Alternative router firmware: OpenWrt and no longer DD-WRT

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Router manufacturers usually provide updates for their products only for a limited period of time, often leaving security holes on older devices unpatched. One possibility to provide the hardware with an up-to-date operating system (OS) again is offered by the freely available router firmware: OpenWRT. In addition, OpenWRT can extend the functionality of the router with additional services, such as VPN, additional statistics, or when using multiple devices, with WiFi roaming, see also: Set up network for home: Expand and improve your LAN / WiFi.

OpenWrt

OpenWrt is not only the oldest open source router project, it is still actively developed and maintained today. OpenWrt offers for devices of different manufacturers beside regular current updates also innumerable extensions.

SoftwareOpenwrt
GitHubhttps://github.com/openwrt/openwrt
current version 22.03.3
found2023-01-10

Whether a particular device is supported by OpenWrt can be looked up on OpenWrt's "Table of Hardware" page: https://openwrt.org/toh/start. The page also describes how to upload the firmware for the particular device: https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/installation/installation_methods/see_devicepage.

If you are looking for a new device for OpenWRT, you should take a look at our filtered hardware list: OpenWRT hardware recommendation - available devices 2023.

DD-WRT

DD-WRT was the first choice as an alternative router firmware for a long time and still offers firmware images for a variety of different devices. In recent years, however, development has stalled somewhat, and only beta versions have been updated since 2008. DD-WRT offers an alternative especially for routers with Broadcom chips, since DD-WRT has permission to use proprietary, closed-source wireless drivers from Broadcom. OpenWrt, on the other hand, uses only free and open source drivers (FOSS), see: openwrt.org/meta/infobox/broadcom_wifi.

Software DD-WRT
Manufacturer / Download dd-wrt.com
current stable version v24 SP1
found 2008-04-25

Conclusion

With DD-WRT, and later OpenWrt and LEDE, I have been an early adopter of open source firmware for my routers. I can provide the devices with software updates for a very long time and thus operate them for many years. My current router is from 2017 and could be upgraded with a 30$ access point in 2022. The disadvantage of my setup is certainly, the one-time higher configuration effort. Devices from specific manufacturers may offer easier setup, but not as much flexibility and sustainability. If I need an additional access point for the basement in the future, I can use one of the many inexpensive devices from any manufacturer to expand my network without a problem: OpenWrt Hardware Recommendation - available devices 2023. See also: Uninterrupted WLAN: Roaming (Fast Transition)

 

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Updated: 2023-01-05 von Bernhard 🔔


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