Best free software friendly router

20 replies [Last post]
Mzee
Offline
Joined: 07/10/2013

Hello guys,

I just have one very quick question for you: Which routers do you use (with free firmwares, of course) and where did you get them from? I was actually planning to buy a new router for myself and wanted to go for the FSF-certified TPE-NWIFIROUTER (https://www.fsf.org/news/thinkpenguin-wireless-router-now-fsf-certified-to-respect-your-freedom). I figured it would maybe be the best idea to buy it directly from ThinkPenguin but on their website I just get a "Access denied" message: https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/free-software-wireless-n-broadband-router-gnu-linux-tpe-nwifirouter2.

I know that Chris must be extremely busy these days but I would still be happy to buy a router from him. ;-) Any ideas on how I would go about getting one? Thank you.

lembas
Offline
Joined: 05/13/2010

That seems less than optimal. I probably would try to inform him of the situation via https://www.thinkpenguin.com/contact

Mzee
Offline
Joined: 07/10/2013

I already contacted him but didn't get a reply so far, which is why I tried to ask here whether you know of some other sources I could use to get a new router and help free software at the same time.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Joined: 04/23/2011

I may have answered this already, but here is why we don't have the new models released. We're working on a dual-band 802.11n router. It's done. Problem is we need $$$. It's something like $30,000+ USD for just this one model which we don't have at the moment. Hopefully I'll pull the cash together shortly for it. There has been a lot going on and the profits on the new router will be seriously lower making it even more difficult to make work. The lower end router would be easier, but the work on that isn't complete.

I should also point out that it's unclear right now... still... what is going to happen with the FCC when we go for certification. It can be certified and they can still fine you into non-existence. I don't support this sort of violence and theft, but there aren't enough people opposing mindless regulations and government in general as it stands. The solution to this immediate problem as I see it is to lock it down metaphorically. By that I mean we won't add digital restrictions, but we will be forced to remove upload/flashing functionality to comply with the rules. I probably can't say more without creating a legal issue. However the complete set of sources will be available and I'll leave it to your imagination what good that would be for a locked down device or a device for which there is no sane means to flash. Encouraging others to violate the law in other words would create a problem.

vita_cell
Offline
Joined: 07/19/2015

Cris, does Trisquel's part of donated money goes to some Libre project like routers?

Magic Banana

I am a member!

Offline
Joined: 07/24/2010

25% of the benefits made on a purchase on http://libre.thinkpenguin.com (notice the "libre" part) go to the Trisquel project. Not the other way around. The Trisquel project lives on donations. Be a member: https://trisquel.info/member

I have just updated Trisquel's financial information: https://trisquel.info/en/wiki/financial-information

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Joined: 04/23/2011

So basically at the moment ThinkPenguin's funding LibreCMC's development, infrastructure, etc, 100%. It's not exactly a profitable thing, but it's also potentially a break even thing if we ever got around to adding 3-4 devices running LibreCMC to our catalog. We're close. But it's challenging given a lack of resources.

Trisquel's also getting 25% of the profits from any sales coming from http://libre.thinkpenguin.com so I would encourage you to utilize that URL. It helps us to gauge how practical certain projects might be. For example I have a decent idea that targeting free software users has a not-insignificant return so it makes sense to say target free software users when we help with/do a campaign like crowd funding the EOMA68 standard/laptop/Libre Tea Computer Card. If I thought it wouldn't have helped enough we'd probably have pushed more outside the free software community (as hilarious as that sounds given it is a libre project). I think the overwhelming # of people who went with the Libre Tea Computer Card over other options demonstrated very well that it wasn't a mistake. Many people mistakenly believe that the free software community has no impact. That's not true. We didn't primarily target free software users. That was only maybe 2/10's of those targeted. The majority of people targeted were from outside the free software universe.

We got a bunch of other projects and things we contribute to financially. 10% of the amount from sales sold via certain third parties goes to the FSF. It's not something that is well known. There are lots of other examples like this. Some are more substantial than this. We primarily only spend marketing $$$ in places where it has a benefit to freedom-related projects. I'm using that word very broadly here. It would encompass non-software related endeavours as well.

Mzee
Offline
Joined: 07/10/2013

I'm confused now. Does that mean that I can't buy the mentioned router from you at this moment? If yes, I still don't understand why exactly. What's your suggestion in the meantime? I need a new router right now, unfortunately. If you don't sell this router, I would have to buy this model from some other place and flash it myself or turn to your competitors. However, I don't want to do that, as I like your shop, its ideology and this new modular laptop and I would like to support that.

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Joined: 04/23/2011

We do have a mini VPN router that'll also act as a normal wireless router if you do not purchase it with VPN service (it only has one LAN port and one WAN port, you'd have to get an ethernet switch to utilize it with more than one wired device/computer):

https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/free-software-wireless-n-mini-vpn-router-tpe-r1100

I hate to say this, but your options are *extremely* limited outside of what we have in our catalog, and even then the number of routers is shrinking to nothing. It's not at all straight forward to buy a random router and get it working. You have to buy specific models and hope that what you are getting will actually work. Somebody here had to contact something like 20 eBay sellers to find 1 router containing the right revision board that would work with LibreCMC. It was possible that even after that it wouldn't have worked either. We have gotten routers from different sources with the same revision boards before and had multiple routers *not* work. I forget why we were doing this, but probably for testing/hacking/etc. The only difference I think in that case was they used different chips somewhere that caused problems with flashing them. This was not like different wifi chips, but just different flash chips.

