is connected to the internet.

Worldspot.net service is free and will remain free for free hotspots! 

Worldspot offers advanced features like:

  • Multiple hotspots management
  • Connection history for all hotspots
  • Advanced access profiles features. There can be limitations set by the hotspot owner. These are valid over multiple connections.
    • Total connection time allowed.
    • Total upload volume allowed
    • Total download volume allowed
    • Total upload+download volume allowed
    • Maximum upload rate
    • Maximum download rate
    • Limitation reset time: All the above limitations can be reseted after a specified period of time from the first connection or the previous reset. This allows users to connect 1h per day, or limit to 1gb per hour...
    • Expiration time: The access expires after a specified amount of time from the very first connection. For example you can offer 2h per day during one week.
  • There can be multiple access profiles the user can choose.
  • The access profiles can be applied on several hotspots. Users can get their connection state valid on all your hotspots.
  • Private accounts (or tickets) management. These are associated to an access profile, so you can create a wide commercial offer to your clients.
  • Mass ticket creation
  • Wysiwyg hotspot welcome message edition with image and flash uploads.
  • Wysiwyg tickets customization and printing

Coming soon (the order may change):

  • multiple language translation
  • Wysiwyg full welcome page customization (unbranding)
  • MAC address authentication
  • Online payment
Submitted by berto (registered user) on Sat, 2006-09-09 20:39.

From the howto, I can't tell if MySQL and FreeRADIUS are running on the router.  Do I need an external machine to run these services?


Submitted by Sergio (not registered) on Sat, 2011-03-05 23:00.

Yes, you do need to set up a web server on a separate machine and run Apache Server, Radius, MySQL, PHP etc. on it.

Your router will only redirect your clients to this web server. Otherwise, as mentioned in some comments above you can use an external server. In this case you do not need to install anything else, Just redirect your clients to this website through ChilliSpot on your router. But they would want a share of your income if your wifi service is for a charge to your clients, or some of these services would require a small monthly fee..

Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Fri, 2006-02-03 11:28.

Hi, does anyone know if I can do this with a Linksys WAG54G as I need to connect to a ADSL line?



Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Fri, 2005-12-23 04:33.
It is really useful the information here. Thnx for taking the time and make the how-to. One thing I guess wasnt all clear: the clients will connect to the ap automatically, without any wep/wpa keys, and then will surf the web only after putting the ID/pwd? I guess they will connect to the ap with not mayor problems and will need to login for the rest, but it wasnt that clear.
Submitted by Skunk (registered user) on Thu, 2005-12-29 12:29.

It works this way

1. user comes to a hotspot location

2. He scans for Wireless signals on which he recieves IP through chillispot dhcp.

3. Now when he tries to browse the internet, he will be redirected to the login page(hotspotlogin.cgi)

4. Here he can enter his username/passwd. On successful authentication he will be able to browse the internet.

5. There is no need for WEP/WPA keys here or can be done but have never tried that approach.

Submitted by LeoLinux (registered user) on Sun, 2007-05-13 13:42.

    That's too much risk - what you guys want to use is pfsense!!! its much less risk and much much easyier to set up ... and it works for a big mass of clients if you use god hardware.

check it out:





^^ those are the very best to do stuff like that !!!



Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Mon, 2005-11-21 10:13.

in mysql line is mistake

$ mysql -uroot -p

should be $ mysql -u root -p

Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Wed, 2005-11-23 08:42.
no its not, try it...
Submitted by Skunk (registered user) on Tue, 2005-11-22 10:51.
Submitted by Anonymous (not registered) on Sun, 2005-11-20 21:25.
Hi, there's a typo in the Chillispot link. You missed the 's'.
Submitted by Skunk (registered user) on Tue, 2005-11-22 10:52.
Submitted by Pratik (not registered) on Wed, 2010-03-10 08:33.
I installed it the same way you have described. But I when I login to chillispot, It says login failed. I have already entered username and password in dialup admin. I used wireshark ( where I have installed hotspotlogin.cgi) and found that it must be a tls ssl error. It says TLSv1 Ingored Unknown Record) and so on.. Any idea..please help me!!
Submitted by nambi (not registered) on Wed, 2010-05-26 03:22.
did you manage to get it working?
Submitted by mirza (registered user) on Wed, 2012-11-14 02:58.
In the past i was looking hotspot management/billing software, i ended up using hotspotengine.com, it has the needed features, compared to other paid solutions , it has decent prices.This year they also released their hosted hotspot solutions, hotspotengine.net that was built from ground up. Both are still running well so far