Donation for Developers: Easybox 904xdsl - Lantiq XRX200, 512MB ROM, 128MB RAM, Color LCD Screen

A special offer for OpenWrt developers in europe: Free Lantiq XRX200 Router with huge 512MB ROM, 128MB RAM, VDSL Vectoring, and much more: https://openwrt.org/toh/astoria/arcadyan_astoria_easybox_904xdsl_r01

This is a special device where some developers have spend much time in the last years to get it working with OpenWrt. It have a working LCD-Screen in OpenWrt. Also a special OpenWrt boot animation for the bootloader exist.

What you would get: A free device send to your address to finally get this great OpenWrt router mainlined. The device would be already preinstalled with a prebuild OpenWrt image.
Current state: Wifi is kind of working, everything else is working fine. You can configute if you want two lantiq CPU cores active and no phone line working or one core for phone and one core for normal system. With the 512MB ROM you can install asterisk and many other things and with the LCD color screen you can display what you like. The 128MB RAM make all of this possible. USB for external hard disk (NAS, rtorrent, ... )is also there.

What i hope to reach with spending time to buy, install all the devices and then send them for free to developers:
This device get finally merged upstream. In OpenWrt 22.03-rc4 the latest Lantiq VDSL vectoring patches got backported for OpenWrt stable releases. The easybox 904xdsl have way too good hardware to not be supported by OpenWrt. The wifi is not the main issue, its the missing upstream support. Even without wifi mainline OpenWrt would be a huge benefit.

I am contacting the known OpenWrt lantiq developers with following email address: openwrt-donations-904xdsl@proton.me
Also other already active (some device ported, ...) OpenWrt developers could send me a mail if i have not already send them a mail.

Famous threads that affect the device:

1 Like

I wrote this announcement also to the dev-mailing list here:
https://lists.openwrt.org/pipermail/openwrt-devel/2022-June/038919.html

The amount of donations so far: 0

I open the donations up for more regular, advanced OpenWrt users to make the community of people that want to run this hardware bigger. This should also benefit in some way the OpenWrt development for this device.

Thanks, but not really my cup of tea. I would not really be able help in getting this upstreamed in any meaningful manner, maybe user janh might be a better recipient?

The custom BBT marker are still the biggest issue for merging device support (without having to create a new subtarget for this single device), everything else would be solvable with lots of work and persistence (yes, that might imply a long way to add display support packages and even worse prospects for RaLink iNIC wireless support, but neither of those would need to work on day one).

@janh was one of the people i have send a separate E-Mail to the dev-E-Mail address i could find here: https://git.openwrt.org/?p=openwrt/openwrt.git;a=commit;h=f872b966092ece5c0e2192e0d979a9eb69283f17

I offered in the E-Mail to send him such a Router.
Maybe its been overseen or wrongly marked as spam. There was no response since then.

It could also be that the price or availability of the device is simply not a factor. On German classifieds sites they have been given away for free for years, and still are. Last year, in an effort to cut down on side projects, I myself gave away two.

Maybe devs just ... don't want to invest the real currency we are all low on: time?

1 Like

I'm mostly interested in working on things that I'm actually going to use myself. And for me the distinctive feature of Lantiq devices is the modem, but it doesn't look like this particular device offers anything special in that area.

@takimata
Thanks for showing me that you was successful in giving away two of them. Lets see if i am also successful with my giveaway to get more people interested in this device

@janh
I for myself find those devices interesting because of the screen and the huge 512MB ROM. This is something you cant find otherwise. Those devices with such a combination are great Server in the basement next to the DSL line. From there on you then go with CAT7-cables in the whole house. The easybox is then managing everything. From torrent-server with a usb-drive to any smart home functionality. You can manage everything with it and have a status screen that turns on when you push one of the touch-buttons.
Its also helpful when connected on the DSL-line of older people that find it too complex to open a webbrowser to check the status. They can press the touch-button and can tell on the phone what is been listed on there in case of any issue.

Sure, they didn't go to a developer though. And it took three weeks for someone to take them, I was just about to hand them to electronics recycling. What you read as "yay, people are interested!" I would call "you have to literally give them away for anyone to take them."

Look, I get it, it's an "interesting" device. I had two of them myself at one time, so evidently I thought them to be interesting too. I even reverse engineered the boot logo format, ffs. Beyond the initial curiosity though, in 2022, it's a rather old and slow device that, even with complete support and heaps of flash memory, will not be able to do a lot beyond being a very basic wifi router with a modem. I eventually decided to put a price tag on my time and went for something with better support, less hassle, and more power.

And as for the screen, well, I'm working on something.

1 Like

@slh what exact does you mean ?
The device works together with other NAND devices so i have test with the Speedport W921v

I would also like it to continue
This device is a good counterpart to the O2-Box 6431 which have less hardware equipment.
The most importand reason is that is the only good working ATA solution in future, because the xway devices are too old and
the O2-Box 6431 which was long time a excellent devices with 16MB Flash and 64MB RAM is hard at the resouces border.

