Question on supporting OpenWrt-based firmware

So I'm wondering what the site policy is on supporting non-official OpenWRT firmware installed by OEMs, or firmware like rOOter, Gargoyle, etc.

There was a thread a couple of days ago involving a Totolink OWRT-based firmware issue, and the poster was badgering for support.

I've seen other threads with replies that state only the "official" firmware is supported here.

There is no real rule about censoring such posts, or moderators closing the discussion, but mostly the reality is that the active populace here does not have any real knowledge about or interest in the proprietary modifications that the various OEMs like Totolink, gl.inet, Qualcomm QSDK etc. have made. Same goes for rooter, gargoyle etc. related tools.

Sadly many OEMs even leave the OpenWrt branding underneath the firmware add-ons/modifications, so many casual OEM users first think that they have the proper OpenWrt and come here.

You can point out to the users that they would get better help from their product's/package's forum / help site. That also helps us to avoid this forum getting converted into generic networking/router help site.

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Couldn't agree more...

I think having a policy that could be referred to would be helpful for...

  1. Getting those users to the right resources.

  2. Keeping threads on "based" firmware issues short and to the point...with less opportunity for becoming a back and forth on whether it's "official" OpenWRT, or not.

And as you mentioned...

  1. Helping us avoid this forum getting converted into generic networking/router help site.

@moderators may have some insight.

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Have you read this page. It could be a way to quickly point to a way to explain what some manufactures do and why Openwrt is written somewhere on their router

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I believe it's better to avoid making strict policies unless absolutely necessary. Enforcing them will create additional noise.

The users you want to hit with a clue-by-four will not back off after simply reading a policy. They will start arguing about it. Instead you'll probably scare away a few who are worried that their perfectly OpenWrt relevant question is off topic because they are running some fork.

There is a lot of great work being done behind the scene to make this forum the nice and welcoming place it is. It's working very well, IMHO. There aren't many truly off topic questions. And even the few border land you can find may be considered relevant to OpenWrt users if you keep an open mind.

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I don't think a policy that clearly says what firmware is and isn't supported is necessarily "strict".

At that point, I would post the link to the policy.

Then, the only argument to be had would be with the moderators about interpretation. (does this apply to my issue).

I have read it.

Some of the structure could be used for edge cases.

Why should that be a goal? It is relatively easy to just ignore threads one is not interested in, no?

I think folks who post deserve an answer.

Not difficult to refer them to resources that might help.

They may not like that answer, but it seems better than a snub.

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Not sure, this is a volunteer forum, where everybody decides which posts to interact with, which can result in some posts getting no response.

Good point.

That is also a consequence of this being a public forum on the internet, gist/quality/quantity of responses is not guaranteed (that said, this forum is pretty good at keeping the discourse civil, which I support, because I think that is something we can and should "police"/ascertain).

Agreed.

However, some folks (as @bmork pointed out) don't take the "news" well.

As long as they do so sufficiently civil, I think we can deal with that. :wink:

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I think we can as well...but it also seems like a good tool to have a site source to refer to, rather than "some person on the forum says it's not supported".

Makes it less likely to take it personally.

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I frequently ask for help on Gargoyle related issues, where they relate to functions or features that are base OpenWrt or only lightly modified. I occasionally hide that fact by obscuring host names or config items, because I feel I’ll get more help.

I’d hate to see someone turned away with a legitimate and answerable question because it’s not “genuine”.
On the other hand, if someone posted asking what a button does on the Gargoyle GUI, by all means send them to the right spot.

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@lantis1008 Honestly, I wouldn't even put Gargoyle on 'that' list. It may not be 'vanilla' OpenWrt, but it certainly isn't any cheap SDK hacked together by some ODM that then never updates it. It's a community project and those deserve support.

For me, 'that list' is the SDKs based on old OpenWrt releases that do not 'merit' support. But still, generic support questions like 'how do I do this on 14.07' e.g. shouldn't be blocked; SDK (like QSDK) specific questions are another matter.

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The only problem with that approach would be that literally anything around those SDKs is special... Proprietary kernel, non-mac80211 wireless drivers, forked-to-hell hostapd, usually concurrent configuration backends (nvram), custom/ proprietary daemons for who-knows-what and custom webinterfaces - all that coupled with disjunct and totally ancient parts of OpenWrt. For me personally, that immediately goes to /dev/null --> ask the vendor (and it doesn't exactly make me more sympathetic that many of those requests obviously originate from contractors looking for others doing their homework for free).

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As the author of one of the more common forks (ROOter) I agree that people deserve some kind of answer even if it just points them to another place.

