OpenWRT Router for new user with reliable and long support

Hi all,

I am looking for a Router to use with OpenWRT. I have only little knowledge about router hardware (have always used the one provided by my ISP), but have no problem with solving technical problems, programming and managing servers at home.

Hard requirements:

  • Well supported OpenWRT with reliable security updates for at least the next 4 years
  • Below 250€ (including modem), ideally lower
  • 2,5 and 5 GHZ Wifi for 60 m²
  • Speed at least 100Mbit/s down, 50MBit/s up
  • VLAN
  • available to buy in Germany

Good to have:

  • Speed 200Mbit/s down, 50MBit/s up
  • ideally including modem for German DSL, but am open for suggestions with a separate modem. My ISP does not provide separate modems, only router including modem with additional cost, so I need to take care of both.
  • Enough performance for running additional functionality (e.g. DNS server)
  • Low energy consumption (electricity prices are high here)
  • Working telephony, USB and printer support

Thank you in advance!

This combination ends you with an empty list.

chan_lantiq works for (many, but not AVM's) older lantiq vr9 devices, if you want to master the dark art of asterisk wizardry - but vr9 tops out around 100/40 MBit/s (profile 17b).

A requirement for USB ports roughly halves your options, many contemporary routers have dropped USB ports (partially because USB3 is causing interference for 2.4 GHz WLAN).

DNS is easy, IDS can easily choke fairly high-end x86_64, it simply will not be possible on more traditional routers.

Thx @slh . I edited my post to distinguish hard requirements and good to have, to have higher chances of matching hardware.

You just described top end fritzbox thinking you have a choice....

For this list of requirements a combination of modem / telephone box + OpenWrt WiFi router seems the way to go.

For the first, I would suggest getting a (used? cheap?) still supported Fritzbox from the 75xx line and keep AVM software on it.
Check Kleinanzeigen in your area for something like 7520 (aka 1&1 Home Server) / 7530.

For the second, you could get a GL-MT6000.
It's easy to install OpenWrt on, is well supported (from v23.05.3), and has enough headroom for running additional services.

This combo is not exactly a low energy setup.

It is technically possible to run OpenWrt directly on a 7520/7530, but you would have to find one, where the DSL modem works with OpenWrt.
There is no way of knowing before you try at the moment.
There is a patch for the problem, but you would need to build an image yourself.
Also the analogue phone socket will not work, so telephony is limited to VoIP and not at all trivial to set up, from what I read. Haven't tried it myself.

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Why is it fritzbox thinking? I thought these were somewhat normal router requirements these days?

Does the security of this device still matter in combination with a OpenWRT-Router behind? Asking because the cheap/older ones might not get updates anymore in the near future and want to avoid buying a new device with modem functionality in one or two years.

Aren't there devices which just do the modem functionality instead of an old Fritzbox, which could also be better for energy consumption?

On the manufacturer's page it states <20W for the GL-MT6000. One user on Amazon measured 7.5W on average, which sounds acceptable. The question is how much the additional modem/Fritzbox will consume.

Not an option, I guess, with the problems you mentioned.

I think there was a comma missing?
You´ve basically described the feature set of a top end fritzbox,
thinking, you have a choice.
(where is none, AVM is kind of unique in this regard)

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It's a good question, which only you can answer.
If you limit it to just DSL/phone maybe it doesn't matter much.

There are actually.
But those are mostly specialized Supervectoring/G.fast modems, which are not cheap and pretty sure don't save much energy - google it.

A 7520 should be around 4-5 W - google it, there are plenty of reviews available.

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I basically know nothing about DSL/phone security. So I really don't know what an attacker could do, with the out-of-date Fritzbox in front of an OpenWRT router.

Not bad.

I have a few questions regarding using a Fritzbox + OpenWRT Router:

  • Would the Fritzbox then operate in bridge mode?
  • Can all Fritzboxes be configured this way or is there something to consider?
  • So you would basically connect the OpenWRT router WAN to one of the Fritzbox's LAN connectors?
  • Would phone functionality of the Fritzbox still work in this mode?

Yes.

Here is some reading material:

If you go with PPPoE passthrough, it depends on your DSL provider.
The Fritzbox would need it's own connection to provide the phone service.
If only one connection is possible, you loose the phone functionality.

The other option would be to have them as cascaded routers.

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Read a bit more into it. Sounds awesome. But I am a bit hesitant, because it seems like this would essentially require a three device setup:

  • Some cheap modem (probably EOL Fritzbox)
  • GL-MT6000 with OpenWRT as Router
  • VOIP Gateway to connect fax and phone via phone cable (e.g. another used Fritzbox)

Calculating with 2x5,5W for two FritzBox's 7520/7530 (one as modem, one as VOIP gateway) and 7,5W for the GL-MT6000. This would mean an extra electricity cost of about 40€/year over using a single device for everything, plus 200€ one time for buying it.

