Does openwrt run on old 386 486 586?

does openwrt run on old 386 486 586?


you could find downloads here
it is legacy target
personally i tested this on 586 proc, IDK what will happen on 4/386


how to deal with grub and kernel.bin?

by installing the combined image, or by providing more details about the issue.


here is explanation of images and basic install guide

the installation consists of writing a raw disk image on the drive

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Do you still have some 386/486 computer? :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Well, the original 80i386sx/ 80i386dx hasn't been supported by upstream linux for quite a while already - and i486 is 'at risk' as well.

But now let's take a look what's reasonable.
ath79 can do around 120-200 MBit/s throughput, mt7621 probably around 300 MBit/s (full 1 GBit/s wirespeed with hardware flow-offloading; I'm just guesstimating the unoffloaded throughput).
ipq40xx around 300 MBit/s, ipq806x around 500-650 MBit/s max.
ipq8072a+ can do a tad over 1 GBit/s (ipq8071a around 700 MBit/s).
mt7622/ filogic 820/ 830 can do full 1 GBit/s wirespeed and probably a tad beyond of that.

The AMD jaguar cores (apu2+) can just barely do 1 GBit/s.
Atom j1900 can do the full 1 GBit/s at wirespeed, Atom N270 achieve around 650 MBit/s and Atom 330 around 800-850 MBit/s.

Taking the above as rough base line, which older x86 systems would you want to keep running 24/7?
The plastic routers above will have a power consumption between 5-20 watts.
Atom N270/ 330 somewhere between 22-35 watts.
Well selected haswell+ systems might get away with ~11 watts idle.
N95/ N100 probably between 5-10 watts.

Well selected sandy-bridge is somewhere in the vicinity of 75 watts +/-, ivy-bridge might get down to just over 30 watts (with notebook components (c1037u) around 15-20 watts).
Core2 in the 90-115 watts range.
Pentium 4/ AMD64 (s939) in the 130-140 watts idle range.
For the older platforms you'd have to do your own measurements, but ~90+ watts sounds reasonable for i586/ i686.

Now make your own calculations where the break-even is, based on the (idle-) power consumption alone, especially considering that ath79/ mt7621 and ipq40xx (which will be much faster than anything i386/ i486 and even i585 based) can be found really cheap on the second hand market.


I got a 486dx4-100 /64M memory, hope to try to run linux on it.
and two super7 586 / 256M memory,try the updated kernel.

today, us$20 you can get a router to run openwrt, and us$100 you can get a New mini PC or used Notebook(64bit).

The more expansive cost is your life, forget the very old PCs.

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i could understood you
it is real fun to have something 20 years old running some modern stuff
new life for old HW
it is OK for fun & hobby

but ...
if you get the power meter (W/h) you will be in trouble
these old HW draw too much power
so, yes, you are a good guy, try to reuse old HW, try to learn something new ... etc
but at the end of the day, it is useless
too much electricity power for very low CPU performance :frowning:


You guys are looking at it from the wrong angle (imho)...

  1. HW might be expensive, even unobtainable, where OP is
  2. Electricity might not cost a fortune (if at all)

The oldest I have kept should be a pentium III 450 in order to run DOS games on a real computer. I still have various 8bits computers from the 80s golden age era.
As for your case, I wonder how you are going to install. Thre are no USB on these devices, maybe you can try by booting from CD. As for NIC support, you must find 100Mbits PCI NIC cards.

EDIT : there are 1Gbit PCI NIC based (realtek 8139 for example)

Except that you won't really reach 1 GBit/s wirespeed with a PII-450 and a PCI card, maybe around 700 MBit/s (plain usage, as mentioned before, routing will be significantly slower).

OpenWrt doesn't make a great interactive operating system, the quest for keeping stuff small just tops every piece of convenience you come to expect from a 'normal' general purpose linux distribution (even a two decade old version). If you want a proof-of-concept, check, you got it - but actually using it… what for?! An OS is not a self-serving-and fullfilling purpose, unless you can use it to run the stuff you actually need to get $STUFF done (maybe part from running a text editor, maybe irssi - but there 80*25 character screen resolution are already hurting).

…and as mentioned above, running it non-interactively for prolonged periods of time barely makes sense.

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Yes of course. The P III mention is just for vintage hobbying purpose.
I won't even consider using such device as a router, better use a classical router instead (smaller, cheaper ...).

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I have a dual Pentium 3 1200MHz with 3 gog od ram, two 100 and two 1000MBps porta by Intel, it run fine as a router , with irqballance it canndo more than 500Mbits nat . It worked for me rock solid for coupe od months, just for fun.

Yes. Download a legacy or generic image, whichever is appropriate for your hardware, and go to town.

Personally, the oldest thing I've run OpenWrt on was a Celeron M (32-bit, single-core, 600 MHz, release date Q2 2003). As old as that was, it was still able to run the generic firmware. The legacy firmware runs on even older things...

Yes, and no.

I agree with your points about HW and electricty cost assumptions made in this thread and how that is not a given or a consistent thing across the world.

The broader point, though, is that running such old and power-hungry hardware needs to be considered with the "TCO" (total cost of ownership) and, ideally, also the environmental impact (which may be near zero if the user's power source is from renewables, or may be large if from coal fired power plants).

Let's consider some power costs, though.

If we assume expensive power costs like in Italy ($0.56 USD per KWh), a PC drawing 300W would cost ~$4/day to run vs a 10W standard all-in-one wifi router which would be ~$0.13/day. Put the fixed costs + operating costs on a chart, and you'll see that the crossover would happen in only a few days.

The calculus changes if we're tlaking about Nigeria at $0.03 USD/KWh, but you'd probably reach the crossover point in about 3 months (assuming a used router could be purchased for the same say $20USD equivalent in Italy vs Nigeria).

All that to say... maybe we (as a collective community) should actually ask the user where they are in the world and what constraints they may have when considering the HW availability and costs vs electricity prices.


Or just switch routers between summer and winter :wink:

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