I have a pile of routers, more than a dozen, which have stopped being updated and just basically abandoned by their manufacturers, well within their functional life, and many of them expensive, £100+ "pro home (wifi) routers".
For some time I used a variety of OpenWRT(LEDE), DDWrt, Tomato, PFSense, OPNSense and others, because CVEs in my edge-router / firewall isn't something I'm keen on.
I use an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter now, but I'm looking to move to a perhaps PCEngines + OPNSense for my next replacement.
I found out after my APU2 bit the dust last month. Though that's what I get for running it in a room that routinely gets to 35C/95F in the summer months. Lasted years so I still recommend, just don't put it somewhere stupid like me. Running a spare Celeron J1900 ITX board paired with a dual GbE NIC in the meantime.
How was performance, could it handle Gigabit WAN? Would/have you run OPNSense on it?
I was considering an apu2e4 because I'd like something more open (coreboot) than the other hardware I have to hand.
I've been using APU2's for years (and before that APU and ALIX). The ALIX couldn't really saturate gigabit, but iirc even the APU could. Highly recommended.
If and when I buy a new APU I plan on running OpenBSD and learn to setup PF proper and roll my own router (A friend runs such a setup and loves it). At this point I just want a standard OS.
I'm not very familiar with OpenBSD, have run FreeBSD for a while, would certainly be fun to play around with a router based on a standard OS and not have to worry about proprietary updates like with the EdgeRouter any more.
I run both FreeBSD and OpenBSD. FreeBSD for recently built home server as it has first class zfs support, bhyve works well, and excellent docs. OpenBSD as I know a few hard core users, and I've been using it on old hardware for years (have an imac G3 running it :). VPS for webcrap. OpenBSD is clean and they have good documentation as well. At the bottom of the following link is the pf router how-to I want to give a go, https://www.openbsd.org/faq/pf/
The current goto is commercial display PCs with multiple NICs otherwise there are some great micro PCs e.g. Qotom.
I really want a PCEngines APU specifically for my edge router though, mainly for coreboot and potentially failover to cellular, and it fits nicely in 1u too.
Does anyone know more?
So glad FreshTomato still keeps on getting regular updates and lets me use the now 7 years old R7000.
Open source router firmware: a) is derived from well-established Linux/BSD networking stacks, b) has a smaller installed user base, so is a less-attractive target, and correspondingly c) has a lower value of exploit, which is more likely to be CVE'ed for reputation than sold for cash.
An audit would be interesting and welcome, but I have more ambient confidence in open source router firmware than vendor firmware. There's nothing unusual about the hardware in these things that the vendor has special knowledge of.
Also, most alternative firmwares have better performance, a better UI, are more frequently updated if bugs are found, and have more features than most stock firmware.
I've used OpenWRT, DD-WRT, and Tomato on inexpensive consumer routers in the past. Never regretted any of them. I purchase home router hardware specifically by the compatibility lists.
Tomato was the only firmware that I liked to use and only stopped using it when shibby abandoned is 4 years ago.
Then it depends on your requirements. If your homelab lands in the area of 95% of the typical use cases, you will be very fine with OpenWrt or Tomato, or actually even most original firmware.
Unless you bought something that is ridden with bugs and will not get updates, there are most certainly no noticeable benefits of running an alternative firmware. (Things like bufferbloat come to mind, I prefer control over my buffers, but good routers firmwares also do this quite reasonably).
Another difference: getting OPNsense/pfSense running (and well maintained) will require considerably more time and effort, than OpenWrt or Tomato.
Actually, for most soho/home users I would recommend a FritzBox. They are really packed with features, are well updated, zero hassle. Unless you really, really need something more exotic, they will save you lots of time and money. Also: automatic updates (configurable).
There is also MikroTik. Slightly more expensive than FritzBox, also packed, but slightly different audience (larger networks, less "user-friendly"...).
Disclaimer: I have a FritzBox running PPPoE passthrough to an OpenWRT router running on a NanoPi 2RS dialing in over PPPoE, with a MikroTik CRS112 behind that running only as a switch.
I have my reasons for that setup, but the time and money I wasted on that setup is really difficult to justify to an outsider (and sometimes to myself). The FritzBox worked really, really well.
> there are most certainly no noticeable benefits of running an alternative firmware
For me, those are wireguard, pihole, and the unquantifiable benefit of freedom and choice. Oh, and vim at the cli, and usually a more complete environment than an outdated busybox shell.
(Although I'm hesitant to put a pihole up there too, it would not be the 'official' pihole or maybe in a container, both don't seem optimal).
But what I meant is: From a practical standpoint, on a daily basis, besides your subjective feeling, nobody else notices a difference if your router has Vim or not - as long as it works. And any decent router nowadays usually works.
And I think one should realize that this is tinkering for the tinkering's own sake. There are no objective benefits[*] if you ask an outsider, e.g. your partner.
And now I have to manually keep my router up to date, against all possible bugs in numerous open source packages. In 2021 at least security updates should be automatic for OSS- period.
[*] (Repeating:) UNLESS you have some specific requirements, e.g. VPN, multiple uplinks, specific software due to specific use cases, etc.
In these cases OpenWRT/Tomato etc. are an somewhat easier and cheaper way to get your own stack running, compared to setting up a full-fledged OTS x86 box with Linux or BSD, even pfSense is more work and more expensive I would argue, where the benefits over OpenWRT are even less tangible.
OpenWRT/Tomato can work on devices with 4MB RAM, 32MB ROM.
I now run this on an RT-AC68U, which has a dual radio. Is it the most recent router? Probably not, but it gets the job done and has a USB port for printer sharing (no clue if that works, we shall see.)
Flashing back to stock firmware gave me my gigabit back but lost me my control.
I hope that this is a solved issue, i never looked far in to it either so it may have already been solved. Just check before you jump in.
When those came out, you were probably running a Pentium 3 with 512 MB of DDR2-800 and had an 80 GB hard drive. If you're still running that as your PC, be careful, because modern desktop operating systems and programs are also considerably heavier. Stick with Netscape for browsing the web, though there's a new browser called Firefox in version 0.9. Napster recently shut down, but yes, your old Tomato firmware should be nice and snappy while using Limewire over your DSL modem, FreshTomato, with all the options built in, might not fit.
This will, indeed, run best and be enable the most features when using a router that has a comparatively generous 128 MB of Flash, 64 kB of NVRAM, and 128/256 MB of DRAM. Those are no longer opulent or excessive stats. Wifi AC is out, treat yourself to something with MIMO antennas, a dual-core 1+ GHz ARM processor to run all the neat plugins you might want to use, and USB3 storage. Even with that higher power, switching power supplies have improved dramatically in the past few decades, both the router and the power brick will probably not be as hot as on that old router at the same time as they're doing more and doing it faster.
For example, the image I used on my router was 27Mb, but the smaller "min" image for the relatively old RT-N12 was only 3.6Mb.
Time to play with it on my old ( no longer updated ) ASUS Router.