Which makes me think if a single device solution wouldn't be better as a start into OpenWRT and possibly upgrade to a three-device setup if I realize it is worth the extra cost and effort.

Fritzbox 7520 is available for about 55€ used, which seems quite good. If I could get VOIP to work and have luck with the modem, this sounds like a good way to get started with OpenWRT with little cost.

Where can I read more about getting VOIP to work on this device? Afaik the German Telekom offers VOIP, but I need the phone cable connector of the Fritzbox to fully work to connect a telephone and a fax device.

Also make sure to buy the original version:
https://boxmatrix.info/wiki/FRITZ!Box_7520
and not the "Typ B"/v2
https://boxmatrix.info/wiki/FRITZ!Box_7520_v2
This one looks like a 7530 and has a completely unsupported DSL modem.

https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/services/voip/start

This is why I suggested keeping the AVM software on the Fritzbox.
The analogue connector won't work with OpenWrt.

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Good advice. Thx!

Are you sure that the analogue connector does not work, because I didnt't see it mentioned on https://openwrt.org/toh/avm/avm_fritz_box_7530

But how do I use the VOIP functionality of the 7520 with OpenWRT without a analogue connector and without DECT?

I don't know what to do with this. What do these mean:

The OpenWRT website is really difficult to understand, navigate and find information as someone who is not deeply into this topic.

Did some digging, and now I'm not so sure anymore :slight_smile:

Check this post and the following:

So if using OpenWrt directly on the Fritzbox, you have to replace that SIP/VoIP server part.
This would be Asterisk.
https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/services/voip/asterisk

So, I operate a 7520 under OpenWrt as VDSL2 bridged modem and it draws 6 Wh/h, see here:

Ideally yes, but FritzOS does not really allow that anymore... so either PPPoE passthrough with no PPPOE credentials configured in the fritzbox, or some homebrew solution to enable bridge mode somehow.

No, only if the Fritzbox handles PPPoE, but then you likely will have double NAT.

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But I could use a Fritzbox in PPPoE passthrough mode, then a OpenWRT router like the mentioned GL-MT6000 (without VOIP functionality but as the PPPoE endpoint), then a Fritzbox or other device inside the LAN connected via ethernet to the OpenWRT router which handles VOIP and lets fax and telephone have physical connection? So basically have a device handle VOIP after the router/PPPoE-endpoint.

Yes that should work. I operate an old gigaset ip610c VoIP base station in my network (which draws 1 Wh/h). That is a dect-only base station (my scanner-printer-all-in-one could be used as a fax, but I have only felt the need to fax anything once in the last decade), but a FB will offer all its capabilities including analog devices. Mind you not all ISP networks work all that well with fax over VoIP IIRC.

P.S.: I bought that base station a decade ago exactly because I did not want my choice of router to depend on telephony capability, to move away from overly restricted devices (AVM is better than the provider router, but neither offers the wealth of options that OpenWrt offers).

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A suggestion - separate out the modem, router and wifi into separate products.

Modem - use your ISP provided one
Router - buy a nanopi r2S Plus (has two usb). R2S Plus costs [€60 (1GB)].
Wifi - buy a POE AP that can be mounted to give good coverage somewhere. I recommended a Ubiquiti U6-PLUS (about €110) if you want 6E (no one needs 6E for home use, no one).

The main reason i recommend this is that it allows upgrade in the future of the separate parts. I've found that the hassle of putting the wifi AP in the right place (high up, preferably mounted on the ceiling) and the resultant good strong connection is well worth it.

A nanopi router can use Ubuntu if you want but I find Openwrt has everything I need. I love my new Plus.

My other thought is why don't you just buy a second hand AP that is good at wifi5. It'll be really cheap right now and you could buy two for the price of one wifi 6E....I did this and my wifi coverage is awesome. I get around 150-240 Mbps everywhere. You may need more but I doubt it.

Re power you are very right to focus on this as its the most expensive thing. Nanopi r2S is around 4-10W.

No idea how to do telephony with this setup, sorry.

Requirements check:
Hard requirements:

Y Well supported OpenWRT with reliable security updates for at least the next 4 years
Y Below 250€ (including modem), ideally lower
Y 2,5 and 5 GHZ Wifi for 60 m²
I think so Speed at least 100Mbit/s down, 50MBit/s up
Y VLAN
Y available to buy in Germany

Good to have:

Y Speed 200Mbit/s down, 50MBit/s up
N ideally including modem for German DSL, but am open for suggestions with a separate modem. My ISP does not provide separate modems, only router including modem with additional cost, so I need to take care of both.
Y Enough performance for running additional functionality (e.g. DNS server)
Y Low energy consumption (electricity prices are high here)
Part Working telephony, USB and printer support