Get hardware warranty on device w/ LEDE f/w

Technically speaking, the reason vendors of x86 hardware is treated differently is because there the OS isn't running bare, but many of the "dangerous" things are done by a proprietary firmware (BIOS or UEFI) which should not allow your OS to damage the hardware. (theoretically anyway)

So if your motherboard fails the manufacturer does not care what you've been running on it. Because whatever was running on it was still using UEFI or BIOS to control dangerous hardware settings.

On an embedded device there is no such thing, the Linux kernel runs bare with no board firmware interfering, if it screws up initialization or something it can damage the hardware.

That said, even in x86 land only company-grade OEMs like Dell, HP, or SuperMicro actually care about officially supporting Linux (i.e. caring if you have Linux-only issues).
Consumer-grade OEMs (ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and so on) usually support only Windows.


Really, I doubt most vendors even care about looking into why the board isn't booting anymore. Most service manuals I've seen only tell to do basic troubleshooting, and then if that fails it instructs to "change the motherboard". And this for laptops and PCs that cost 500-1000$. Who is going to care about a device that costs less than 100$? The time spent by the technician on it will cost more than just shipping a new device to you.

Also, in a commercial setting the cost of replacing the rare hardware failures (seriously, how many power units fail, and how many switch bridges fail? If you actually care about their numbers it's a sign you are using crappy hardware to begin with) is negligible.

I mean, you don't field gold-plated toys with 9 antennas and RGB leds costing 400$, but more normal units costing like 50-100$ tops, and in pretty much any case you're so much better off just not calling any vendor and replace the device with another one you pull from your stockpile.


However, the bigger issue is defrauding the vendor. If you broke it, don't expect the vendor to pay for it.

They are talking about Android devices, but the same applies to any embedded device.

Note that I'm talking of what the law dictates, it does not mean that all sellers will immediately obey to this, some sumbag ones just don't and you'd have to sue them to get them to comply.

We are not discussing morals, but the actual chances the vendor would care about that. With embedded devices the cost of a new device is so low (it costs them much less of the price you paid them to buy the device) that getting a technician to do forensics is not worth it.

If you send them stuff in RMA they can either send back something new and pay a relatively low cost, OR pay a technician more than a new device is worth to decide who is the fault.

Really if the device was worth less than 100$ new it's not even remotely worth it to care.

Then ok, there are many scumbag sellers that just just don't accept RMAs unless you sue them, but that's an issue for consumers buying 1 device, not for company buying a ton of devices.

It's not just a moral issue (although honesty is a good trait to have personally, and in business).

Vendors will pass on the costs of fraudulent returns in the form of higher prices to their consumers.

1 Like

Technically speaking, they do already. The final price of the product (any product really) has the estimated cost of RMAs and other assorted estimated future costs already calculated in its release price.

I'd like to point out that the situation here was not about someone trying to make a fraudolent RMA, but someone that flashed OpenWrt, then the device fails because of some normal issue that would be covered by warranty, and then the vendor refuses the RMA because it was using a custom firmware.

As I said it is 100% possible to damage the hardware by using a custom firmware so the vendor can't support a custom firmware, period.
But with OpenWrt you cannot do that casually as a user.
You really need to go looking for trouble, by overclocking, changing voltages and other hardware options in the board dtb files in the source code, and hacking around with the drivers, which are things that don't happen in normal operation of OpenWrt.

Think a good summary of this discussion is that for low-cost routers, you may or may not care about hardware warranty. If you are a businesses, you would care and retail branded OEMs are not going to cover it, even under their open source intended versions.
However, if you go with a white box vendor and order large quantities, they will do this.
The whole argument then concludes that it's just a matter of pricing for vendors to accept that risk.
Now, the question is, are there any other creative ways around this?
Is there any third party willing to underwrite an insurance on the hardware or provide after-market warranty?
Or, is the only solution a white box vendor, possibly losing a bit on economies of scale and paying a slight premium on the warranty?

If you're a reseller, and if you're buying in quantities of tens of thousands, then yes, you're a reseller, then the issue is more this: it will be cheaper for you to specify in your contract a maximum rate of failures, and to "self-insure" against that rate than to really do anything else. Only if the white box supplier is sending you batches with more than X failure rate (negotiated in your contract) do you even talk with them.

So, let's say 3% failure rate in the first year is your acceptable level. You buy 10k units, you just accept that 300 of them will fail, you charge 3% more on your reselling, and if more than 300 units come back to you broken, you go to your supplier and request them to look into failures and give you a discount on your next order...

According to this, he's not selling anything, so...

1 Like


We're all resellers in this life as we're part of some value chain. But no, I'm not trying to sell anything to this forum or abuse the community. The contrary, trying to add value.
@jwoods, your curiosity will keep bothering you I'm afraid til you find some other productive way of engaging with users or till a moderator puts a stop to it :slight_smile:
@diakelan, I get that contracts with white-box vendors can have h/w warranties. However, you don't get a device with huge economies of scale, tested and reviewed by thousands of people. There's that tradeoff. Typically ISPs buy from primary APAC-based OEM vendors that can optionally supply the firmware as well. I just haven't seen an approach where the underlying massively produced hardware is optimized for LEDE or OpenWRT. And even when it is, such as in the case of branded router versions, the vendor does not provide warranty on the underlying hardware on an individual or bulk scale case.

It all comes down to how massive is your order. If you want 10M units you can get someone who will design you something and test that something against your choice of firmware and redesign it a few times to optimize it, or help you write drivers for the special chips or whatever. If you want 10k units you have to go with something someone already designed.

You're probably best off to find some company on alibaba that already has an "openwrt" router designed, then get about 20 of them and hire someone to fine-tune the kernel modules etc to get you the reliability and speed and features you want. Then please contribute your modifications to upstream LEDE/OpenWRT or Kernel developers so that you can benefit from continued refinement. Then place your order for 10k units and do whatever you want with them.


Doesn't bother me, but it appears it bothers you.

If you have an issue with my posts, report it to a moderator.

1 Like

It mostly depends on the Countries consumer laws. In Australia we have very strong consumer rights. A company can say they won't support the hardware if you install 3rd-party software on it, but the law states they have to. Lots of companies in Australia publish that they won't do certain things in the hopes people won't follow through.

That's a great idea! Thanks!

1 Like

Long story short:

  1. If you go to the branded OEMs and negotiate, they can give you enough spares to cover the risk. Basically you insure it in a lower price that allows you to get more spare units.
  2. If you go to a white box vendor, the warranty essentially is written in the contract, i.e. acceptable number of units that can fail within 1 year or so.
    So, in essence it's a non issue. If you're an individual, the retail won't care and will replace it without checking too much and if you're making larger orders of h/w and flashing it, you can either bake it into the price or the contract depending on where the supplying entity has the corporate flexibility.

If you purchase devices designed for bring-your-own software, they are supported. But even companies like MicroTik won't support issues caused by manipulating the flash (e.g. installing your own custom firmware).

Granted, the kind of devices usually aren't consumer-grade, either.

Following up on the Alibaba idea, I've been unimpressed by the devices that are being offered there. Very poor design, sometimes even 6 antennas that make the device look awful.

There are companies selling openwrt-supported devices.

But i cant recommend any non-ath9k based wifi device. The linked have some WLAN-AC chipset.
At the moment all WLAN-AC devices require closed-source firmware to run. ath9k based devices dont require closed-source software to run the wifi.