OpenWrt
OpenWrt 18.06.1 login screen
DeveloperOpenWrt Project
OS familyLinux (Unix-like)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseJanuary 2004; 20 years ago (2004-01)
Latest release23.05.3[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 25 March 2024; 53 days ago (25 March 2024)
Repository
Available inEnglish, Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Welsh + 25 partially translated languages[2]
Update methodopkg
Package manageropkg
Platforms50 different platforms using the following Instruction sets: ARC, ARM, m68k, MIPS, PowerPC, SPARC, SuperH, x86, x86-64[3]
Kernel typeMonolithic (Linux)
UserlandBusyBox
Default
user interface
CLI, WebUIs (LuCI)
LicenseFree software (GPL and other licenses)
Official websiteopenwrt.org

OpenWrt (from open wireless router) is an open-source project for embedded operating systems based on Linux, primarily used on embedded devices to route network traffic. The main components are Linux, util-linux, musl,[4] and BusyBox. All components have been optimized to be small enough to fit into the limited storage and memory available in home routers.

OpenWrt is configured using a command-line interface (ash shell) or a web interface (LuCI). There are about 8000 optional software packages available for installation via the opkg package management system.

OpenWrt can run on various types of devices, including CPE routers, residential gateways, smartphones, pocket computers (e.g., Ben NanoNote). It is also possible to run OpenWrt on personal computers and laptops.

History

The OpenWrt project was started in 2004 after Linksys had built the firmware for their WRT54G series of wireless routers with code licensed under the GNU General Public License.[5] Under the terms of that license, Linksys was required to make the source code of its modified version available under the same license,[6][7] which enabled independent developers to create derivative versions. Support was originally limited to the WRT54G series, but has since been expanded to include many other routers and devices from many different manufacturers.

Using this code as a base and later as a reference, developers created a Linux distribution that offers many features not previously found in consumer-level routers. Early on some features required proprietary software. For example, prior to OpenWrt 8.09 (based on Linux 2.6.25 and the b43 kernel module) WLAN for many Broadcom-based routers could only be had via the proprietary wl.o module (and which required Linux 2.4.x).

OpenWrt releases were historically named after cocktails, such as White Russian, Kamikaze, Backfire, Attitude Adjustment, Barrier Breaker and Chaos Calmer, and their recipes were included in the message of the day (motd) displayed after logging in using the command-line interface.

In May 2016, OpenWrt was forked by a group of core OpenWrt contributors due to disagreements on internal process.[8] The fork was dubbed Linux Embedded Development Environment (LEDE). The schism was reconciled a year later.[9] Following the remerger, announced in January 2018,[10] the OpenWrt branding is preserved, with many of the LEDE processes and rules used. The LEDE project name was used for v17.01, with development versions of 18.01 branded OpenWrt, dropping the original cocktail based naming scheme.[11]


Releases

Version (Code name)[12][13] General availability Kernel Latest minor version Latest release date Projected EoL[14] libc Notes
first Stable Release 2004-01 ? uClibc Based on Linksys GPL sources for WRT54G and a buildroot from the uClibc project
0.9 (White Russian)[15][16] 2007-02-05 2.4.30 NVRAM-based, nas, wl. Supported platform: brcm-2.4.
7.06 (Kamikaze)[17] 2007-06-02 2.6.19 7.09 [18][19] 2007-09-30 Using opkg. Supported platforms: atheros-2.6, au1000-2.6, brcm-2.4, brcm47xx-2.6, ixp4xx-2.6, imagicbox-2.6, rb532-2.6 and x86-2.6.
8.09 (Kamikaze)[20] 2009-02-19 2.6.26 8.09.2[21][22] 2010-01-10 New platform: ar71xx.
10.03 (Backfire)[23] 2010-04-07 2.6.32 10.03.1[24] 2011-12-21 Supported platforms: adm5120_mips, adm5120_mipsel, ar7, ar71xx, atheros, au1000, avr32, brcm-2.4, brcm47xx, brcm63xx, cobalt, ep80579, ifxmips, ixp4xx, kirkwood, octeon, orion, ppc40x, ppc44x, rb532, rdc, x86 and xburst.
12.09 (Attitude Adjustment)[25] 2013-04-25 3.3 CoDel (network scheduler) backported from Linux 3.5 to 3.3. New platforms: ramips, bcm2708 (Raspberry Pi) and others.
14.07 (Barrier Breaker)[26] 2014-10-02 3.10.49 New platforms: i.MX23, i.MX6.[27]
15.05 (Chaos Calmer)[28] 2015-09-11 3.18.20 15.05.1[29] 2016-03-16 2016, March nftables (available since Linux kernel 3.12); New platforms: TBA if any
17.01.0 (Reboot (OpenWrt/LEDE))[30] 2017-02-22 4.4.50 17.01.7 2019-06-20 2019, June musl[31] There were only release notes for "OpenWrt/LEDE 17.01.7 - Seventh Service Release - June 2019" with a code revision "rTODO-2252731af4".[32] The official announcement of "OpenWrt/LEDE v17.01.7 service release" was never made in the OpenWrt Forum due to GPG signing certs issues.[33]
18.06.0[34] 2018-07-31 4.9.111 / 4.14.52 18.06.9 2020-12-09 2020, December
19.07.0[35] 2020-01-06 4.14.162 19.07.10 2022-04-20 2022, April WPA3 support.[36] Flow offloading (beta).[37]
21.02.0[38] 2021-09-04 5.4.143 21.02.7 2023-05-01 2023, May WPA3, TLS and HTTPS support included by default, initial DSA support, LXC and ujail support [39]
22.03.0[40] 2022-09-06 5.10.138 22.03.6 2023-12-05 2024, April Firewall4 based on nftables, many new devices added, more targets converted to DSA, dark mode in LuCI, year 2038 problem handled, core components updated.[41]
23.05.0[42] 2023-10-13 5.15.134 23.05.3 2024-03-25 2025, March New devices added, ipq40xx target converted to DSA, default cryptographic library switched to mbedtls, core components updated.[43]
Legend:   Old version   Older version, still maintained   Latest version

LEDE

This section is about the wireless network router operating system. For other uses, see Lede (disambiguation).

