Can you explain what you use openwrt for/what devices/setup and such?

In my time using linux I have come across the name before but was not relevant to me so did not seek further.

I don't really understand what you use it for. Well I understand that, in that afaik it is just the os to control IOT type devices. What i don't really undertand is what are common uses for the devices you run openwrt on.

What tasks do the devices you use openwrt on fulfill?

Primary use is as a router/firewall and/or access point.

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Primary use is as a general purpose OS ie. instead of MS Windows or MAC OS.

Anything and everything that MS Windows or MAC OS can do.

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It is a postmarket firmware for home routers otherwise eol-ed by vendors. Consistent set of selectable features across price spectrum often makes pricey range features into low to mid range devices.

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Since it is based on linux why is it preferred over a modular distro like arch or one of the lighweight ones like puppy?

If you don't see a reason to use OpenWrt, then don't - no one forces you.

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I'd love to see you squeeze one of those onto a 16mb flash chip.

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Huh? I am curious. I was not criticizing so don't see why you are being passive aggressive.

He is like that.

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At one point in history, OpenWrt was known as LEDE - Linux Embedded Development Environment. This should give you a feel for what the intended target devices were (and still are, for the most part).

As such, it is "missing" a lot of stuff that you'd find on a Linux server or workstation distro: no DE/WM and hence no graphical apps like file managers, browsers and such; very few of the "usual suspects" are installed by default (no compilers, only one editor - a minimal version of vi, no git, a package manager opkg that leaves a lot to be desired and ...).

But, like @frollic said above, vanilla OpenWrt fits easily in 16 MB of persistent storage, runs fine on 64 MB of RAM. I know of no other distro that comes close, even Alpine which is regarded as "super slim" still needs 130 MB of storage and 128 MB RAM.

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I don’t do it much anymore but years ago I would install OpenWrt with Cups, Avahi, and saned and turn USB only printers into wireless enterpriseish network printers. Who remembers WiaSane?

When LEDE split from the OG OpenWrt, I've contributed to a page Why LEDE?, it has since changed, but do have a look at the wiki, there are some reasons there.

Here's what I see as advantages for OpenWrt over flashing compact Linux for the purposes of router/AP.

  1. Wide support for even old-ish commercial routers/APs and many different target platforms. Most Linux distros support 1-2 platforms.
  2. Easy to use single file to flash. Most Linux distros require at least installation procedure if not complete build for your target.
  3. By default comes ready to use OOB. Most Linux distros require additional configuration/hardening to be used as a router.
  4. By default comes with necessary wireless drivers for your target platform (well, besides maybe x86).
  5. By default comes with a nice WebUI which helps you configure pretty much everything from WebUI. Most Linux distros in the minimal/server config do not.
  6. Great selection of the packages developed/tailored specifically for use on a router. Most Linux packages are for desktops/servers.
  7. Most packages have optional WebUI companions apps which integrate nicely into default WebUI. Linux "helper" WebUIs designed to support a very limited set of features.
  8. Last but not least, great community of networking/IT/hardware experts who usually lend a helping hand if you run into troubles.
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