Note: I've also built images for the WNR612v2, WPN824N, WNR2000v3 - see the bottom of this first post.
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 very capable of basic networking tasks and also works very 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.
My motivation for this project is to reduce electronic waste by continuing to use viable products - with current software. Please abstain from 4/32 debates on this thread.
I've compiled builds for 17.01.7 and 18.06.4. These are stable base builds compiled from each git branch that include LuCi, SQM, IPV6, and PPP support. opkg has been removed because there is no space to install additional packages. Build manifests, config.seed and sha256sums files are in the download folder.
I'm working on a stable 19.07 build - it is not yet ready, but testing looks promising.
Why Not Use the Official OpenWRT Firmware?
The standard, auto-generated official OpenWRT firmware images 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
Try to 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 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 you will need to flash a "factory" image of OpenWRT Breaker Barrier to begin. If it is already running OpenWRT, skip to Step 4. Open the "Flash from NETGEAR Firmware" folder from the file you download above and select the appropriate .img file for your model - V2 or VC. You then need to reboot the router in failsafe mode.
For booting into failsafe mode, power up the device while holding the reset button with a pin. The power LED should have an amber colour. Hold the reset button until it is starting to flash green. It starts to flash green after it flashes the amber LED six times. After that, the device is in failsafe mode, accepting a firmware via its TFTP server. The device should respond to pings at 192.168.1.1, although the responses may be malformed. Configure your ethernet interface with a 192.168.1.0/24 IP address. I use 192.168.1.2 with netmask 255.255.255.0 but it should work with any free address from that block. (Credit to SaltwaterC - see his thread for troubleshooting.)
Once the router is running Breaker Barrier (or higher) you can then upgrade to 17.01.7 or 18.06.4 via the sysupgrade .bin file using the "Backup / Flash Firmware" menu within the GUI. Make sure whenever you flash to verify the sha256sums to ensure it isn't corrupted. Uncheck "Keep settings" for maximum reliability when upgrading between versions.
The TFTP flashing method works, but it can be inconsistent. Keep trying, it seems to work best on Linux. Be patient after flashing as the green light can blink for a few minutes before the router comes back up after a flash. When in doubt, do not unplug for at least 5 minutes after a flash.
- Once running 18.06.4 it can be difficult to flash reliably from the "Backup / Flash Firmware" menu to upgrade/downgrade. I suggest you flash via command line and drop caches to make more RAM available before flash. The drop cache command is "sync && echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches". The 17.01.7 builds do not have this issue.
- The 18.06.4 build with PPP does not display a Kernel Log in LuCi - due to the lack of flash space to include printk timestamps. This PPP build also uses slightly more RAM - if you don't need PPP, flash the non-PPP build.
- Free RAM, as reported by top, ranges from 4-7.5 MB depending on the build version.
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 3.31MB (as reported/measured by OpenWRT immediately before flash) 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-V22.214.171.124NA.img” file. It is likely the only firmware that will be accepted via TFTP flash.
Recovery for the v2 Model
It should be similiar to the VC model method described above. Start with the earliest version NETGEAR firmware when reflashing via TFTP.
Additional information on flashing these routers courtesy of mPratt14.
I've built 17.01.7 and 18.04.6 firmware for models that share the same Atheros chipset as the WNR1000v2. I don't own these models, but the hardware is practically identical. If you download and install, please let me know how they run on your respective model.