Which version of OpenWRT is this for?

June 15, 2009

OpenWRT is one of those great projects which suffers for lack of documentation. Even worse, there have been three generations of configuration methods, and the existing documentation and user-written howtos can often be vague about which version they refer to. Some commands are future compatible (meaning they will work on later versions of the firmware) and some are not. Some may work, but in less than optimal ways and leave you with a mess to maintain in the long run.

(A similar problem exists with Xorg where many, many users who aren’t and don’t want to be X gurus but who know a few tried and true xorg.conf hacks have gone into their systems over the last year only to discover they no longer have an xorg.conf. Now, maybe you can just add a file to replace the non-functioning background magic, but you’ll be left wondering what you’re giving up, what might break down the line, and so on. And you probably wont find a simple answer for a modern system yet. You’ll have to wade through mountains of mailing list and forum postings, and reconstruct the workings of the new style X server in your own mind, which is exactly what you wanted to avoid.)

So, for those who don’t pay much attention to these sorts of goings on in OpenWRT land (how often do most of us reconfigure our networks?), here’s a set of rules of thumb for recognizing the version of OpenWRT any given online tutorial applies to:

  • If you will be changing NVRAM settings, it’s for the old WhiteRussian release. (You should probably upgrade if you’re still using this.)
  • If you are editing config files which resemble those of a normal Linux system in /etc, it’s for Kamikaze 7.x series. Many of these config files will still be read in the current 8.09.x series if present, but don’t necessarily count on it. You should be able to figure out the launch process for each package by reading the init scripts.
  • If you are editing files in /etc/config or using uci, this is for Kamikaze 8.09 or later. In this series the LuCi web interface is also on by default, if that’s your thing.* Occasionally something shows up in the forums which uses uci directives which don’t seem to exist in stable. Also, you may find yourself adding options which the init scripts do not yet process, so you will have to edit them in.

OpenWRT is indispensable, and like much great software, those using it would rather keep using and improving it than document it and clean up the existing mess of documentation. Hopefully this helps with a little of that weeding for the new user.

* You can remove the LuCi web interface from OpenWRT Kamikaze by killing the process and running:
opkg remove -recursive luci-*


2 Responses to “Which version of OpenWRT is this for?”

  1. Bob dole Says:

    Use the source as documentation ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. Vicki Says:

    If anything, OpenWRT documentation continues to get worse as time goes on.

    Thanks for the tip on removing luci though.

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