How to Install OpenWRT Firmware on NETGEAR WNR3500L

Once you get your hands on the NETGEAR WNR3500L, you'll probably be pretty tempted to start hacking away; unleashing the power of this brand new open source monster.  Along with other builds of ready made firmware, a BETA version of the OpenWRT firmware is available.

What is OpenWRT?

OpenWRT is a Linux-based firmware for embedded devices, including the NETGEAR WNR3500L.  It supports uPnP, highly customizable firewall and configuration settings, network monitoring, Dynamic DNS, mesh networking, among several other features.  Learn more about OpenWRT at its official site or Wikipedia.org.

How To Install OpenWRT on your WNR3500L

Alright, on to the good stuff!  The first thing you'll need to do is download the WNR3500L specific build of OpenWRT.  You can find it (and a link to the source code) here.

Warning: Before you proceed, the BETA version of OpenWRT being used for this tutorial may be unstable and may also pose multiple security risks.  It would be best to limit your usage of this early build to testing purposes only.  Please watch the community for new firmware releases, and read the release notes for full details.

Go ahead and log into your WNR3500L over your network by typing in 192.168.1.1 into your browser (or whatever IP address you chose.)  You'll need to type in your administrator username and password, and you'll be brought into the NETGEAR standard firmware.  Look at the links on the left, and click "Router Upgrade."

You'll be brought to the screen that you see above, where you are able to either update the standard firmware over the Internet, or manually choose a firmware to flash to the router.  You'll want to click the "Browse" button and select the DD-WRT firmware.  Once this is done, click "Upload."

You may be asked if you want to continue, something similar to the screen shown above.  For OpenWRT, I did not see this screen, but if you do - select "Yes."

Once you proceed, the firmware update will begin.  DO NOT power down your router or otherwise mess around with the flash... if you perform a bad flash, you may have to debrick the WNR3500L (and that is a much more detailed process than this.)  Also, it takes a bit longer than a minute and a half like it states; patience is a virtue.  Wait for it to finish completely.

A Quick Tour of OpenWRT for WNR3500L

Once Tomato is finished loading, you may want to reboot your router just to be sure.  Then, access the OpenWRT GUI through 192.168.1.1.  You'll have to set your initial password; login is "root."


Similar to DD-WRT, you will navigate through the firmware's GUI by the navigation bar at the top.

One of OpenWRT's hallmarks is a built in CPU and traffic monitoring graph.

The Status option is filled with extensive options and diagnostic features for your router, to see the nuances of what is going on everywhere, including active modules and processes.

Through the "Network" tab, you can set basic and advanced settings.  Here, I can change the SSID and encryption type for my wireless network.  Note: The current build of OpenWRT as of the writing of this article only supports WEP encryption.

Moving Forward

As you probably could have guessed, OpenWRT is loaded with customization options and some unique features to really unlock the power of your WNR3500L.

As stated before, the current build is experimental and due to missing features and potential security risks, probably not recommended for daily use at this point.  However, the future of OpenWRT for the WNR3500L is bright and I can't wait until a stable, final release is available.

I hope you enjoyed your sneak peek of this upcoming firmware.  If you have any issues or questions, don't hesitate to post them on the forums, and make sure to watch the community as well as our Twitter account for firmware updates and news.

Quick Links

Erez
Erez's picture
thanks

thanks

Was not too difficult to install openwrt on th WNR3500L (took some time though to find the default username and password to get to the original webif)

however, as the device has a usb port, it would be nice to be able to use storage on the usbport instead of the internal flash.
i tried the instructions in https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=24138
however couldn't find pkg block-extroot.

i tried adding some code using pivot_root under /etc/preinit and /etc/preinit.arch but that didn't work either

i would appreciate some more instructions on how to boot from an external drive.

also, it would be nice to know how to add a DMZ port

(all related to openwrt)

thank,
erez

Vlatko
Vlatko's picture
I have found that this

I have found that this OpenWRT image for WNR3500L basically works. Keyword is basically. For example, you have to edit /etc/hostapd.conf and not /etc/config/wireless. ALso, WPA2 support worked, but only for single client. If I had two of them - it did not work at all any more. With dd-wrt I did not have such problems.

I would say that openwrt support is still shaky and that Official OpenWRT is still not supporting WNR3500L as it can be seen on trac:
https://dev.openwrt.org/ticket/7198

Orionsune
Orionsune's picture
I don't understand, this

I don't understand, this guide shows that after installing the OpenWRT firmware then a GUI is available. I have no GUI, just ssh. I used the firmware imaged linked from this guide. Have I done something wrong?

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