Which Router is Best for OpenWRT?

Michael Torrie torriem at gmail.com
Thu May 29 21:39:52 MDT 2008

Andrew Jorgensen wrote:
> Yeah, that's particularly interesting in light of the fact that he began
> the project specifically because of what Sveasoft was doing.  He's still
> committed to keeping the consumer router builds free (lower-case f) at
> least.  It should also be noted that the DD team contributes back to
> OpenWrt and one of their main devs (Felix Fietkau - nbd) is also a main
> dev for OpenWrt.
> On the OpenWrt side, though, the main devs have dropped the web UI
> entirely which leaves you with X-Wrt (webif^2) as your best option.  And
> that guy is kind of a dufus.  His philosophy is "if it does something it
> should be included" with little regard to quality control.  His packages
> step on other packages.  It's a philosophical difference I guess.  I'm
> sure in his and many others' opinion he gets things done.  The part that
> makes me sad about that is how the OpenWrt devs gave up on their web UI
> primarily because of disagreements with him.

>From what I've read, this isn't completely true about the reason for
X-wrt and OpenWrt being separate.  Recent posts on forums and such seem
to indicate the relationship between the two projects as pretty cordial
now.  I think most OpenWrt devs now see X-wrt as the web GUI for OpenWrt.

I also don't see a lot of evidence of the philosophy that you describe.
 In fact over the last year, it appears the X-Wrt is making steady
progress to something that is usable, uncluttered, and actually has
quality.  It also does not appear to be the work of solely one
developer.  Rather there are a few core developers and the project seems
very healthy.  I will watch this, though.  And certainly on my custom
router I will make sure that things that do something but aren't stable
or relevant will be turned off, as webif2's architecture makes this
pretty easy.

The problem with OpenWRT and X-wrt as I see it is that it's not really
meant for average non-techy folks to install.  Rather it's geared, in my
opinion, towards geeks and system integrators who will install it for
people, after which it just runs.

> It's not so bad configuring by SSH but it's definitely for geeks.
> Other curious differences between DD and Open are that DD's routing /
> firewalling works the way I'd expect it to while Open's doesn't.
> Specifically, if I try to go to the outside address of my router I
> expect the port forwarding rules to work their magic and give me my web
> server instead of the configuration page for the router.  DD works like
> a charm, Open gives me it's lack of web UI (with a web-server even!).

This is certainly an area of uncertainty.  In the real-world firewalls
I've set up, I would not expect hitting the firewall's outside address
from inside to do anything at all.  I doubt most users would ever try
that, although I can see its usefulness for testing port forwards.  The
beauty of openwrt (and dd-wrt too) is that you can just change the
iptables config however you want.  I think it's just a matter of the
default rules which can be changed--something I plan to do for my
openwrt firmware on my custom router.

> Also DD has support for Virtual SSIDs on broadcom hardware (though some
> chips don't work properly).

I'm not sure if X-wrt allows this or not.  Certainly if DD-wrt can
support this, then OpenWRT can too since they both use the same
proprietary broadcom wireless driver and utilities.  I know it's
supported on Atheros for sure.

> And it's neat that DD can still store most of it's configs in nvram.
> OpenWrt went away from nvram to support non-nvram-capable devices.  This
> makes sense but they could have easily created an nvram back-end for
> their uci configuration tool.  This makes upgrades on OpenWrt painful.

I haven't found this to be true, although it could be.  Changes to
OpenWRT's uci config system get stored in the jffs partition.  When you
upload a new firmware, it rewrites the squashfs partition only (well
also the partition table the the descriptor for the jffs2 partition).
Thus unless you re-run firstboot, it won't format jffs2 and won't
overwrite any of your custom settings, from my experience.

I'm personally happy that the nvram stuff is gone.  The NVRAM made some
upgrades a bit strange when OpenWRT decided to use some different key
for settings.  This left all kinds of duplicate entries in NVRAM and
confused me when I was trying to make changes and wondering why they
weren't being implemented.  Redoing the config files, on the other hand
is much easier in my opinion.  Of course from the web ui's pov it
shouldn't make any difference which system.

> On the other hand it's still recommended to reset your nvram when
> upgrading DD anyway so that's moot.
> OpenWrt's build system rocks though.

Totally agreed.  Although it doesn't seem to want to build native-hosted
tools (which don't make sense on a linksys but do on my router).  I
figured out a way to make the compiler run natively, though, so I guess
that's a moot point too.

> As you can tell I'm divided on the issue.

At this point I'd rather use OpenWRT and help improve it.

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