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Linksys Endorses OpenWrt Linux-Based Open Source OS in Latest Router

Open source firmware is the headline feature in the newest router from Linksys, the WRT1900ACS, which features vendor-endorsed compatibility with the latest version of the Linux-based OpenWrt router OS.

Christopher Tozzi

October 9, 2015

2 Min Read
Linksys Endorses OpenWrt Linux-Based Open Source OS in Latest Router

Open source firmware is the headline feature in the newest router from Linksys, the WRT1900ACS, which features vendor-endorsed compatibility with the latest version of the Linux-based OpenWrt router OS.

The device doesn’t ship with OpenWrt by default, but Linksys said it “has collaborated with OpenWrt and Marvell to provide full open source support for the WRT1900ACS in OpenWrt’s stable and development branches.” OpenWrt 15.05, the latest stable release of the open source firmware, can be readily installed on the WRT1900ACS, according to the company.

Linksys is touting the OpenWrt compatibility as a way for power users to get more from their router hardware. “OpenWrt is a modular system, where users can select and install additional features on top of pre-compiled firmware images from the open source community such as BitTorrent support, multiple VPN clients and servers, advanced QoS and firewall features, media file-sharing, and captive portal support for creating Wi-Fi hot spots,” the company said. “This modularity allows networking-savvy users to fully customize the feature set of their router to better suit their particular needs.”

The router, which is an updated version of the Linksys WRT1900AC, also features hardware improvements. Those include a 1.6GHz ARM processor (an improvement from the 1.2GHz chip in the older device), double the amount of RAM (now, it totals 512 MB) and 128MB of flash memory.

For some open source firmware fans, the new Linksys device may not seem particularly exciting. OpenWrt has been compatible with many routers from Linksys and other vendors for years. (Those devices also support other open source firmwares, such as DD-WRT.) In that sense, it’s not exactly a huge deal that the WRT1900ACS supports OpenWrt.

The $229 price tag of the new device—which Linksys has priced lower than its predecessor, but which remains much higher than that of some other OpenWrt-compatible routers—may also be a turn-off for users interested in affordable wireless hardware that supports open source firmware.

However, the fact that Linksys is actively promoting the OpenWrt compatibility is notable. The company has stopped short of saying it will offer official support services to OpenWrt users on the WRT1900ACS, but it’s not often that router manufacturers recognize that the open source community produces firmware that in some cases provides more features and performance than the proprietary firmware they ship by default. For this, Linksys may win some hearts and minds in the open source world.

The move is also significant because it comes on the heels of the announcement of new FCC rules that could imperil the use of third-party open source firmware on wireless routers in the United States. Linksys’s enthusiasm for OpenWrt installations on WRT1900ACS suggests that it is not about to curtail users’ ability to install open source code on their routers.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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