Which image to install? Any official handholding guide?

I got a used old TP-link from a friend, and after years of using dd-wrt I finally had a box with enough flash to go full WRT. I first installed 18.06.4 like a good boy and then I see lots of stuff is starting to look stale. like I can get an old dns-crypt but not the new v.2+ builds of the package.

Looking at the forums, I see most of everybody is using 19.07 or even newer unversioned snapshots, but I could not find a guide to add "unstable" like I'm used to on Debian. the main site mostly only links to stable and "snapshot", and I can't figure out if that snapshot means "stable+latest opkg" or "unstable". I'm not sure I want the cutting edge unstable because it means also chasing weekly or daily kernel changes.

so I found this URL for 19.07: [downloads openwrt org/ releases/ 19.07-SNAPSHOT] but it's hard to figure out which one to pick, so I go to my model's page and see the target is "ar71xx-ath79" but the targets directory has either ar71xx or ath79. what's a guy to do?

so I look at the bottom of said hardware model page, I find a link to the snapshot, I backup my config and try to upload the sysupgrade image, the router says it's the wrong format. should I upgrade to the latest "factory" image and try to restore the backup? try the latest 19.07? go for a "factory" full build and reconfigure by hand? Just stick to 18.06.4 till the new stable gets released (which I understand is almost a year behind schedule already)?

TL;DR: HALP stable is old and it's not unclear how to stay up to date with features without becoming a part-time developer.

My two cents:

  • Untill it becomes an official release, 19.07 is SNAPSHOT, and there is nothing newer.
  • I highly doubt that most people is running SNAPSHOT; looking at this forum could give you a false impression.
  • You either stay on 18.06 and wait for 19.07, or join SNAPSHOT and face the consequences.
  • Some packages can be updated just by building an updated version on the old release build; some other cannot.

I have a wdr4900v2, it has almost the same hardware as yours, plus 5G band.
To adventure a newer version to have offload feature, I have tested all 4 possible versions, here they are:

  1. main stream snapshot ath79 branch
    it works, but I can not control the LEDs and can not restore from 18.06.4 backup

  2. main stream snapshot ar71xx branch
    it works but package update broken since no more build since June 2019, so unusable.

  3. 19.07 snapshot ath79 branch
    It works, newer wireless driver framework, you can not restore backup from 18.06.4, or you must remove /etc/config/wireless and reenter your settings, and also I can not turn off LEDs.

  4. 19.07 snapshot ar71xx branch
    it works, has offload option (kernel 4.14), can restore 18.06.4 backup, can control LEDs. But the ar71xx driver framework is deprecated.

I currently use 19.07 snapshot ar71xx branch, enabling offload increase a little the network throughput.

I am waiting that the ath79 branch has the LEDs fixed.

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Some explanation from https://openwrt.org/docs/techref/targets/ar71xx-ath79:

ar71xx-ath79 is a dummy target for devices which have been migrated from ar71xxath79. See the respective target page for more information.

  • If target = ar71xx → devices with this target can be found only in in ar71xx
  • If target = ath79 → devices with this target can be found only in ath79
  • If target = ar71xx-ath79 → devices with this target can be found in both, ar71xx and ath79
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ar71xx is deprecated and won’t be built in the future. Those are the stale builds

You may have to wait a long time as the v2 unit you have was China-only and I doubt an active dev (a) has one in hand and (b) has the desire to dust it off and work on a relatively outdated device

@seefood, welcome to the community!

Snapshots are versioned. The "R number" and hex coding of firmware refers to it's exact build.


They can be cross referenced here.


ar71xx is deprecated, ath79 is new. If your device is there, use it.

Saving configs between versions can be problematic.

It seems that the LEDs problem is temporary, just to allow uninstall drivers during the ath79 development. Also, as wdr4900v2 differs from Archer C7v2 only the 5G chip (ar9580 vs qca9880), I keep hoping that fixing the LEDs issue in archer C7v2 would fix 'automatically' wdr4900v2. Otherwise, I can live with the current working 19.07 ar71xx branch.

You may want to see this about the progression of that branch vs master. And for others who may read, the normal snapshot no longer updates the ar71xx target.

I noticed that the master snapshot does not build the ar71xx branch but the 19.07 snapshot ar71xx has at least build dated october 24.

Do you mean that the final 19.07 will not include the deprecated ar71xx branch?

So...that information, I'm not privileged to...that's a question that also crossed my mind, given that the 19.07-SNAPSHOT branch is so far behind now.

What consequences? I build snapshots for over 3 years now. I always have openwrt repo in my pc with my own config and patches. I just git pull and update feeds then recompile and flash router. Never had any issues. About 30 minutes ago i flashed new ath79 firmware on my device, previously it was ar71xx and no problems at all. Everything is working fine. I think snapshots are prety stable.