LEDE
Login banner
DeveloperLEDE Project
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateMerged with OpenWrt
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseMay 2016; 8 years ago (2016-05)
Repository
Available in26 languages[44]
Update methodopkg
Package manageropkg
Platforms23 platforms using the following Instruction sets: AVR32, ARM, CRIS, m68k, MIPS, PowerPC, SPARC, SuperH, Ubicom32, x86, x86-64[45]
Kernel typeMonolithic (Linux)
UserlandBusyBox, GNU
Default
user interface
CLI, WebUIs
LicenseFree software (GPL and other licenses)
Official websitelede-project.org

The Linux Embedded Development Environment (LEDE) project was a fork of the OpenWrt project and shared many of the same goals.[46][47][48][49][50] It was created in May 2016 by a group of core OpenWrt contributors due to disagreements on OpenWrt internal processes.[47] The schism was nominally reconciled a year later in May 2017 pending approval of the LEDE developers.[51] The remerger preserves the OpenWrt branding, but uses many of the LEDE processes and rules. The remerge proposal vote was passed by LEDE developers in June 2017,[52] and formally announced in January 2018.[53] The merging process was completed before the OpenWrt 18.06 release.[54]

Version[12] Release Date Kernel Notes
17.01.0 2017-02-22 4.4.50 first stable release[55]
17.01.1 2017-04-19 4.4.61 bug fixes and enhancements[56]
17.01.2 2017-06-12 4.4.71 security fixes[57]
17.01.3 2017-10-03 4.4.89 security fixes[58]
17.01.4 2017-10-18 4.4.92 security fixes (KRACK, as far as addressable by server side fixes)[59]
17.01.5 2018-07-18 4.4.140 security fixes [60]
17.01.6 2018-09-03 4.4.153 security fixes [61]

Features

OpenWrt features a writeable root file system, enabling users to modify any file and easily install additional software. This is in contrast with other firmware based on read-only file systems which don't allow modifying installed software without rebuilding and flashing a complete firmware image. This is accomplished by overlaying a read-only compressed SquashFS file system with a writeable JFFS2 file system using overlayfs.[62][63] Additional software can be installed with the opkg package manager and the package repository contains approximately 8000 packages (by 2022).

LuCI

OpenWrt can be configured through either a command-line interface or a web interface called LuCI. OpenWrt provides set of scripts called UCI (unified configuration interface) to unify and simplify configuration through the command-line interface.[64] Additional web interfaces, such as Gargoyle, are also available.

OpenWrt provides regular bug fixes and security updates even for devices that are no longer supported by their manufacturers.

OpenWrt provides exhaustive possibilities to configure common network-related features, like IPv4, IPv6, DNS, DHCP, routing, firewall, NAT, port forwarding and WPA.

Other features include:

Development

OpenWrt's development environment and build system, known together as OpenWrt Buildroot, are based on a heavily modified Buildroot system. OpenWrt Buildroot is a set of Makefiles and patches that automates the process of building a complete Linux-based OpenWrt system for an embedded device, by building and using an appropriate cross-compilation toolchain.[67][68]

Embedded devices usually use a different processor than the one found in host computers used for building their OpenWrt system images, requiring a cross-compilation toolchain. Such a compilation toolchain runs on a host system but generates code for a targeted embedded device and its processor's instruction set architecture (ISA). For example, if a host system uses x86 and a target system uses MIPS32, the regular compilation toolchain of the host runs on x86 and generates code for x86 architecture, while the cross-compilation toolchain runs on x86 and generates code for the MIPS32 architecture. OpenWrt Buildroot automates this whole process to work on the instruction set architectures of most embedded devices and host systems.[67][69]

OpenWrt Buildroot provides the following features:[67][69]

Besides building system images, OpenWrt development environment also provides a mechanism for simplified cross-platform building of OpenWrt software packages. Source code for each software package is required to provide a Makefile-like set of building instructions, and an optional set of patches for bug fixes or footprint optimizations.[70]

Hardware compatibility

OpenWrt runs many different routers and includes a table of compatible hardware on its website.[71] In its buyer's guide,[72] it notes that users recommend devices equipped with wireless chips from either Qualcomm's Atheros, Ralink (now MediaTek) or any vendor with open source drivers and specifications. It specifically avoids Broadcom chipsets as the feature set is very limited due to having no open drivers. OpenWrt also recommends choosing a device with a minimum of 16 MB of flash and 128 MB of RAM, preferably higher amounts.[73]

Adoption

OpenWrt, especially its Buildroot build system, has been adopted as the structure for other efforts. For example

Derivative projects

See also: List of router firmware projects

See also

References

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