Which third party firmware is right for you? Have you bought your router yet? If you’re working with an existing router it hinges on which enhanced firmware will support it and whether that router has enough flash memory for a more complete installation, such as one supporting OpenVPN.
* VPN GUI added by select third party software; Sabai comes pre-installed with VPN GUI; Sabai AC support is pending; Sabai cost is rolled into the price of the router purchased from them.
DD-WRT has the cleanest, most advanced GUI of all the offerings. It is feature rich and using “MyPage” integration has an easy to use VPN interface. It has an extensive list of supported routers including some that support 802.11AC.
OpenWRT is under frequent development and can be used on some of the lowest cost, lowest feature routers at the price of a GUI. It is command line only unless an add on like Gargoyle is used. However add-ons like Gargoyle have their own compatibility requirements. VPN control is all command line driven. Unless you absolutely have to OpenWRT is not recommended.
Tomato is an up and coming firmware with many forks and frequent development. It has a short list of “officially” supported routers, more are “un-offically” supported. Shibby is the most popular and frequently updated fork, which has 802.11AC support and more features with every update. Tomato is generally thought to have the QoS support, which would make it a good choice for frequent multi-tasking or mutli-user environments. More and more third-party VPN providers are offering better Tomato integration.
SabaiOS is a Tomato fork created by Sabai Technology for use in its pre-flashed Routers with third party VPN support. SabaiOS adds a number of features to Tomato like dual gateways and port forwarding. Their OpenVPN implementation requires only the configuration file from your VPN. If you buy a branded router for your VPN provider set up can be even easier.
For those in the market for new routers and don’t want the hassle of re-flashing: SabaiOS