I've had a WRT54GL in use for about 4 years without a glitch. There is no need to install any other software unless you want the features that offers. We're using the router for home use but we really give it a workout with several of us using it for internal file transfer and internet up and downloads at the same time. The wireless works well and is currently using WPA2 with TKIP+AES.
Bear in mind that it's a router and that's what it does. If that's all you want then there is little meaningful difference between brands. If you have a problem with connectivity then it is not a router problem unless it's broken.
That said, I wonder why your Netgear WNDR3400 won't hook up with your laptop. It doesn't know, or care, anything about what you're running. All routers work with FreeBSD/PCBSD because the TCP/IP protocols are the same for all operating systems. It sounds like you need to look at the network setup on your laptop.