ASUS RT-AC68U – How to flash TomatoUSB for RT-AC68U

TomatoUSB (Shibby) on the ASUS RT-AC68U
TomatoUSB (Shibby) on the ASUS RT-AC68U

TomatoUSB (Shibby) support for ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless AC1900 Gigabit Router is something that I’ve been waiting for quite some time. The Tomato-ARM Team (Shibby, roadkill, Victek) released a public beta for the RT-AC68U on 24 March 2014.

With the TomatoUSB (Shibby) beta, it is time for my to migrate from my ASUS RT-AC66U. In this article, I’ve documented my process of flashing TomatoUSB for RT-AC68U. Previously, I’ve written TomatoUSB (Shibby) flashing guide for ASUS RT-N66U and ASUS RT-AC66U. Do take a look at those guides if you intend to flash TomatoUSB for those devices.

Below are some of the TomatoUSB firmware features that I had found useful:

  • Comprehensive QoS (Quality of Service) controls
  • VPN Tunnelling support (OpenVPN Server / Client, PPTP Server / Client)
  • Captive Portal (based on NoCatSplash)
  • VLAN Support
  • Multiple LAN support
  • Bandwidth Limiter based on IP/MAC

Warning: Flashing third party firmware will void your warranty. I will not be held responsible for anything that goes wrong.

 

Overview of the TomatoUSB Flashing Guide

In the following few sections, we are going to:

  1. Download and install the ASUS RT-AC68U Utility.
  2. Download the latest TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware for ASUS RT-AC68U.
  3. Prepare the RT-AC68U for flashing.
  4. Flash TomatoUSB (Shibby) onto RT-AC68U using the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility.
  5. Preparing TomatoUSB (Shibby) on RT-AC68U before usage.

 

Download and install the ASUS RT-AC68U Utility

Downloading ASUS RT-AC68U Utility

  1. Using the web browser, navigate to http://support.asus.com/download.aspx?SLanguage=en&p=11&m=RT-AC68U.

    ASUS Support for Wireless RT-AC68U
    ASUS Support for Wireless RT-AC68U
  2. In the OS drop down selection box, choose the Operating System (OS) that you are using (e.g. Windows 8 64-bit).
    The page should refresh and show the list of files available for your operating system.

    List of files available for the ASUS RT-AC68U
    List of files available for the ASUS RT-AC68U
  3. Click on the plus (+) sign beside Utilities to expand the list of available downloads.
    The Utilities link should expand to show a list of files available for download.
  4. Locate the “ASUS RT-AC68U Utility” and download it.

Installing ASUS RT-AC68U Utility

  1. Locate the downloaded ASUS RT-AC68U Utility package.
  2. Extract the contents of the ASUS RT-AC68U Utility
  3. Install ASUS RT-AC68U Utility by executing Setup.exe and following the on-screen instructions.

 

Download the latest TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware for ASUS RT-AC68U

  1. Using the web browser, navigate to http://tomato.groov.pl/download/K26ARM/.
  2. Navigate to the directory for RT-AC68U.
  3. Locate the latest firmware build (e.g. 116).
  4. Download the firmware (file ending with .trx). If you are not sure which firmware flavour to download, download the one with “AIO” in the filename.

 

Status Check

By now, you should have installed the ASUS RT-AC68U Utility and downloaded the latest TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware for ASUS RT-AC68U. let’s proceed to the next section.

 

Prepare the RT-AC68U for flashing

  1. Connect the RT-AC68U power adaptor to the RT-AC68U.
  2. Using a patch cable / LAN cable, connect your computer’s ethernet / LAN port to RT-AC68U’s LAN port 1.
  3. Ensure the ASUS RT-AC68U is powered off.
  4. Ensure your computer’s ethernet / LAN port is configured to use DHCP.
  5. Make sure you have a pointed item (e.g. pen) to press the RT-AC68U’s reset button.

Once you are done, proceed to the next section.

 

Flash TomatoUSB (Shibby) onto RT-AC68U using the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility

Preparing the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility

  1. Launch the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility on your computer.
  2. In the Firmware Restoration Utility, browse for the TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware that you have downloaded earlier.
    Do not click the “Upload” button at this juncture.

    ASUS RT-AC68U Firmware Restoration Utility
    ASUS RT-AC68U Firmware Restoration Utility

Starting the ASUS RT-AC68U in emergency firmware restore mode

  1. Power off the ASUS RT-AC68U.
  2. Press and hold on to the reset button.
  3. While holding down the reset button, power on the ASUS RT-AC68U.
  4. Keep holding the reset button until the power led starts to blink / flash (on and off).
  5. When the power led starts blinking / flashing, release the reset button.