I use this device as all inclusiv telephon-modem-router, but i will not recomended now, because the device is too old.
But as ATA will this device become indispensable in the future.

My main problems are i have only sporadic time and not enough know how to switch to DSA.
The problem for making a acceptable PR is that the device need a lot of kernel patches
These code came most from the old source with more or less reason "It must be here because that needed for some hardware for this device", no exact description what they do and is not 100% clear what efect to other devices.
The Openwrtdevelper have no interrest to maintain these patches. For this reason these patches must be inside the kernel.
An other reason is that i fear that there is no interrest on xrx200 devices.

It is very frustrating these device full working since ca 2017, to this time it could have been a burner,
But now it have a permission to be present only as ATA.
Naja in addition it is very cheap, and Arcardyan have pins for there serial connections so that device is unbrickable without soldering, and for this reason an got experimantal device.

This specifically, which changes the BBT marker from {'B', 'b', 't', '0' }/ {'1', 't', 'b', 'B' } to {'A', 'R', 'C', 'A' }/ {'a', 'c', 'r', 'a' }. As this is a build time switch and a (sub-)target wide change (and the kernel needs to know about it from the first second), you can either break the eb904xdsl or all other NAND based devices in the xrx200 subtarget. The only half-clean approach to deal with this, would be putting the eb904xdsl into its own subtarget, with selective configuration/ patches, but that's quite a big hammer (very resource intensive for the buildbots and mirror network, therefore frowned upon). The only real way to cope with this, would be approaching the (mainline kernel-) mtd subsystem maintainers to come up with a solution for this, but they might rightfully send you home (the BBT changes don't improve anything, Arcadyan just did it to be special, incompatible, to make support difficult). Another potential approach would be changing the BBT markers on the NAND (new bootloader, nuking all the flash in the process, making reverting back to stock pretty much impossible - although one might rightfully claim that this might not be much of a concern anymore), so it behaves more like any other NAND based system (using the same, common, BBT markers), but this is a rather dangerous process (which loses information about bad blocks) and isn't really a good idea (but it would make OpenWrt support considerably easier).

Don't get me wrong, the device is really interesting and special (even though I haven't touched or powered up mine in quite a while), but part of what makes it so special and interesting, is exactly what makes it so difficult to get it supported properly, in-tree.

If you forget about display support for a moment (which is optional to get device support merged, and just a huge amount of work):

  • big issue, NAND BBT implementation as described above, this is the only real killer without an mainline blessed solution
  • the swconfig RTL8367B driver needs some changes, this is a reasonable amount of patches, but at this point (especially with the lantiq switch already having moved to DSA, so the eb904xdsl would need to as well, in order to be merged) it would make more sense trying to get mainline's realtek_smi DSA driver working for this device
  • the RaLink iNIC wireless setup is a nightmare, technically there would be ways out of this, but that would be really difficult (resurrecting a rt3883 target, to build an OpenWrt/ linux initramfs image for the companion wireless SOC, just like it is done for the ath79 wireless companion SOCs on the fb3490/7490, but on-device RAM is very, very limited).

…and yes, it could be a great ATA - one of my major plans for it as well.

Disclaimer: I no longer have VDSL access.

The BBT problem that you descripe was solved in 2020

(I hope so) I test against Telekom Speedport W921v which have NAND Flash.
But the W921v is not in Openwrt, I add them extra

DSA + realtek_smi is the biggest problem but possible that this work out of the box (with very much luck), so i think nobody have test it.

I would exclude the WLAN driver and make a basic support only.
When it is possible to build a working WLAN Driver and other driver with SDK later, it will be very helpfull.

1 Like

Even better, although that patch might be quite hard to get past the mainline mtd developers…
(OpenWrt really wants mtd patches to be mainline).

I am glad to see that other people have interest in this device as well.

In my opinion the huge rom, fair ram, double USB and of course the display along with up to 5x Gigabit are unique selling features to have, at this budget. I opened the case and installed some external antennas via SMA cables to extend the wifi coverage.
The box is also running some servers for me, including a chatbot, weatherbot.... and other bots. I also use the display to display various diagnostics related to all kinds of devices in the network.

Besides, I started programming a menu structure for the display, but I am still in conceptual phase as I also kind of lack time. But first test were successful.

Therefore, I am willing to support any programming effort needed for further development of this device. I have zero OpenWRT dev experience, but nevertheless I can program / script and just need the initial guidance to get along. Please contact me if somebody want a helping hand from me in this regard.

I am not using it to establish an internet connection (though I could), but it is for sure that I will not replace this device as secondary AP in the next 10 years. So, count me in for development.

1 Like