CompexWRT is an Operating Systems designed for Compex brand of reliable and powerful embedded boards. It combines OpenWRT with the most advanced and updated Qualcomm Atheros wireless drivers. CompexWRT also includes a user-friendly LuCI web interface for configuring the router. OpenWRT is an extensible GNU/Linux distribution for embedded devices. It is built from the ground up to be a full-featured, easily modifiable operating system. It is powered by a Linux kernel that's more recent than most other distributions. The latest stable version of OpenWRT, 12.09 Attitude Adjustment, is used in CompexWRT. LuCI is a free, clean, extensible and easily maintainable web user interface for embedded devices. It has high performance, small installation size, fast runtimes, and good maintainability.
I don't know that I'd consider 12.09 "The latest stable version" but at least it gives hope that their cards are supported.
I was thinking about a different approach. When browsing Aliexpress, ZBT advertises that it will manufacture custom routers with orders of 500+. Firmware, logos, chipsets (qualcomm, mediatek) can be specified. It may be possible to start a project that would generate income for OpenWrt by providing a well-supported, no-hassel router.
I tried looking for a GPL'd source and only search hits described Comfast's failure to provide code. I looked at the OpenWrt donation page and did not find a list of corporate donors. Me thinks corporate donations are wishful thinking.
It is also telling to look at the posts regarding porting devices that come with OpenWrt/LEDE.
Personally, I trust the technical expertise of the project over any "entrepreneur".
Browse the linux kernel commits, it is littered with redhat, ibm, qualcomm, mediatek, amd, intel and realtek contributors. I'm pretty new to OpenWrt but have already been credited with contributing code and testing. My contributions were based on reviewing lines of existing code. Not once did I see a contribution from an employee of a router manufacturer.
Most GL.Inet routers have been added to OpenWrt by the manufacturer's developers, even if they are not using company emails (especially lately, they started sending patches to the mailing list before the device is released). So it may not be obvious what was contributed by a manufacturer. Although in general the big brands don't really care.
Then again they are also known for their customer support people answering questions about doing electrical mods to their devices (i.e. things that 100% void any warranty) with partial schematics, so I concede that they are pretty unique.
Plus there is Gateworks and NXP developers sending for their own stuff.
I was thinking of using a reputable GoFundMe type service to handle the money/orders.
OpenWrt would pick the best supported chipsets in several categories:
Low cost: mt7628 16/128 2.4/5.0Hz
Midrange: dual core
High end: arm with dual 5Hz radios
All would be upgrade-able via LuCi.
The cost of each device would include a 20% donation to OpenWrt and provide hardware for the developers who sign up to contribute.
OpenWrt would develop and host the firmware.
ZBT would manufacture, to the projects specs, imprint with a logo and flash with a basic OpenWrt firmware. ZBT would be responsible for the hardware warranty, OpenWrt for firmware bugs/vulnerabilities.
Not sure about the distribution; direct from ZBT or regional distributor.
I repeat, someone must devote time to decide what hardware is good or not, deal with manufacturers, ship orders and keep stuff stocked, and afaik none has volunteered to do that. It's something you are underestimating I guess, but it's not something you can just do "whenever you feel like it".
"Making the firmware" is more or less a non-issue as on such a device you know already everything from the start and control the bootloader's configuration, anyone of the basic "contributors"that has added a device in the past can do it.
There is nothing to stock, If the project reaches its goal, ZBT sets and runs the production one time. Late orders would be not be filled unless another production run minimum is met.
Only one prominent manufacturer advertises the capabilities that are needed. Although to keep them honest several bids should be obtained.
There are only 2 SoC manufacturers, that open source, for the lower end device, Mediatek (mt7628 or mt7621). The mt7620 is an older mt7628 that is not as energy efficient. These include a 2R2T 2.4 radio on chip. The 5.0 radio is an addon chip and there are several to choose from. The mt7615 is having some teething problems but older chips with a track record can be used.. The person handling MT76 development could make a recommendation. Qualcomm is the other - I'm not familiar with Qualcomm's offerings to make suggestions.
This is not a project for volunteers.
This is a full on business. You need to acquire warehousing and shipping facilities/services
You need to provide warranty, no you can't offload warranty to a manufacturer when you put your label on the device. You need to employ someone to deal with customers.
It is a great idea, But the way your going about it is wrong.
When you open a case or irreversibly flash OpenWrt, you have voided your warranty anyway. The forum already deals, gratis, with users having problems with devices and actually is a more reliable source of flash dumps than any manufacturer. The available wikis are far more complete than any device manual I've seen. The GPL'd source is already available.
I agree, that It needs to be crystal clear for those that fund, the devices are specifically targeting OpenWrt users. The first thing most users will do is update and customize their packages.
Another hurdle comes to mind though and that is registering the device with the regulatory agencies, ie FCC. The FCC does not review the firmware, just the radiation and strength/specificity of the wireless bands. I have been able to find ZBT submissions to the FCC.