ROOter is just OpenWrt with a bunch of extra packages added for modem support and some custom features. There are some minor visuals changes to Luci as well. But under the hood it is all OpenWrt with the code available for all the extra packages.

When people have modem related problems they use the ROOter forum as that is where the experts on this are. But when it is an OpenWrt related problem they may have to come here because the ROOter forum may not be able to answer the question.

It seems rather callous to say "You don't use plain vanilla OpenWrt so we don't want you here". Does this mean that anyone who can build their own images but chose to add some custom work is unwelcome here?

For the majority of people here I doubt that is the case but there are always a few who feel the need to be uncivil to those they feel don't belong here. Those need to be stepped on hard.

I remember seeing a person post here about a question about LUA and Json as used by OpenWrt. He was looking for more information about what was available and how it was used. Very reasonable question. All he got for an answer was "look for yourself and figure it out. We did so you should as well". Nice answer.

I don't post here often because, frankly, there is that attitude of you don't belong because of ROOter being a sort of fork. Not from everyone of course but there are those that give off those vibes.

So, treat posters with some respect and take into account that everyone was a noob at some point. On the ROOter forum I try to answer every post even if the question has been answered many times before. The same should happen here. It costs nothing to be civil.

Even if someone is asking about some horribly bodged together factory firmware that uses 17.01 and a bunch of closed source code at least don't just brush them off.

I do not want to be impolite, but IMHO in a volunteer forum like this not getting an answer is to be expected. I draw the line at unfriendly answers which IMHO nobody deserves (this gets murky if a poster acts impolite him-/herself first).

I think the phrasing would be more like, "you might have more success posting that question in your 'distribution's' forum". But I have seen less polite versions here as well IIRC.

With this I disagree, nobody needs to be "stepped on", sometimes a call to reason (or stricter policy/civility enforcement) might be required, but the idea about civil discourse should include all posters, and all posters should be treated with courtesy and respect.

I did not see this, but IMHO this is a case where it would have been better if the responder had not responded at all...

Mmmh, we obviously have different reference frames, I consider this forum over all on the respectful and friendly/welcoming side, I guess an incentive for us to try to do (even) better.

Again I respectfully disagree, staying silent IMHO is a valid course of action.

+1; my feeling so far was that this forum generally tries to act n that fashion, but apparently there is still room above to grow into.

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If you're offering firmware based on OpenWRT, it seems you should be able to support it.

Folks who do community builds here support their firmware.

I agree that there is always a chance that you won't get an answer and that is expected form most forums. It is disappointing that a knowledgeable person won't answer but that is life.

I think the phrasing would be more like, "you might have more success posting that question in your 'distribution's' forum". But I have seen less polite versions here as well IIRC.

And where do you draw the line at what a person should post here? If I'm using a ROOter firmware and I have a question about doing QOS on a group of IP Addresses should I be told to use the ROOter forum only? This is an OpenWrt question that probably can only answered here. This isn't a question about modems as handled by ROOter but something that is totally part of OpenWrt.

So uncivil behavior should not be taken to task? I don't think so. That just encourages them to keep posting that way. Forums are famous for post like "RTFM" and "do a search to find what you want ". That helps no one and being rude about it just makes it worse.

Exactly. But it seemed a case of "I know more than you so I'll dump on you". Turns peoleoff from using the forum.

It is one of the better Linux forums I've seem but there is always room for improvement. If people get turned off from posting here because of a few with bad attitudes that does the community no good.

So you are saying that we should be experts in every facet of OpenWrt if we supply a customized firmware? I would like you to point out to me anyone on this forum who is an expert in every area. The people doing the community builds certainly aren't. They need to ask questions of the experts in various areas to solve their problems.

I'm an expert in using modems with OpenWrt after doing it for 10 years but I'm certainly no expert on networking or DSA or many other areas of OenWrt that don't deal with modems. But sounds like you say I should be.

This idea that unless you use plain vanilla OpenWrt you don't deserve to ask questions here is ludicrous. I know this attitude doesn't come from the people behind OpenWrt but from people who use it

Once again we find ourselves asking who should post on this forum. Just because you are a contractor selling a version of OpenWrt doesn't mean you should be excluded. Or is the idea that anyone selling custom OpenWrt firmware should have a team of experts at hand to solve all the problems?

For example, I provide free ROOter firmware to anyone who wants to download it. The code is Open Source and available to all. I finance this by myself with no donations. It is totally free and I never ask or want donations.

But I also sell customized versions of ROOter to Rural ISP that provide cellular Internet to areas that have none. This covers the cost of maintaining ROOter and keep it free. Am I banned from this forum because I charge for customized firmware? And am I looking for a free handout on the backs of those that are here?

You decide.