I just want to say first of all that I'm really impressed so far with the OpenWRT platform in general. I've been using DD-WRT with my Netgear R6400v1 for about two years now, and I've grown really tired of the disorganized mess in that whole ecosystem - the docs, the super old school forum, lack of build tools, SVN reliance, and also the general lack of coordination, my trust has dwindled in it all.
Sadly my R6400 is not compatible with OpenWRT so I'd like to get some recommendations as I plan on transitioning (also the closed source binaries make me uneasy). Any recommendations to get started? Another question I have, is there build/code signing in the OpenWRT platform? This is something severely lacking in DD-WRT.
Welcome. It's good to hear you like OpenWrt, but I think the forum here isn't the best place to criticize other projects.
If you are into Netgear, you could probably look into R7800, and then there is the similar EA8500. You could search the form for these two as a starting point, but I guess it all depends on your requirements and usage.
Since those threads are massive, I'll point a few highlights:
R7800 - very popular around here. A lot of development being done, mainly by @Ansuel . Ethernet is questionable. WiFi works pretty well.
WRT3200ACM/WRT32X - also very popular. Marvell the company has done a lot of work that we don't have to do in getting the platform in shape. Ethernet works very well. WiFi is reported to work well. Newer features like WPA3 and 802.11w are not and will never be supported.
edit: I should mention that no WiFi 6 routers are supported yet. It's an open question when and if that will be the case.
Indeed they are massive, thanks for the highlights! I have noticed the R7800 being seemingly very popular here though admittedly it might be overkill for me - also what are the problems with ethernet? I'm also interested in moving away from Netgear and to experiment.
What's your take on the ZyXEL Armor Z2 (NBG6617)? It seems like good value. Though I'm not familiar with this brand. Support is good here on that router?
Thanks for the heads up regarding Wifi 6, this is going to be interesting to follow!
I have set up a ZyXEL NBG6617 for friends myself. Except for the IPQ40xx switch weirdness (VLANs are an issue on IPQ40xx it seems), it runs fine. Maybe DSA will change something about the VLANs, but I'm not up to speed on it. DSA will be introduced to multiple platforms (no idea if all platforms will get it) by switching to kernel 5.4. Some platforms have already switched in master.
Even though Linksys has recently released a newer firmware for their WRT32xx line, the state of the wireless hardware and driver is unsure - like @neheb says there probably won't be any new features added, and the question remains if the wireless code will see any updates from either Linksys or Marvell (the manufacturer of the radios, which sold that business to NXP) at all.
The ZyXEL Armor Z2 would be the NBG6817, an ipq8065 based router that is very similar to the Netgear r7800 (just pick whatever you can get easier/ cheaper). The major advantage of the NBG6817 relative to the r7800 would be the dual-firmware feature, which can be very convenient (but both routers have a very robust push-button tftp recovery mechanism, if everything else fails) - the r7800 offers eSATA in addition. Contrary to ipq40xx, ipq806x target does not have any issues with VLAN tagging - so you can go wild in terms of VLANs on the nbg6817 or the r7800.
The (non-Armor) ZyXEL NBG6617 is ipq40xx (ipq4018) based instead, and everything Borromini mentions applies there (DSA will fix the VLAN issue, as those are driver side and not an inherent hardware limitation). If you can get it, it should be a solid device as well.
ipq806x is a high-end solution, while ipq40xx covers entry-level (ipq4018) to upper mid-end (ipq4019) markets in terms of features and performance.
Thanks all, good information. I've been digging around a bit more now that it's become clearer that the intermittent reboots and slow downs on my R6400v1 running DD-WRT might be hardware failure. I was leaning towards the NBG6817 until I read this thread with someone reporting random reboots. Not feeling confident about it anymore so thinking the R7800 might be the way to go. @neheb What is questionable about the ethernet on the R7800?
Last I used it I noticed higher than normal latency (around 4ms). But that was over a year ago. A lot has happened since then. It's probably not true anymore. It was also slow (~300 Mbps). It's faster now that there's flow offload.
For the sake of clarity as it's not entirely clear in the TOH for the R7800. The procedure is to flash the factory.img file in the stock netgear webui, correct? I don't need to use TFTP the first time right?
EDIT: Answering my own question here after some research it looks like the initial flash is done through TFTP - what are the best/recommended TFTP clients for macOS and linux?
That question is actually a bit under contention at the moment. The expectation would be that you do need to go the tftp route, given that the partitioning between the OEM firmware and current OpenWrt differs - however there have recently been (surprising) claims that flashing from the OEM webinterface worked fine.
If you end up with a boot-looping device, you know that you've to use tftp (so at least be prepared - or use tftp straight away, it isn't that scary).
(the nbg6817 can be flashed directly form the webinterface, using tftp there is optional)
I'm not crazy about Netgear as much anymore. I have almost all Netgear... ehm, gear. I'd personally like to check out any and all open-source hardware. I was in a goodwill-bytes and a vizio branded router caught my eye. (yeah, like the TVs) Turned out it was open-source hardware. could have had it for $10, but was too broke that day. The open-source routers are typically more compatible with open-sourced firmwares. So take a google down that alley before checking out some Linksys models. They're the king. Been at it forever. Cisco basically writes the standard when it comes to networking so Linksys is almost always worth a glance. ASUS has been doing some interesting things on their end like allowing you to USB-Tether their routers to phones with stock firmware. They also have their own alternative firmware called Merlin. It's worth a shot even if you don't get OpenWRT or others running on it. OR you could DIY it with UPboards. or get one of those Ultra-Slim Desktops from a few years ago and get creative. like the HP Elite 8300 Ultra-Slim.I hope others consider these ideas. Just don't bother with Belkin. They are the worst! I'm serious. BELKINSUCKS was my router password for years. Good Luck!
Besides this not quite being on topic in this thread, you do realize that Cisco has sold Linksys to Belkin seven years ago - and that Belkin itself was sold to Foxconn two years ago? There isn't any Cisco left in the company and its products, not that I'd consider that a particular badge of honour, considering frequency and type of the security bulletins.