What to do with a bunch of unused/older OpenWrt compatible devices

Hi it seems i have a bunch of hardware thats openwrt compatible sitting unused, but also too old/useless to sell so i figured i'd at least put them to good use running menial tasks, is there anything that can run on openwrt that involves openwrt devices communicating with each other in a clustered form? It would be even better if it was something that would also involve regular linux clients as well.

Can openwrt devices be put on standby and waken using WoL?

What is required in order to create programs to run on openWRT?

Suggested reading: What to do with older devices

If your devices fall into the 432 category -> dump them.


run LibreMesh on the supported devices you have


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they dont, i checked each one of them, even im shocked at how much resource my modem has. Even my old wireless router also has sufficient ram and flash too, only my oldest ISP supplied router is what im worried on as it has 4MB of flash but 32MB of ram and according to wiki installs and runs openWRT smoothly

Umm, no, as @tmomas stated, they're slated for the recycle bin, if not already in there.

While they may have run OpenWrt / LEDE years ago, anything with less than about 16 MB flash and 128 MB RAM isn't worth trying to maintain for most users. Anything with a single-thread, MIPS core isn't going to be able to keep up with today's bandwidth, and certainly not with what people are expecting from all-in-one routers.

@tmomas -- yet another example of someone taking the long-outdated information on the wiki over the 4/32 banner -- really need to get the project to acknowledge that 4/32 is dead except for "expert" (informed) users

not planning to use them for bandwidth related tasks.

Here are some menial tasks that i could use them for.
torrent client
Simple webserver
Plenty more other simple tasks, i could use the builder and not include many things like PPP.

My point however is simple, i just want to give them a simple task they can all do together for fun, maybe something like measuring time drift between them, something like a self contained NTP for example. Its more of a proof of concept rather than doing something to keep up with todays bandwidth demands, as an AP well not everyone lives in big places so thats already covered, i can turn off wifi and not worry about it either.

This has nothing to do with bandwidth, it's more fundamental -- you can't get a minimal kernel, application software, and configuration space into 4 MB or run that reliably in 32 MB of RAM. Even if you can today, you literally won't be able to within a year, based on how the Linux kernel itself has been evolving.

You're probably better off with the right hardware for the task, rather than fighting with a router. 4 MB of flash, then if you can cram it in, 32 MB of RAM is going to waste a huge amount of your time

  • ARM Cortex eval boards are available at US$10 or less from reputable manufacturers, if real-time performance is critical
  • BLE boards with an ARM core are also available at US$10
  • ESP32-class devices
  • Raspberry Pi Zero, or Zero W

You're exceptionally unlikely to be able to run CUPS on a 4/32 machine, and if you did, spooling to flash will put that device into the recycle bin nearly as quickly as you should have in the first place.


what i listed is the minimum hardware i have, everything else has more flash ram and CPU.

I already have a cluster of ARM based boards, with a cluster of different x86 based systems all running linux, if i could run a regular linux os on the routers i already would, i just want to give them something to do, and i am a programmer.

Real time performance isnt critical, and besides some of the MIPS used by these routers are interesting in which they also use something similar to intel HT.

So im asking, what could i run with openwrt on these older hardware, i've never developed a software on openWRT and from what i gather its not the same as coding for linux either. I have some functional unused hardware ranging from old to newer things, even some tp link wifi AC routers i dont use that have a USB port as well to VDSL modems that come with your mentioned flash and ram and a decent CPU but sports a 100Mb/s port (useless when VDSL goes up to 300Mb/s, bad design on netgears part) and various more things.

Good, chuck the 4/32 device and keep the rest and work with that. As for what to do with it... seems like you're looking for a purpose rather than having a purpose and looking for hardware. So, only you can answer what you would like them to do.

