OpenWrt is a free, open-source project for creating custom embedded operating systems for routers. It is a complete replacement for the vendor-supplied firmware of a wide range of wireless routers and non-network devices. OpenWrt is based on Linux kernel and it is the oldest open-source router firmware project.
Yesterday the OpenWrt community announced the first stable release of the OpenWrt 21.02 stable version series. The new release brings Linux kernel 5.4, gcc 8.4, glibc 2.33, and binutils 2.34, among many other updates and improvements.
The idea behind OpenWRT is to open up functionality that wasn’t originally available, but also to provide a Linux framework, for customizing your device to do far more than it was originally designed for. This firmware requires some knowledge to use properly and quite a bit more to make it worthwhile. Therefore, OpenWRT is best for more technical people who know exactly what they want.
What’s New in OpenWrt 21.02
OpenWrt 21.02 incorporates over 5800 commits since branching the previous OpenWrt 19.07 release and has been under development for about one and a half year.
WPA3 support is now included by default. It was already supported in 19.07 but it was not provided by the default set of packages in OpenWrt images.
For those unfamiliar, WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) represents the latest generation in mainstream security for wireless networks. It improves the level of security compared to the widely popular WPA2 standard, yet maintains backward compatibility.
With OpenWrt 21.02, all packages necessary to provide WPA3 are installed by default in OpenWrt images.
In OpenWrt 21.02 TLS support is provided by default including the trusted CA certificates from Mozilla. It means that
opkg now support fetching resources over HTTPS out-of-the-box. In addition, LuCI is now available over HTTPS in addition to HTTP.
OpenWrt 21.02 comes with initial support for Distributed Switch Architecture (DSA), which replaces the
swconfig system that OpenWrt was using up until now. This is a significant change to how switch ports and VLANs are managed.
Last but not least, due to new features being introduced and the general size increase of the Linux kernel, devices now need at least 8 MB of flash and 64 MB of RAM to run a default build of OpenWrt.
For detailed information about all changes in OpenWrt 21.02, you can refer to the official announcement.
sysupgrade command can be used to upgrade a device from OpenWrt 19.07 to OpenWrt 21.02, and configuration will be preserved in most cases.