OpenWrt: what utilities does it have to use on the router

The router is the most important piece to surf the Internet. It is the device to which we connect many other devices and the truth is that on many occasions we do not get everything it has to offer. In this article we are going to talk about OpenWrt , we are going to explain what it is and how it helps to get the most out of even an old router that we have unused at home.


What is OpenWrt?

First of all we are going to explain what OpenWrt is . It is a project based on free software, on Linux, with a GPL license. In this way, each manufacturer that improves or modifies the code has to release it and make it available to anyone, which helps make it more interesting.

It is used to modify the firmware of a router . It is based on the command line interface, but it also has a web interface. It is an alternative option to the one that comes with the usual home routers and we can obtain different improvements and make modifications that may come in handy.

It is a distribution in constant improvement , although it is true that it has limitations. For example the number of packages available. However, it is very useful for old routers, since it is designed to take up as little space as possible and that we can install it in small storage spaces of even 2 MB. Also, it works on CPUs from 300 MHz.

Now, the fact of being able to take advantage of the OpenWrt firmware more or less will depend on our device. The more powerful it is, the more applications we can install. We can make even our Wi-Fi work better by using more of the available resources and improving the firmware that comes out of the box.

What use can you give it?

After explaining what exactly OpenWrt is and getting a general idea of how it works, let’s take a look at some of its utilities . In this way we can make the most of our router and make it work better and even install it on a device that we have not used. If, for example, you have an old ADSL router that you no longer use because it has fiber optics, it can be a very interesting option.

move tasks

One of the uses that you can give to OpenWrt is to be able to transfer certain tasks that you carry out on your computer, to the router. Instead of having the PC on to perform some tasks such as downloading or uploading files to the cloud, we can take advantage of the router and do the same without having two devices on at the same time.

In addition, the electricity consumption will be lower. After all, it is a device that consumes less. Think of traveling the same distance with a truck or a motorcycle. Which one consumes less? The same in the case of using the router compared to the consumption of a computer.

Create a server

You can also turn the router into a server . This way you can access wirelessly or by cable. You can connect a hard drive and store information and have it as if it were a NAS, something that is very interesting nowadays to always have everything available. A way to save money and not have to buy an additional device.

For example, you can save media files and play videos from TV or computer. You can do this on your old router and give it a second life instead of having it stored unused or even getting rid of it.

Router viejo como servidor multimedia

Bittorrent client

Another utility that OpenWrt allows on the router is to be able to turn it into a Bittorrent client. In this way, instead of downloading files to the computer, you can do it directly from the router . You will have to configure it and allow downloads directly to the hard drive you connect.

You can do the same thing by turning it into a web server. There you can host content, for example images or videos that you want to store, and be able to access it from anywhere. It is an alternative to having to use a third-party service, which is often paid or very limited.

print server

Do you have printers connected to the network? One more alternative that the OpenWrt firmware allows is to turn your router into a print server. In this way, you can ensure that all your printers are correctly connected to the network in one place. There are official manuals that explain step by step how you can achieve it.

The purpose of this is to be able to print from other devices. You would simply have to access the print server and send the documents you want to have printed there. It is something very useful for your printers.

VPN server

You can also turn your router into a VPN server. This way you can connect securely to the local network from anywhere. For example, if you are connected from your mobile to a public Wi-Fi network and you want to prevent them from spying and collecting the information you send if that network is not secure.

The use of VPN is very common and there are many applications for both computer and mobile. However, we can also configure a VPN server on the router itself and OpenWrt plays an interesting role there. It is one more alternative that you can take into account for your old router and give it a second use.

Check if the router is compatible

We have seen that the OpenWrt firmware is an alternative to the one that comes with your router from the factory. You can use it even in old ADSL models . In this way you will be able to achieve certain utilities, as we have explained, and give an old device a second life or squeeze more of the one you currently have.

However, you should keep in mind that you cannot install it on all. In fact, you will have to check if the router is compatible or not. However, there are a large number of models that do accept installation. For example we can see many from ASUS, AVM, Comtrend, D-Link, devolo, Netgear, Xiaomi or Linksys, to name a few of the most popular brands.

As we have seen, it does not matter if your router is old. Even if it is ADSL, you may have compatibility to install OpenWrt. You just have to make sure that that specific model is compatible and install the firmware to take advantage of all the resources it has.

You can see the complete list of all routers compatible with OpenWrt . There you will find all the brands and each of the models in which you can install it. As you will see, there are about 2,000 models for which you can install it. A more than significant figure and that shows us that we can take advantage of the old router quite probably.

Problemas en los foros de OpenWrt

However, not all models are compatible with all versions. That will depend on the capacity of each one. It is important to take into account what the minimum specifications are and thus install the version that suits you. However, we always recommend having the most recent one possible, to make the most of the resources and also avoid certain security problems.

In short, installing the OpenWrt firmware is a very interesting option to make the most of the router and even use an old device that we have at home without us using it. You will have multiple possibilities, such as the ones we have mentioned to create a server, use a Bittorrent client or a print server.