Installing OpenWRT on a Linksys EA4500

Choosing a router to run OpenWRT on is a complex task... OpenWRT's Table of Hardware has the complete documentation on what models are supported and which are not. OpenWRT even provides a nice filter for their Table of Hardware of devices that are "Ideal for OpenWRT".

I chose the Linksys EA4500 for a variety of reasons: * Available on Amazon * Cheap (<=$40) * Gigabit Ethernet * USB Port (to attach additional storage) * All Known Model Variations/Versions Supported by OpenWRT (less risk of finding out that the version you were shipped is unsupported) * Backup Firmware - Devices stores two firmware images so if you flash a bad firmware, you're less likely to brick the device because it can fall back on the known good firmware.

I ordered a couple of "certified-refurbished" Linksys EA4500s from Amazon. Here's what I found in the box:

Box Contents

And a front picture of the router:

Front View

And the back of the router showing all of the ports and buttons:

Back View showing 4 LAN ports, 1 WAN port, USB, and power

I have a V1 device (as in it doesn't have a version marking on the bottom so it's version 1 by default). I tried several times to get OpenWRT to install, but each firmware flash attempt failed until I upgraded to the latest Linksys Stock firmware (v.2.1.42 at the time of this writing).

Important Information: The defaults you'll want to know for the installation are:

Name Value
Username admin
Password admin
IP Address

Upgrade to Latest Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Firmware

I'm not exactly sure why this is necessary, but the latest Linksys stock firmware probably includes some kind of bootloader updates that are needed for OpenWRT to work. The download of v2.1.42 at Linksys's website (the latest version as of authoring this article). Download the firmware before you attach to your EA4500.

Plug in to your router, open your web browser of choice (I was using Chrome), and go to location bar set to

You should be greeted by a login screen like this (if your router arrived with the same version that mine did):

Old Firmware Start Screen

Click on the "Continue with an open and unsecured network" link. It's nice that Linksys tries hard to make sure you know what you're starting out with an open, no-password network:

Old Firmware Warning Screen

It shold prompt you for a username/password at this point. The default username is admin and the default password is admin

One of my Linksys EA4500s came with firmware version 2.0.36 (pictured below).

Old Firmware Setup Page

Click on "Administration" from the top navbar, then "Firmware Upgrade" from the 2nd navbar. Then select the "Manual Upgrade" radio button.

Old Firmware Upgrade Page

Click "Choose File" and navigate to the new Linksys firmware file. The file I downloaded is called FW_EA4500_2.1.42.183584_prod.img and is about 23MB large. Here's the SHA256 hash if you want to verify your install:

10ef3208100e7b3c135d961e2ff03e61140ffcbb6afdf6c44bd2236db949bff2  FW_EA4500_2.1.42.183584_prod.img

Then click "Start Upgrade". The progress bar will go almost to 100% then the router should reboot. If all goes well (and it worked first time for me), you should see the current firmware login below:

Install OpenWRT (from the Linksys Firmware)

Navigate your web browser over to location bar set to

Login with "access router" code (a.k.a. password) admin login screen

Here's what my home page looked like on Linksys Firmware v2.1.42 Linksys router home page

Choose "Connectivity" from the left sidebar: Linksys router Connectivity settings page

Look on the right side for the "Firmware Update" box. Under "Manual", pick "Choose File" then choose the OpenWRT firmware image you downloaded (has the words kirkwood and viper in the name). Click "Start" when you're ready: Linksys Firmware Update with OpenWRT Ready to Flash

The device will reboot. Watch the light on the top. The stock firmware and bootloader do a nice slow fade of the light when loading. If OpenWRT flashed successfully, the slow fade in/out will quickly change to a bright fast flashing. Wait till the light goes solid (which indicates that booting is complete).

Connect to OpenWRT

OpenWRT's initial IP address is the same as Linksys: Open your browser and try to connect: location bar set to

OpenWRT's luci configuration page should display: default luci login page

Or, if you want to configure manually using the good ol' command-line, ssh as root to putty settings screen ready to connect to router

putty on first ssh to router

What's next?

Well, first thing... set a root password! Otherwise your device is effectively open to anyone to configure and manipulate! Run the passwd command at the command-line or follow the warning banner buttons in the luci web interface.

Next... Well that's up to you! I've got some suggestions here on this blog. Enjoy your OpenWRT box!

Contact Us