OpenWrt gets update in face of FCC's anti-flashing push

Wi-Fi flashware tips a glass to calm the chaos

The open router Linux disto OpenWrt, 15.05 “Chaos Calmer”, has hit the intertubes.

One highlight of the release is an update to Version 3.18 of the Linux kernel, and security has been upgraded with ed25519 package signing support, and support for jails and hardened builds.

However, the big news – at least according to the project's announcement – is a “fully writable filesystem with package management”.

This, OpenWrt explains, gives users different options for installation and customisation. Instead of having to use a vendor's application and selection framework, OpenWrt can now be configured using developer-supplied applications.

“OpenWrt is the framework to build an application without having to build a complete firmware”, the announcement says, while users get “full customisation [to] … use the device in ways never envisioned”.

That almost sounds like a challenge to America's Federal Communications Commission, which late in August issued a proposed rule-making that would demand Wi-Fi “lock down”.

The proposed regulation, here, specifically proposes requiring Wi-Fi vendors to lock down their firmware and names OpenWrt as a problem.

As the rule states, vendors selling kit in America would have to answer “What prevents third parties from loading non-US versions of the software/firmware on the device? Describe in detail how the device is protected from “flashing” and the installation of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT”.

The FCC's concern is that third-party firmware lets end users fool around with their wireless settings, and in careless (or malicious) hands, that could end up with a Wi-Fi router operating outside its radio spectrum certification.

Back to OpenWrt Chaos Calmer: its device support has now passed 950 products from 159 vendors, with new devices added from Mediatek, Marvell, Broadcom, Freescale, AllWinner and Raspberry Pi.

The release is named after a cocktail, apparently, but The Register's networking desk has neither gin nor Grenadine syrup on hand to test it. ®

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