Librem 15 Laptop Wi-fi - Use Old Router as Extender?

Considering purchasing a Librem 15, but the poor wi-fi performance could be a deal breaker, given my circumstances. Not sure how well I could use it at home. I don’t have wired internet service.

I use a family member’s comcast account to connect to xfinity wi-fi. In this multi-unit building, it means the signal comes from one or another of the neighbors. The signal is usually medium, sometimes better. Serves my smartphone very well, but I’m getting old, need a computer to work from home, trying to keep utility expense down.

I’m not technically proficient, but have a little experience, and can follow things. For example, I’m writing this on a recently borrowed chromebook, using Firefox esr, that I set up on the Linux partition. NOT developer mode. Running Linux 10, with Firefox backported. It seems to lose connection here and there, which might be a chromebook thing. I can always get it back by dropping and reconnecting the vpn, or the wireless connection directly. The point is, though I’m not technically proficient, I think I can benefit from some technical advice here.

Really want a Librem 15, but I won’t spend the money if I think I’m going to be fighting poor/inconsistent connectivity.

Found this article about leveraging an old router, as an extender. I’m wondering if the thing might be better at picking up the xfinity mesh signals than the Librem 15? If so, would this actually act as a signal booster? I have a Netgear AC1900 R7000, same as used in the article. Thinking I could bring it to my daughter’s place (not in the same building, she has cable internet) and set it up, bring it back to my apartment to use. I’d love to flash open firmware onto it too, maybe dd-wrt, especially if that would help it with the signal in any way.

Here’s that article:,review-5166.html

Appreciate any advice.

hello and welcome !

you can see here > that you can grab the same 15 inch model with or without a wifi module. right now it’s on sale for 200$ less than normal price and you could use that money to grab something like this >

or if you’re ok with using non-free firmware then you could grab one of those listed here >

now just to be clear i don’t recommend you to chose a non-free variant i just gave you a link so you can compare to see what you might be missing out on if you chose the light-side … there are hacks to get better reception but for that you’d need somebody with a little more experience than yourself to help you set yours up …

Thanks for the alternate ideas. If it turns out my unused Nighthawk isn’t the answer, I’ll explore those.

For now, I’m really interested in seeing if this Nighthawk router, in extender mode, can boost the signal coming in from the mesh. I already own it, and it’s just sitting here unused.

Didn’t occur to me before: the chromebook always shows the wi-fi signal as medium or weak, never strong, so maybe I could use it to test the idea. If the router boosts the signal, maybe the signal at the chromebook would indicate that?

I am definitely following this. Especially since I will be getting a Librem Mini late this year or early next year. As long as the wired connection is great, then moving into a home office next to the router would be okay.

It’s been awhile since I looked into flashing DD-WRT onto this Nighthawk, but I think I read a technical account somewhere that the latency actually improved slightly with the DD-WRT firmware.

I’m hunting for, reading, info now. Seems simple enough to do under Netgear, but it’s also a feature of DD-WRT.

Does anyone have any experience using the Nighthawk r7000 as a repeater/extender?

Another option would be NOT to use the old router as a WiFi extender as such but instead to connect in to it via ethernet. Whether this is viable depends on a few things:

  • can the old router do that at all? (in other words the old router would be acting strictly as a wireless bridge)
  • does the physical positioning work in your place of residence? i.e. you will want the old router positioned for best neighbourly signal leeching but then you need to be able to run an ethernet cable from the router to where you would like to work
  • you would need to buy an ethernet USB dongle

Dare we ask whether this is even legal? within the Terms of Service? :slight_smile:

Yes, the R7000 can be configured as a bridge, but this isn’t what I’m after. I’m not looking to hack anyone’s connection, to be inside anyone’s intranet.

I pay for the family’s phones and internet, and use the Xfinity wi-fi service to keep my phone data use down. My name’s on the account, but not the mailbox, at this point. Anywhere you go in this country, if you have a Comcast account, and are within range of another Comcast customer, you have mobile internet access.

Anyway, now that you mention it, I think I saw somewhere this can be configured as an extender/repeater, to connect out wirelessly, and wired to the laptop. If I get your point, you’re thinking there’s less latency running copper between the extender and the machine, even thru a dongle?

I was more thinking that you 100% take out of the equation your original concern, namely “poor WiFi performance [of the Librem 15]”.

You may also improve throughput since a WiFi repeater typically halves your throughput. Whether that is a consideration depends on the speed of the internet connection. Fast internet connection, it might be. Slow internet connection, you won’t notice.

Hah! Of course.

See? I did say I wasn’t technically proficient…

Thank you!

Doesn’t it seem odd, that I haven’t put any money down yet, and I’m scheming workarounds, due its sketchy reputation?

Sounds like a bad Noir flick.

I’d recommend against wireless bridging - the only decent performance will be on multiradio mimo (r7000 actually has that) using WDS bridging (r7000 doesn’t have this).
Best approach would be to take powerline adapters (to extend ethernet) and plug r7000 as AP there.

Is that going to work in an MDU???

Yes, you usually have your own power breaker which makes your flat a grid-on-a-stick. You can put even low-pass filters there if you have some concerns over interference.

I appreciate your advice, but I’m not sure what you mean.

My understanding of a bridge is, access between routers, everyone visible to each other. I don’t have wired internet service to my unit. I wouldn’t have physical access to the router sending the wireless signal, in this case. It’s a Comcast Xfinity wireless modem/router feature, a separate “public” channel, that other customers can access, without compromising the account of the person renting the modem.

My thinking here is, to try to use the r7000 as a means to more effectively pick up a wireless signal than is possible with the Librem 15’s radio.

If your suggestion is a way to avoid a long ethernet cable from wherever the r7000 needs to be, I can understand that. That sounds like a great piece of advice.

So you don’t have any ethernet port on your comcast device?
I know this setup, I have the same but on my rented docsis cisco device I have some configuration sections which are available to me, namely wifi configuration and ethernet configuration. The public wifi and uplink sections are protected so i cannot touch them.

Yes, precisely.

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Right. I’m on a comcast account at my daughter’s and her mother’s place, several blocks away. I use my login to access the Xfinity wi-fi internet at my apartment. Apparently, one or several of my neighbors are on Comcast.

Recently, the signal is less. Not much issue for this borrowed chromebook.

Oh right, if it is another block you need to make sure you’re on the same line, which may not be the case and then this advice is not applicable.

Ok. Thank you.

It’s past my bedtime - I appreciate your patience.

Still seems valid. If this router is better at picking up a signal than the Librem, I can hang it wherever it needs to be to get the best signal, and use your advice to get it to my laptop without the long ethernet cable.

Seems worth a shot.