I need to buy some more routers for a mesh project I have but I am unsure which routers or manufacturers (if any) are preventing third-party firmware from being flashed. Is it fair to say that if the model is listed on the TOH than it can still be flashed without a hack to bypass firmware restrictions? Edit: I would be buying US models.
TP-Link is getting a pretty bad reputation about openness. They started to release locked down firmwares last year but were advised to stop that in accordance to a FCC settlement. They've also made sure that serial is not functionnal with model AC2600 by ripping off required component.
And they are in the TOH. However Lock down can be circumvented using the correct LEDE build that is region coded for that (at least for the Archer C7 that I own). I Don't know if that fits your requirement of not being blocked, but found that those informations were worth mentionning.
EDIT: Mention about hardware specific that I know of and added links for references.
That is good information.
However, I don't see any regional downloads in the LEDE downloads section. Is this something I can set in the buildsystem? I did find the factory build commit and rechecked the download section and found the two regional factory firmwares for the 841v11. I assume I will get two factory images when I do my own build. Thanks!
Here's the story for the TP-Link Archer C7 v2 (that's a device I'm familiar with). There are several rc2 images for Archer C7 at: http://downloads.lede-project.org/releases/17.01.0-rc2/targets/ar71xx/generic/
There are three "Factory" images: EU, US, and "no-country". Use these to flash LEDE starting from the vendor/stock/factory firmware. They counteract the "region locking" that TP-Link incorporated.
There is a "sysupgrade" image, that will upgrade any LEDE image. (LEDE firmware removes/ignores the region locking):
NB: There is also a TP-Link Archer C7 v2 IL router manufactured for Israel that is sufficiently different from other Archer C7's that it has its own build. These are:
Help needed for Patch firmware of locked Archer c7
Flash chip patch for Archer C7 v2 in LEDE 17.01
il === Israel. Thanks!
If not TP-Link then what other company is recommended?
I'm not saying that TP-Link is not recommended, I own one myself and I'm happy with it; this is my way of saying to watch for gotchas before buying it, since TP-Link are not fair play with third partys.