Flashing the TomatoUSB firmware using the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility

  1. While the RT-AC68U’s power led is still blinking / flashing, click on the “Upload” button of the ASUS Firmware Restoration Utility.
    The utility should locate the RT-AC68U in rescue mode and attempt to recover the RT-AC68U.

    Using System Recovery to flash TomatoUSB onto RT-AC68U
    Using System Recovery to flash TomatoUSB onto RT-AC68U
  2. Allow the utility to upload the TomatoUSB firmware.

    Uploading the TomatoUSB firmware onto RT-AC68U
    Uploading the TomatoUSB firmware onto RT-AC68U
  3. Allow the firmware flashing to complete.

    Successfully recovered the RT-AC68U
    Successfully recovered the RT-AC68U

     

  4. Click on the Close button and wait for the RT-AC68U to reboot.
    The RT-AC68U will take around 2 to 3 minutes to complete its boot up process.

 

Preparing TomatoUSB (Shibby) on RT-AC68U before usage

Clearing the NVRAM

  1. After the ASUS RT-AC68U has completely booted up (stable led lights for wireless), navigate to the TomatoUSB web admin (http://192.168.1.1) using the default credentials (user: root, password: admin).
    You should see the TomatoUSB web administration page.
  2. Navigate to Administration –> Configuration.
  3. Under “Restore Default Configuration”, select “Erase all data in NVRAM memory (thorough)”.

    Erasing all data in NVRAM memory (thorough)
    Erasing all data in NVRAM memory (thorough)
  4. Click on the Ok button.
    The RT-AC68U should reboot.
  5. Once the router has finish rebooting, you can proceed to use the TomatoUSB (Shibby) on ASUS RT-AC68U.

Clearing the NVRAM (alternative method)

  1. Wait for the ASUS RT-AC68U has completely booted up (stable led lights for wireless).
  2. Locate the WPS button on the RT-AC68U.
  3. Power off the RT-AC68U.
  4. Press and hold on to the WPS button and power on the RT-AC68U.
  5. Wait for the power LED to blink rapidly before releasing the WPS button.
    The router should reboot.
  6. Once the router has finish rebooting, you can proceed to use the TomatoUSB (Shibby) on ASUS RT-AC68U.

Congratulations. Your ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless AC1900 Gigabit Router has been flashed to use the latest TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware.

 

Treat shadowandy!

If these step-by-step guides have been very helpful to you and saved you a lot of time, please consider treating shadowandy to a cup of Starbucks.  

  • Thanks, this was very useful.

    BTW, when I connected via Ethernet to upload the Tomato firmware, I had to make sure I wasn’t using DHCP, and manually set my IP to 192.168.1.10. Interesting.

  • Wow, didn´t know the AC68U is compatible with Tomato, just bought N66u. Maybe have change soon and with this great router of small office

  • Ronald Huss

    I can’t get my AC68U to flash at all, Using Shibby 117, and it doesn’t matter whether I use DHCP or static IP address. After the Recovery Utility, it comes back (still with the original ASUS Wifi names) no DHCP, and can’t connect.

    Any ideas before I return this router?

  • Ronald Huss

    Additional info, I tried a DD-WRT firmware for the 68U and I was able to install that firmware.

  • It took me a few attempts too. Does the Restoration Utility say that everything was uploaded OK? Are you getting the flashing power light before starting the RU?

  • Ronald Huss

    Yeah, the utility says it was successful, and when I start the slow flashing power light is happening.
    What Shibby Firmware version did you use when you first updated?

  • The first one I tried was 116.T3. But that wouldn’t run for more and a couple of hours before locking up. 117 works fine for me. Have you ref lashed the ASUS firmware to get back to a known state? Reset all the settings? Cleared the NVRAM?

  • shadowandy

    Ronald Huss,

    For me I started with the 116 T1. What you can try is try to reset the NVRAM via the WPS button to see if it helps.

    Clearing the NVRAM

    1. After the router has completed booting up (stable led lights for wireless), power off the RT-AC68U.
    2. While holding the WPS button, turn on the RT-AC68U.
    3. Keep holding on to the WPS button for at least 30 seconds before releasing it. The router should reboot once you release the WPS button.
    4. After the router has completed booting up, navigate to the TomatoUSB web admin (http://192.168.1.1) using the default credentials (user: root, password: admin).

  • Taspel

    Ronald Huss: I had the same problem. What i did was first flash latest ASUS firmware. Connected with telnet and cleared nvram (mtd-erase2 nvram). After that the router flashed correctly with Shibby 117.
    Hope that helps.

  • Ronald Huss

    Well that was the trick I needed. Once I uploaded the Shibby firmware, I followed you instructions to clear the NVRAM, and it works.

    Many thanks for the assistance.