I can think of a heck of a lot of examples like this particularly when we start talking about different products. Like for instance 10/100 adapters that contained the same chipsets, but different device IDs. Both should work, but because they utilize different device IDs and one of the adapters doesn't have its device ID in the kernel the adapter doesn't get initialized. To fix that you'd have to recompile. YIKES! Adding the device ID and recompiling in that case would fix the problem, but it's not simple and straight forward, especially if you don't know what you are doing and no directions exist.

So.. yea- there is a reason I started TP. I saw people all around me repeatedly making the same stupid mistakes on a grand scale. Companies and distributions literally telling people to buy model X of something only to have it not work or stop working when they upgraded. This problem hasn't magically disappeared and people are still doing this stuff.

We can fix it to some degree, but its going to be through programs like RYF and ThinkPenguin. Not hardware databases nor holding our breath. We need code to be released and we need companies providing proper support and documentation. Even limited support and documentation goes a long long way today. There is always going to be a lot to be desired, but it's much much better than it was.

Mzee
Offline
Joined: 07/10/2013

Ok, after performing some research I now get the general idea about this whole "FCC vs. free firmware" issue.

@Chris: I think it's very confusing that the official link from the FSF website redirects to an "access denied" page. I know that you must be very busy these days but wouldn't it be a good idea to create a simple page explaining all the backgrounds to potential customers (or at least linking to such a page)?

Chris

I am a member!

Offline
Joined: 04/23/2011

It's discontinued. If we had the time and resources I might fix this. It's more important that I keep on top of actually resolving other issues. Like review our new web site so that the web developer can fix any issues. Or work on fixing some issues that we still have with getting the newer models out the door.

ollonois
Offline
Joined: 08/15/2016

Is libreCMC still under active development? Last mail on their ml is from march and the last release from last year.

jxself
Offline
Joined: 09/13/2010

"Is libreCMC still under active development?"

Yes.

"the last release from last year."

What?! No it's not. Version 1.3.4 came out two months ago in July: https://librecmc.org/librecmc/downloads/snapshots/v1.3.4/ar71xx/luci/

You should visit their IRC channel. It's quite active. Some people were talking about VoIP stuff in there earlier today.

knacky
Offline
Joined: 04/06/2016

They don't do a very good job at keeping linked to the latest version, so it only looks like nothing is going on. Timeline shows the 1.3.4 release announcement but didn't seem to make it to the release section yet. jxself has already posted the URL to 1.3.4 binaries.

If you wanted more control and greater customization, just follow their simple guide for compiling it yourself...

https://librecmc.org/librecmc/wiki?name=Build+HOWTO

Super easy to do. And it allows you to compile in useful things like SQM and BCP38 that are not in their prebuilt images.

Only at the part where it says...

fossil open ../librecmc.fossil v1.3.x

...do this instead...

fossil open ../librecmc.fossil v1.3.4

...or you will end up compiling 1.3 trunk instead of 1.3.4.

I compiled 1.3.4 a day after its release and have been running it on two WNDR3800 units. Zero issues. I absolutely love libreCMC. So much cleaner than openWRT and no blobs.

ollonois
Offline
Joined: 08/15/2016

Thanks for that information. They really should keep their website more up to date.

lilos
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2015
lilos
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2015

Yes it runs only free software and it is best router that can be found on the market has dual wifi and 128 mb ram dual usb.

ealltech
Offline
Joined: 09/30/2016

It is possible to run OpenWRT on the Beaglebone Black. Perhaps it would be possible to use the Beaglebone or similar ARM embedded single board computer with LibreCMC (if ports exist, or indeed OpenWRT itself)?
This is something I'm interested in doing myself as it turns out.

Misty
Offline
Joined: 03/22/2016

Hello everyone, and hello Chris, thank you for taking time to answer people's questions. It's wonderful to see a company so passionate about free software that someone from there will take the time to answer questions and explain things to us.

I want to buy a libre computer and possibly a router, and I've been to the TP site a few times. Now that I've seen this thread, I'm even more impressed, and will see how I can manage the finances.

If I have any questions I'll surely know where to go for help. There are so many wonderful people who have been very helpful to me. This tech stuff is so over my head but very fascinating. I'm extremely grateful to this community. :D

Thanks again.

calebhc
Offline
Joined: 10/12/2016

I just bought a Wireless-N Mini VPN Router from TP along with their VPN service. Really excited to try it out and have a free, open alternative. :)

ealltech
Offline
Joined: 09/30/2016

It is possible to run OpenWRT on the Beaglebone Black. Perhaps it would be possible to use the Beaglebone or similar ARM single board computer with LibreCMC (if ports exist, or indeed OpenWRT itself)?
This is something I'm interested in doing myself as it turns out.