OpenWRT initial install is not user friendly enough

Info: I couldn't publish this forum post in a decent format because there are some restrictions for new forum users when it comes to links and images so I had to put the screenshots in code blocks.

Hi, I'm not very involved in the OpenWRT project but I always love to use it in lab environments. I didn't use it for quite some time, and spun up a few instances for a routing lab today.

I made it a habit to inform projects when I notice patterns that I might be able to work around or can search for answers, but where a newbie would probably stop and search for alternatives at some point. And there are too many of those moments with OpenWRT imo.

I think projects like OpenWRT should be more accessible to more people.

Here is what I noticed:

Finding the right download

Navigating through

is too difficult.

What is this? What are packages?

What is this? Guess I'm looking for targets

I'm lost



Suggestion: Directly link the most downloaded images on the downloads page, with a decription what they are used for.

Extracting the image

Eventually you find the right path and try to extract the image to add it to a VM to test OpenWRT


fails completely, no exported image

Windows 7zip

2 errros, image extracts sucessfully (but the user might not know hat)


gzip -dk openwrt-23.05.3-x86-64-generic-ext4-combined.img.gz
gzip: openwrt-23.05.3-x86-64-generic-ext4-combined.img.gz: trailing garbage ignored

error message, image extracts sucessfully (but the user might not know hat)

Forum approved solution:

Suggestion: Try to find a way to handle image metadata differently and make image downloads broadly compatible

After first launch

You end up with a root partition that has 102.3M left, which is probably not sufficient for future firmware upgrades and custom packages

and you have to read through this post to get it working

Suggestion: Offer an image specificially for VM testing, so that users can test what OpenWRT looks like before installing it on hardware (like qcow2 or ova)

I hope this post doesn't come over as too grumpy or mean, I just think openWRT has a really intuitive Web UI that a lot of people could easily operate, but the time investment to try it out is too high.

That's why it shouldn't be used.

Save some time, boot it off a flash drive.

1 Like

It's just beginning of the process. Recently I was installing OpenWrt on some Huawei, it required using exploit. If navigating through folders is difficult for you then just drop it. Use stock firmware.


Yeah, I completely agree on that one. You need a priori knowledge that the ToH has good descriptions of devices and links to the proper downloads, but the discoverability is not there. Maybe we need links everywhere (downloads, sysupgrade, firmware selector and on and on) that say "Verify your device at"

Ha ha, you do that, and I do that, but it's pretty rare actually. Most people run bare metal on all-in-one devices, they don't set up a VM at all.

Years ago I moved all my OpenWrt development to VMs, and I'm sure you'll agree, this is by far the most robust way to mess around with things. Break it? Who cares? Just restore a checkpoint or simply spin up a new VM...

It would be nice to have a "sandbox" target, pre-built qcow2, vhdx and others, with an easy install script for common VM platforms.

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