  • shadowandy

    Ronald Huss,

    Great that TomatoUSB (Shibby) firmware is working on your ASUS RT-AC68U. 🙂

  • Kelvin

    Great writeup! I’m debating 66u and 68u. I need to order it now! Thanks a lot!

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  • kristi

    Thanks, just flashed 120 onto my RT-AC68R

  • Andrew

    Thank you very much for your help. This guide is the best resource I found on the Web. One thing should certainly be added for the post flashing phase. You should use the wps button to hardware reset the nvram. Otherwise I found the device to not be accessible via wired or wireless as the settings deviate too much in terms of naming scheme.

  • sommy

    Can’t wait to give this a try. But if you’re on a Mac, there doesn’t appear to be an ASUS RT-AC68U Utility to download. Is there a manual way get Tomato on the AC68U/AC68R with OSX?

  • shadowandy

    sommy,

    Instead of using the utility, you can try the below:

    1. Put the router into recovery as per guide
    2. Set your Mac to use 192.168.1.2/24
    3. Use browser to surf to the miniweb on http:// 192.168.1.1
    4. Upload the intended firmware
    5. Proceed with the rest of the guide

  • Curious on if there is a way to restore to stock firmware once install a custom firmware? I have a pair of DIR-615’s and they won’t accept stock firmware once you’ve flashed aftermarket firmware.

  • shadowandy

    Aaron Echols,

    To revert back to original firmware, just choose the original firmware in the firmware upgrade option OR go through the recovery web and flash the original firmware.

  • Tweekaz

    Can’t get it to work. Once I start configuring after installing, it just stops. Cant get access to anything without flashing it with Tomato again.
    Any suggestions? nvram cleared with WPS button at power up, also tried to clear it inside, but with no luck.

  • Robin

    The ASUS RT-AC68U page no longer hosts the flash utility. See http://www.asus.com/au/Networking/RTAC68U/HelpDesk_Download/

    So I think this page needs to be updated with another more reliable method.

  • iwonder

    Robin,

    U can find the utility in the CD that comes with the box.

  • Artiom

    I have flashed TomatoUSB only after reading comments (Clearing the NVRAM. thanks to shadowandy.
    But i have a question: how can I run xupnpd on my rt-ac68u? Have anybody such experience?

  • Greg

    When I try to launch the Firmware Restoration Utility I get a message telling me “Two or more wired connections are detected. Connect your computer with the router using only one Ethernet cable then try again.” This is despite my only having one ethernet cable connected. Is there a way to resolve this issue or flash tomato without using the Firmware Restoration Utility?

  • jimmy

    Hi guys. I’m just looking for the right stuff to get my usb hard drive to work on network, for xbmx on amazon firetv boxes and to also just use usb storage. Pics for back n forth on android pads, laptops and our cell phones. I hv Asus rt-ac68r router. It works good. I hv hard drive on it right now. Xbmc can see it but I can’t get xbmc to update media in libraries. Not like it was on the back of the firetv box. How do I set this router up with stock or tomato? I’ve gone through everything. I even have a WiFi extender at other end of house. Network works great, fast. Just that drive on the router setup? So xbmc can see it correctly? Xbmc fines it as a DLNA, right now.

  • john

    i just bought a new RT-AC68U. I already have one other RT-AC68U that is running tomato. Following the same guide for the new one I bought today the restore utility doesn’t work. I flashed the old stock firmware that was released on April and tried again to no avail. In the past upgrading the firmware to the latest one then flashing works but this time if I upgrade to the latest stock firmware the old recovery utility doesn’t work. do you have ny tips?

  • Thanks for your instructions, made it quite a bit easier to upgrade my router!

    I had to also clear the NVRAM after flashing the tomato firmware to make the router boot up correctly.

  • David

    Hi is any one now how to turn off led lights off on Asus RT-AC68U?Button not doing anything??

  • Griff

    I received one of these as the T-Mobile Cellspot Router.

    Nothing I did would make it take an alternate firmware. It appeared to enter rescue mode fine, but the firmware flash tool wouldn’t see it, and I couldn’t navigate to, ping, or TFTP to the recovery interface normally available on 192.168.1.1.

    I’m guessing that Asus locks these out somehow.

  • Great to see this firmware for the RT-AC68U, I tried a number of times to flash Version 2.7-128 to my router, but I could not get it to work. Eventually, I re-flashed Asus Version 3.0.0.4.378.4585 back to router to get it up and running again. After reading through these comments I will probably try the WPS button NVRAM clearing method when I feel like trying again.

    Interestingly, after flashing Tomato the router does boot up, and my old wireless SSID is discoverable but I can’t connect to the wireless or hard line. So, it does appear that the NVRAM settings stick around after a Tomato flash and are probably messing something up. After re-flashing the Asus firmware, all my old settings are still on the router as well.

