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Has anyone out there ever tried to hack the Airport Extreme, specifically with regard to the USB port? There are many cellular routers available that provide WiFi sharing of a USB modem link. However, instead of buying yet another router, I'd like to use my expensive Airport Extreme with it. The AE has a USB port on the back, but it's been said that it only talks to printers. Is there a way to hack the USB driver on the AE to allow it to recognize a USB modem, then use that as the connectivity instead of the LAN?

I would imagine that one could use OpenFirmware to boot something on the AE. If one can boot it, then one could provide access using SSH across the lan. Once access is granted, then let the hacking begin... but I don't know how to (a) get the mini-osx on to USB (is it the same as the ATV without a UI?) or (b) how to load up certain things once boot has begun.

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am not aware of any firmware for the modern Airport base stations other than the official Apple ones. Adding support for new types of hardware sounds rather ambitious, so I'd expect it to follow simpler tweaks like adjusting the signal strength.

Others may have better info, though.

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You can use other device to transfer the usb modem into a wifi hotspot, just like SM said to plug your 3g modem into a laptop and turn on the wifi sharing.

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Perhaps, but that doesn't really answer the question that was asked. –  pjmorse Sep 11 '12 at 11:02
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Another idea is to turn internet sharing on in the computer to which you connect your 3G USB modem. This way you convert your mac into a router itself rather than buying an additional router. I have this set-up for my temporary location and it works like a charm...

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Matt G is correct. So far there has yet to be any firmware hacks for the Airport Extreme. As a proud owner of two of them I can say, I believe that they run some sort of embedded version of BSD. However, this does not mean that it is similar to the appleTV (which I also own). I won't go into detail since this is already off topic, but the I believe the appleTV could be hacked by decrypting the firmware and injecting a SSH server into the image, which with a mac would not be extremely difficult.

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