Monday, December 14, 2009

How to use your Iphone and Tomato to turn on your computer remotely without going to the app store

So you think you know all the uses of an Iphone? Well try this, making an adhoc version of a remote computer switch with your Iphone without visiting the Apple app store. So here is what you need

  • A Router with Tomato Firmware installed
  • A computer with a LAN card that supports Wake-On-Lan
  • Iphone/Ipod Touch or any phone with Wifi and a web browser ( I haven't tested others yet)

     Ok, since you have landed on this blog, I assume that you are already familiar with the Tomato firmware. It is a free custom Linux based firmware written especially for most Boardcom chipset based routers. It can easily turn your $30 router to a $300 router if you know how to install it. You can easily search Google to find out if your router supports it, and you can also Google instructions on how to install it. There is a large community on custom firmwares that try to make it do different things everyday. Ok so after you have installed the Tomato firmware, you would automatically notice that tomato supports WOL automatically. Basically it is the use of a network card to turn on the computer when you have access to the network. When you want to turn on a computer, a magic packet is broadcast on the network to reach your target computer. However it is mostly a pain to enable that feature on your computer. I am using Asrock M3A790GXH/128M for this exercise. So here are the steps.

1. Install and configure tomato to work properly

2. Enable WOL on your computer. In my case, you have to goto BIOS and enable "PCI device Power On" in the power menu. This might be different for your setup, but the principle is the same. Try to Google your specific motherboard/LAN card for instructions.

3. Boot into windows/Mac/Linux and note down the Mac address of your network card. Also note the name of the computer you want to turn on, in my case it is "server". Then turn it off.

4.If you have used this computer extensively on your tomato router, it should remember the Mac address of your computer.

5.Now here is the fun part, use your iphone on the same network on your computer and goto the Safari browser. Goto the IP address of the Tomato router and goto the admin menu. In there you can see the WOL option which looks something like below.

6. Click on the target computer with the name "server" or the one with your target computer name. If it is not on the list, then you can enter it manually in the space below.

Wait for your computer to Beep and turn on right in front of you.  Now you can turn on your computer from the comfort of your sofa simply because you don't want to walk that extra distance or if you want to brag about it(I know I will) or just because you know that you can.  Now image what you can do with DDNS, VPN setup on the tomato, you can go anywhere and turn on your computer with the tip of your finger.


Ashy said...

Hello John,
You have a nice blog.
I've enjoyed your WOL idea and have taken it to the next level.
Turn on any computer in your house remotely through 3G from anywhere you want with just 3 clicks in the IPhone. And of course, it's all securely through an SSH tunnel with 1024 bit encryption.
All you need is Tomato, WOL and a jailbroken IPhone. :-)

John So said...

Hi Ashy,
Thanks for liking the idea. I think it is kinda fun to turn on your computer remotely. I will give that a try myself.