The NETGEAR WNR1000V2/VC was one of the most widely-distributed "free" routers from Comcast and was given to hundreds of thousands of customers in the United States. It is an old 4/32 router but is still capable of basic networking tasks and works well as a dumb access point. I've been running OpenWRT on it for the past three years and it as reliable as the venerable Linksys WRT54G.
I've created builds for 17.01.6 and 18.06.2 using Image Builder. These are base builds that include LuCi without IPv6, PPP and opkg as there is no space for these additional features without causing a bootloop. These builds are stable and average 6MB of free RAM after installation. Build manifests and sha256sums are available in the download folder.
Why Not Use the Official OpenWRT Firmware?
The standard, auto-generated official OpenWRT firmware images for both 17.01.x and 18.06.x are too large. You will likely be able to install these official images, but the settings will not be retained upon reboot due to a lack of flash space.
How to Install
Identify whether you have a v2 or v2-VC hardware version of the router. The product label will not identify if it is a v2-VC. If the router was provided by Comcast or another ISP is is likely a VC version. If you can open a serial console and view the boot log the first line of output identifies the model. You can also just try flashing the v2 and v2-vc .img files ending with '-factory' and see which one works. It will be safely rejected by U-boot if it is the wrong file.
If the router is running original Netgear firmware or a version of OpenWRT that is older than Barrier Breaker 14.07, you will need to follow SaltwaterC's instructions before you can flash to a modern version of OpenWRT. The TFTP flashing method works, but it can be inconsistent - keep trying, it seems to work best on Linux.
Once you've updated to OpenWRT Chaos Calmer 15.05 in Step 2, you can then download the most recent OpenWRT firmware for your hardware version (v2 or v2-VC), select the desired sysupgrade image, and then verify the sha256sums to ensure it isn't corrupted. I suggest unchecking "Keep settings" for maximum reliability when upgrading between versions.
Customization and Building Your Own
I won't be providing customization for these builds, as there is very little flash space for any additional packages. If you create your own build any firmware file much greater than 3.475MB is likely too large and will cause a bootloop and/or will not preserve settings upon reboot.
I've placed the original Netgear firmware for the v2 and VC (North America Models only) in the same folder as the builds above in the event your brick your router.
Recovery for the VC Model
- If you brick your router trying to upgrade to OpenWRT and need to revert your WNR1000v2-VC back to stock Netgear firmware via a TFTP flash, use the “WNR1000v2-VC-V184.108.40.206NA.img” file first. It is likely the only firmware that will be accepted via TFTP flash.
- Once you’ve successfully flashed above, login to the Netgear router web interface and update the firmware using the “WNR1000v2-VC-V220.127.116.11NA.img” file, as this is likely the only OEM firmware version that will accept the “openwrt-ar71xx-generic-wnr1000v2-vc-squashfs-factory-barrier-breaker-r44095.img” file from SaltwaterC’s flash method.
- Once you’ve flashed to SaltwaterC’s BreakerBarrier img file you can then upgrade via sysupgrade.bin files to the next version of OpenWRT. I suggest unchecking "Keep settings" for maximum reliability when you upgrade between versions. Check the checksums.
Recovery for the v2 Model
It should be similiar to the VC model method described above. Start with the earliest NETGEAR OEM firmware.
Additional information on flashing these routers courtesy of mPratt14.