Elementary questions on installing and using OpenWrt


I just flashed my router with OpenWrt, mostly because the stock firmware on TP-Link Archer C2600 was giving me issues connecting a USB HDD and allowing me to access it from my Windows 10 computer.

In terms of technological understanding, I am probably just slightly above the average user, barely following along with the installation and configuration guides that I find.

In installing and using OpenWrt, I only currently have two objectives:

  1. Use Adblock.
  2. Use USB storage that can be accessed from Windows 10 computer.

1. Adblock

I successfully installed OpenWrt, and then started out by following the guide Ad blocking.

I was able to successfully install Adblock and enable it, and pick the adblock lists.

I found that Adblock seems to work inconsistently (enabling it seems to cause it to block some websites at one point, but then the next day I can connect to the same site), and seems to cause sporadic DNS issue, where all devices connected to my network can't access the web, although other network activities (e.g. remote desktop access to work from my network) seems to continue to work.

General pointers on what I may be doing wrong or how I can fix things would be appreciated.

2. USB Storage

I followed the guides USB Basic Support and USB Storage and somehow managed to attach my USB HDD to the router and mount it (although to be frank I don't know how I managed to deal with all the errors that happened on the way).

It appears that in order to allow Windows 10 to access the HDD that is attached and mounted to the router, I need Samba.

I was trying to follow the guide Samba but soon noticed that I don't have enough flash memory space to install the package samba4-server, in particular one of its dependencies, samba4-libs, which is 7.5MB. I have 5.5MB of space left on the router, according to the Software page of LuCI. Looking at the hardware info of my router, TP-Link Archer C2600, it apparently comes with 32MB flash memory.

So then I was trying to follow the Wiki article No space left on device but this is where I am getting a bit stuck. It seems that I have potentially three ways of trying to deal with this:

a. Delete some packages - well, I only began learning about OpenWrt yesterday, so I don't know what I can safely delete and what I can't. Just to note, all I have done so far after flashing my router with OpenWrt are all described above, and all additional packages that I installed myself are those relating to Adblock and USB.

b. "You can press-fit an OpenWrt image into this small flash by building your own image, with only the packages you need, tailored for your usecase." - Again, I haven't fully gone through the associated guide on this method, but I am not sure how to determine what are the only packages that I need, and whether doing this will free up enough space for me to install Samba.

c. Extroot - If I understand correctly, this is basically expanding the router's flash memory by connecting an external storage device, like a USB stick. I have a few USB sticks lying around, and my router fortunately has two USB 3.0 ports (which I think allows me to connect a USB stick to expand the router flash memory in one and connect the USB HDD in the other) but I would like to make this my last resort because of the really narrow space where the router is in and how plugging a USB stick will make the physical placement of the router pretty challenging.

So really, my question for the next step is this: Can I feasibly install Samba onto my router without using Extroot? I want to get a sense of people with more experience and knowledge before I even attempt the "building image with only the packages I need" method. Will doing this free up enough space? Is 32MB of internal flash memory considered enough to use OpenWrt with Adblock and Samba?

I may eventually want to play around with OpenWrt as I get more comfortable, and at that point perhaps begrudgingly go the Extroot route, but for now, I will try to stick with getting Adblock and USB Storage sharing right.

Understanding that these types of elementary questions from totally clueless newbies probably get posted here all the time, I would appreciate if someone can bear with me to give me some guidance.

Thank you so much.

Replace samba by cifs, in you want to save space, and enable legacy smb in Win10.

Thank you, will try what you suggest (which of course I don't know what it means now, but I will try to do my own research and do it).

I forgot to say I also want to be able to access the USB HDD from my mobile devices (iPad, iPhone). Will this work for that? If you have to enable legacy smb in Win10, it sounds like it's something that may not work on iPad and iPhone...

When it comes to adblocking, some devices, like those running Android, have DoT and Googles DNSes hard-coded, and will ignore your DNSes.

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