Alternative router firmware: OpenWrt and no longer DD-WRT

 

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, as for example OpenVPN, QoS or mulitwan

SoftwareOpenwrt
GitHubhttps://github.com/openwrt/openwrt
current version 23.05.3
found2024-03-27

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:

Preview OpenWRT hardware recommendation - available devices 2024

OpenWRT hardware recommendation - available devices 2024

changed: 2023-08-22 from Bernhard (Initial Release: 2022-07-11)

OpenWRT provides a uniform and up-to-date software for different network devices like routers or access points and delivers countless additional setting options, software packages and functions. This makes it possible to combine new and old devices from different manufacturers and, among other things, to use low-cost hardware in a common WiFi, see: Setting up a home network: Extending LAN and WLAN | Improving. ... continue reading

In my opinion, however, the main advantage of OpenWrt is the ability to operate several WLAN access points in one mobility domain: Uninterrupted WLAN: Roaming (Fast Transition).

Preview Uninterrupted WiFi: Roaming (Fast Transition)

Uninterrupted WiFi: Roaming (Fast Transition)

changed: 2023-09-07 from Bernhard (Initial Release: 2022-11-01)

The marketing term "mesh WiFi" often refers to the desire for a WiFi that simply works everywhere in the house. But what actually is a mesh WiFi? And what is really needed for WiFi to work everywhere and even when switching from one receiving station to another? My setup consists of two access points, which as a unit provide a single WiFi SSID. As access points I use devices from different manufacturers and OpenWrt as firmware. The access points provide uninterrupted reception when I move from o... ... continue reading

Commissioning and maintenance

Preview OpenWrt Upgrade: Keep packages and settings | the easy way

OpenWrt Upgrade: Keep packages and settings | the easy way

created: 2022-10-19 from Bernhard

Routers that are permanently connected to the Internet should be regularly updated with new software versions. Besides closed security holes, the update brings new features and fixes bugs. Upgrading an OpenWrt router is not a lot of work, but it can be made much easier with the "Attended Sysupgrade". Originally, I upgraded new OpenWrt versions using a previously downloaded sysupgrade image. Since the default image only contains certain software packages, additional packages have to be reactivat... ... continue reading

Preview OpenWrt Practice: WLAN access point commissioning

OpenWrt Practice: WLAN access point commissioning

created: 2024-05-14 from Bernhard

This article is about WLAN: everywhere in the house: on every floor, specifically about the commissioning of WLAN access points with OpenWrt as firmware. I have chosen the ZyXEL NWA50AX as the hardware for the access points: Equipped with 2 CPU cores, 128 MB flash and 256 MB RAM, the NWA50AX supports WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and can be powered with the supplied power supply unit or optionally via PoE. The ZyXEL NWA50AX is one of several available devices on which OpenWrt can be installed, see: OpenWrt... ... continue reading

Preview OpenWRT - my router setup

OpenWRT - my router setup

changed: 2024-01-01 from Bernhard (Initial Release: 2022-10-06)

For my home network I use a router with OpenWRT. My requirements for the router are basically the following tasks: ... continue reading

Services / Extensions

Preview OpenWRT - Display bandwidth of individual devices (monitor)

OpenWRT - Display bandwidth of individual devices (monitor)

changed: 2022-07-28 from Bernhard (Initial Release: 2022-06-15)

Most routers show an overview of all connected devices, some show a snapshot of the bandwidth used, but hardly any give an overview of the amount of data consumed over a certain period of time and certainly not by which device it was consumed. To make the consumed bandwidth a bit more transparent, I was looking for a way to historically record the bandwidth per device. The firmware of normal routers hardly offer a possibility here, differently when using an open source firmware, for example Open... ... continue reading

Preview OpenWRT LoadBalancing - LTE backup internet line multiwan

OpenWRT LoadBalancing - LTE backup internet line multiwan

created: 2022-05-26 from Bernhard

With OpenWrt, it is possible to combine two Internet connections, which not only increases availability, but also bandwidth: In the test setup, the download and upload rates added up, the Internet connection thus becomes twice as fast and should one connection fail: the Internet simply continues to function over the remaining connection. ... continue reading

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 2024. See also: Uninterrupted WLAN: Roaming (Fast Transition)

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