  • I have been running 2.7-128 for almost 4 days now! Very nice. I had a number of issues and now I can’t recall all the steps I went through. But I think the important one was after flashing the router, I had to setup a static IP on my computer and then telnet into the router using the 192.168.1.1 address.

    I then used Taspel’s suggestion to clear the NVRAM using the “mtd-erase2 nvram” command. Then I did a “reboot” command and everything came up great!

    Oh, and for some reason the Asus recovery tool wasn’t working for me this time. It kept dying at about 58%. So, I tried Shadowandy’s suggestion of using the http://192.168.1.1 in recovery mode to flash the router. That worked great, and best of all I could do it from Linux!

    Thanks for everyone’s comments and this guide, I couldn’t have done it without it.

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  • Sean

    Great article. For other people’s reference I originally tried using my Mac. I downloaded the Mac version of the utility but this had issues (search didn’t work, etc) so I set my Mac to a static IP and connected to http://192.168.1.1. Although I was able to browse for and select the file the upload didn’t work.

    I abandoned the Mac and switched to a laptop running Windows 10. Asus offers a version of the utility for both 32-bit and 64-bit Win10. I grabbed the 32-bit version and everything worked perfectly.

    Now to set it up 🙂

  • natsumero

    I’ve been trying to flash advanced tomato and tomato and have the same issue with both.

    I tried using the CFE method as well as the restoration utility with the same issue both times.

    They both finish transferring and say completed.

    The utility goes on to do the restoration and says it’s completed and will reboot.

    – Then it never fully comes back. The power light stays on and the ethernet I’m plugged into will continue to show activity, but I can’t get to 192.168.1.1.

    I’ve done this at least 8 times, waiting up to 60minutes on some of the flashes to see if it will finally boot up correctly. It seems to just be in a boot loop – resetting itself every 15-20seconds.

    When I ping 192.168.1.1 I can’t reach the destination.

    I tried clearing the NVRAM after waiting using the wps button. It blinks rapidly like mentioned then reboots.. but no change. Also tried clearing NVRAM immediately before and after a flash.

    I tried newer and older versions of both AdvancedTomato, as well as Tomato by Shibby – same results every time.

    Using the CFE method gives the exact same results as with the Restoration utility

    Flashing back to Asus Stock or Merlin works fine – it boots up after flashing in about 1 or 2 mins and I can access the GUI with no issues. I haven’t tried DDWRT because their site has been down all day.

    I just received my RT-AC68U from Amazon.com . It shows Revision C1 on the back.

    Could it be it’s a newer, unsupported revision?

    I would really love to get AdvancedTomato running on here- Any help is appreciated!

  • natsumero

    UPDATE: I downloaded and flashed the latest DD-WRT without a problem.

    Seems to only be Tomato having an issue with this AC68U..

  • natsumero,

    Thanks for the update and testing. You can try another method of erasing the NVRAM.

    1. Flash the RT-AC68U using the ASUS utility.
    2. Let it reboot and take note of the wireless LED.
    3. Ensure the router completes it’s booting process. The wireless LED should be lighted up with little or not blinking.
    4. Locate the WPS button on the RT-AC68U.
    5. Power off the RT-AC68U.
    6. Press and hold the RT-AC68U while powering on the router.
    7. When the power LED blinks rapidly, release the WPS button.
    8. Let the RT-AC68U reboot and the NVRAM should be cleared.

  • natsumero

    That’s exactly what I meant when I said I tried the WPS button method. I aso tried the clear NVRAM button in the CFE server.

    HOWEVER, the most important point is what you refer to in #2 and 3. As I noted, the wireless lights never come back on at any point. Only the power light and the ethernet port that’s plugged in. A few of the times I let it sit 30-60 minutes to see if they’d ever come on, but nothing – just the power and ethernet with it resetting itself about every 15-25 seconds.

    During this time I can’t ping the router, go into CFE, or anything. I have to turn it off and go back to recovery mode and flash a different firmware.

    I think it has to do with mine being a newer “C1” revision. I haven’t seen any mention of anyone flashing onto a C1 revision on any forums anywhere.

  • CTG

    I just wanted to add that I just bought a C1 revision of this router and the latest tomato firmware, as of June 19, 2016 is not working. I just get stuck in a boot loop and the wireless lights never come on.

    I’m running Merlin right now, waiting for a Tomato version to be released that works. According to research I’ve done, the C1 has a new processor and that’s what is causing the Tomato firmware problems.

  • Michael Schmidt

    THANKS, just got this router, and tried a few times with no success. The firmware restore said it finished, but I still had the ASUS SSIDs, so as far as i could tell, didn’t work. BUT, after I let it boot and cleared the NVRAM with the WPS button, it booted up and DHCP did it’s thing and SSIDs went to tomato! YaY!

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