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August 25, 2011 @ 8:14

OpenWRT installation from Tomato

I have an older Linksys WRT54GL v1.1 with Tomato firmware. Although I’m a hardcore Linux geek I never used OpenWRT, yeah, I know – shame on me ;)
OpenWRT wiki has installation instructions that explain how users should first install 2.4 linux kernel based image, set some nvram options, and then install or update to latest 2.6 based firmware image, but WIKI has no links how to do an update.

Tomato firmware can be accessed via telnet, if you enable telnet service by pressing button for 4 seconds or longer.
So I set nvram options (nvram set boot_wait=on && nvram set boot_time=10 && nvram commit && reboot)
After dowloading latest OpenWRT backfire firmware (brcm-2.4) flashing was straightforward through Tomato Web UI via Update Firmware tab.
Two things confused me. First is that nvram options aren’t explained on the wiki, what they do and why is that step necessary. Second is that there are no download links so for first time OpenWRT user this is quite confusing.
How do I know where 2.4 kernel based images are located and where are 2.6 kernel images located?!? I was not sure if I was flashing the wrong one and maybe bricking my device.
Now even after I used latest backfire 10.03.1-rc5 brcm-2.4 I have 2.4 based kernel image. Where from do I get 2.6 kernel openwrt firmware from? Or I just need to do an update?
First impressions of OpenWRT are awesome.
I also googled for DD-WRT vs OpenWRT comparison but on forums I just found comaparation of different project ideas (cathedral vs bazaar approach) and no feature or other technical comparison.

Filed under diy, gadgets, linux, tips&tricks, wireless


  1. Posted by valent

    August 25, 2011 @ 9:18

    Found this forum post that explains is a bit:

    brcm-2.4 : kernel 2.4, wl (or wl-mimo) proprietary driver, nas authentificator, wlc control utility

    brcm47xx : kernel 2.6, b43 open source (but less stable) driver, wpad (hostapd + wpa_supplicant), standard linux utilites (iw, iwconfig, etc.)

    There are two totally different drivers that support Broadcom Wireless used in OpenWRT:
    a) proprietary driver by Broadcom – wl. It is compatible only with 2.4 kernels and included in brcm-2.4 builds.
    b) an open source b43 driver. It is included in brcm47xx builds.

    The wl driver has still a bit better performance and is claimed to deliver better stability. However, it cannot be linked with 2.6 kernel.

  2. Posted by hbt

    August 25, 2011 @ 9:53

    Nope, trunk has a wl-driver with 2.6. I don’t know whether its in backfire though

  3. Posted by Jan Willies

    August 31, 2011 @ 10:05

    the 2.6-based target for your device is called brcm47xx, you can find it here: http://downloads.openwrt.org/backfire/10.03.1-rc5/brcm47xx/. OpenWrt trunk has already nuked 2.4 (your target was the last one with still 2.4) and is all about 2.6/3.x.

    The nvram-options are used to gain you access to the bootloader, in case you flash a bad image. Otherwise OpenWrt doesn’t use nvram, instead etc/config/.

    DD-WRT is all about binary-stuff and the webinterface. It is not meant to be checked out from source and compiled/customized by the user. Also it doesn’t run on the variety of devices that OpenWrt does.

    Make sure to drop by: #openwrt on freenode ;-)

  4. Posted by Darko

    August 31, 2011 @ 20:24

    I suppose by now you’ve found answers to most of your questions, I’v never used thw OpenWRT wiki bit I don’t see whats stopping you in filling in what you think is missing from the wiki.

  5. Posted by valent

    August 31, 2011 @ 22:03

    OpenWRT wiki rules, and I’ll fill in missing info. Cheers.

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