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There is one thing you can do with the old devices. They can be used as wifi-adapters for computers that don't come with wifi built-in. Early Raspberry PI's for example only supported ethernet but not wifi. So plug router into Raspberry and have router be client to connect to actual router and you have wifi with good antennas. Same deal with older desktops that only have ethernet but not wifi.
Of course, how often will you be working with devices that don't have wifi? Probably not often. I would keep at least one of them for this purpose, but if you have many, then yes, there probably won't be much use these days due to bandwidth, etc.

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i have 2 raspberrys, and sure they dont come with wifi AC but i have them plugged along side other ARM boards into a managed switch, i can still use them as backup switches and wifi APs but i'd still like to tax their CPU with something not critical. SAMBA is one thing that comes to mind, i've used openWRT on an older tp link router long ago with an external hard drive. Speeds were slow but at least werent locked to a single device like the stock tp link firmware.

But i'd like to use openwrt across multiple older routers for something that can be done in a clustered way.

First thing to remember is that Linux is a kernel, not an operating system. OpenWrt uses a Linux kernel that is very close to upstream, so programming for OpenWrt is very similar to programming for a "desktop" Linux-based distro. Things to remember:

  • OpenWrt is not designed to compile and build software on the device. Use of the build system for cross compiling is generally the wisest approach
  • OpenWrt uses different boot sequencing, procd instead of init or systemd, ubus instead of dbus or similar, so how to enable and manage services is different than most desktop distros
  • Most software designed to desktop systems now assumes "unlimited" resources compared to what even current, high-end all-in-one devices support. Even more important with resource-crippled devices like the ones it seems you're considering (including those with more than 4/32).

If you want to "play" with things, party on. From experience, the cost in hours and hard limits on functionality far exceed the ~US$20 cost of either a USB dongle, or a current micro-router with reasonable resources like the GL.iNet AR300M-Lite, VixMini, or MT300N-V2.

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Thanks, i have plenty of hardware resources to work with, what i want to do with them is something so small that memory is not an issue, like calculating numbers for fun as part of a collective or something.

You also have the karma option of donating them to under-served regions of the world in South America and Africa.

Im from a very different continent. To send them would be very expensive, far more than they're worth, otherwise i'd have given them away. Im in a 3rd world country myself but the ISPs are giving wireless AC routers for free, so these routers have no value.

So the best thing i can do with them is to recycle them by putting them to good use, developing things that would run on them that would be useful to others, and nowadays clustering or collectively doing something would be something useful to others.

May I suggest a weather station, and maybe a lawn sprinkler controller linked to the weather. Maybe an automated backup of desktop machines to an external drive.

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I've been upgrading the memories in my old stuff. For about $3.00 in parts you can turn a typical entry level TP Link into a 16/64 "beast". The later ath9k chips seem worth holding on to because of their remarkably low power consumption.

Do you desolder the memory and resolder a new one on? The bootloader/firmware will automatically detect the new chip?

@dlakelan, i dont have a lawn for that, and as for weather, thats just an update via the net, as for sensors these routers dont come equipped with ports like on various raspberry pi formats or even arduino formats as i have plenty of those.

I have a file server for backing up, but a MIPS CPU uses a lot less power than even an intel atom or the AMD CPUs i have in my file server, so trivial tasks like bittorrent can be done here or even running a linux update mirror that can be up and running 24/7. However other than these simple tasks, im also interested in collective tasks. Like with the ARM boards i have, low power consumption, just laying around so i want to make something out of them compared to keeping x86 computers running 24/7

If you're looking to conserve power, consider using that "extra" CPU on your existing boxes with virtualization for those "trivial" (and not-so-trivial) tasks that are too risky to run at the top-level.

All you need is USB.

For a simple weather station:

  • SDR dongle (Compatibility list #1 | Compatibility list #2)
  • Oregon Scientific BTHGN129 (wireless sensor for temperature, humidity, barometer) or
  • Fine Offset WH25 (wireless sensor for temperature, humidity, barometer)
  • Software: rtl-sdr, rtl_433, rtl_868, weewx + weewx-sdr