Open Wireless Router Firmware

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Installation Instructions   |   Source Code

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Open Wireless Router project?

The Open Wireless Router is a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation as part of the Open Wireless Movement. The movement was started to encourage a world of ubiquitous open Internet, with individuals and companies offering a portion of their wireless networks for public use. We’ve been working on a custom router software build to make sharing your network much easier, while also speeding up your internet experience and improving security.

Why is EFF doing this? Aren’t there already several router manufacturers and router firmware projects?

There are plenty of routers on the market right now, some of which even offer a “guest network” option. Yet in our research, we found that the most popular routers not only handle traffic prioritization poorly, but are also insecure. We’re building on top of open-source router projects that have greatly improved the state of the art in an effort to produce new firmware that is open-wireless friendly.

How can I get involved?

If you're a developer or a user who wants to provide feedback, there are a few ways to get involved. First, you can follow the project on GitHub and resolve some of the pending issues listed there or contact the developers with your ideas. Second, you can join the Open Wireless User mailing list for general and technical discussions about the router firmware.

Why should I install this router firmware?

By installing this firmware, you are doing your part to not only create a world of open wireless, but are also helping improve your own privacy and security while enhancing that of others. We've set out to build firmware that is more secure than common off-the-shelf routers, and your participation—especially through bug reports and feedback—would help us go a long way in achieving this goal.

How do I install the Open Wireless Router?

Check out our detailed instructions on how to install the Open Wireless Router firmware on your own home router.

Should I use this as the main router in my home?

No. This is a "hacker release" of our Open Wireless Router project. By that we mean it's pre-alpha; we are opening it up to the developer community because there are still bugs to fix and tweaks to be made. If you nevertheless use this as your home’s main router, you may run into some hiccups here and there—with your participation, these will be smoothed out soon enough.

We are building the Open Wireless Router firmware on CeroWRT, a branch of the router firmware OpenWRT that is focused on developing cutting-edge networking software with better bandwidth sharing algorithms and ipv6 support.. As such, the base for our router firmware has been through several years of testing and trial validation. This is something that few, if any, commercial routers on the market can claim. While we cannot promise complete security, we are also collaborating with leading security firms and opening it up to the broader community to make sure this router is as safe as possible.

Will you be supporting other router hardware?

We’re building our Open Wireless Router on CeroWRT, a branch of the router firmware OpenWRT, which currently works on a bunch of routers. Right now, though, we’re focusing on fine-tuning our project for one specific router: the Netgear WNDR3800.

This router doesn't have certain features. Will you be adding more?

If there's a particular feature missing that you want to see, please let us know (or, even better, help build it yourself). Remember, this is an early stage of our Open Wireless Router project, and it's only going to get better from here.

Will running open wireless make me liable for things I didn't do?

In the United States, there are strong arguments that the significant legal protections for ISPs apply to open wireless operators. We believe these laws greatly reduce the risk of being held liable for the activities of neighbors and passers by. However, some risks do still exist. This page discusses the protections, the risks, and what you can do to minimize them.

Does this violate my ISP’s terms of service?

Unfortunately, the terms of service for some ISPs currently have sections that may prohibit users from running an open wireless network. These terms of service are generally written very broadly and often purport to prohibit a lot of behaviors that many users engage in regularly—not just open wireless. As part of our movement, we call on ISPs to explicitly permit—and even promote—open wireless.

For users who prefer not to run the risk of violating Terms of Service, other options exist. You might consider switching ISPs or looking into the possibility of upgrading your account to a premium or corporate account where running an open wireless network is not prohibited. Also, give your ISP feedback. Voicing your dissatisfaction with unfavorable Terms of Service is also a good way to combat the proliferation of overly limiting conditions and to help ISPs see market opportunities.

For a list of some ISPs that support open wireless, check out the Open Wireless Movement website. (Last updated: July 22, 2014)

How does this compare to services like Fon or Comcast XFINITY Wi-Fi?

Some services, like Fon and Comcast XFINITY Wi-Fi, offer subscribers the ability to connect with networks around their community. This feature is generally only available to customers—in other words, it’s not open—though Comcast allows non-subscribers to pay for short-term service.

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