Adding new device support

This article assumes your device is based on a platform already supported by OpenWrt. If you need to add a new platform, see →

If you already solved the puzzle and are looking for device support submission guidelines, check out Device support policies / best practices

  1. Make a detailed list of chips on the device and find info about support for them. Focus on processor, flash, ethernet and wireless. Some helpful tips are available on hw.hacking.first.steps
  2. Make sure you have working serial console and access to the bootloader.
  3. Prepare and install firmware, watch the bootlog for problems and errors.
  4. Verify flash partitioning, LEDs and buttons.

Most of devices use GPIOs for controlling LEDs and buttons. There aren't any generic GPIOs numbers, so OpenWrt has to use device specific mappings. It means we need to find out GPIOs for every controllable LED and button on every supported device.

If LED is controlled by GPIO, direction has to be set to out and we need to know the polarity:

  • If LED turns on for value 1, it's active high
  • If LED turns on for value 0, it's active low

A single GPIO can be tested in the following way:

cd /sys/class/gpio
echo $GPIO > export
echo "out" > gpio$GPIO/direction
echo 0 > gpio$GPIO/value
sleep 1s
echo 1 > gpio$GPIO/value
sleep 1s
echo $GPIO > unexport

Of course every GPIO (starting with 0) has to be tested, not only a GPIO 3 as in the example above.

So basically you need to create a table like:

Color Name GPIO Polarity
Green Power 0 Active high
Blue WLAN 7 Active high
Blue USB 12 Active low

To speed up testing all GPIOs one by one you can use following bash script. Please note you have to follow LEDs state and console output. If the USB LED turns on and the last console message is [GPIO12] Trying value 0 it means USB LED uses GPIO 12 and is active low.
BASE=$(cat /sys/class/gpio/gpiochip${GPIOCHIP}/base)
NGPIO=$(cat /sys/class/gpio/gpiochip${GPIOCHIP}/ngpio)
while [ $gpio -lt $max ] ; do
	echo $gpio > /sys/class/gpio/export
	[ -d /sys/class/gpio/gpio${gpio} ] && {
		echo out > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$gpio/direction
		echo "[GPIO$gpio] Trying value 0"
		echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$gpio/value
		sleep 3s
		echo "[GPIO$gpio] Trying value 1"
		echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$gpio/value
		sleep 3s
		echo $gpio > /sys/class/gpio/unexport
  • Save the above content as a file & then transfer inside router's /tmp directory, or copy above content & paste inside vi editor in router & save as file.
  • to make it executable, run: chmod +x /tmp/

In case of GPIO controlled buttons value changes during button press. So the best idea to find out which GPIO is connected to some hardware button is to:

  1. Dump values of all GPIOs
  2. Push button and keep it pushed
  3. Dump values of all GPIOs
  4. Find out which GPIO changed its value

For dumping GPIO values following script can be used:
BASE=$(cat /sys/class/gpio/gpiochip${GPIOCHIP}/base)
NGPIO=$(cat /sys/class/gpio/gpiochip${GPIOCHIP}/ngpio)
while [ $gpio -lt $max ] ; do
	echo $gpio > /sys/class/gpio/export
	[ -d /sys/class/gpio/gpio${gpio} ] && {
		echo in > /sys/class/gpio/gpio${gpio}/direction
		echo "[GPIO${gpio}] value $(cat /sys/class/gpio/gpio${gpio}/value)"
		echo ${gpio} > /sys/class/gpio/unexport
  • Save the above content as a file & then transfer inside router's /tmp directory, or copy above content & paste inside vi editor in router & save as file
  • to make it executable, run: chmod +x /tmp/

If GPIO value changes from 1 to 0 while pressing the button, it's active low. Otherwise it's active high.

Example table:

Name GPIO Polarity
WPS 4 Active low
Reset 6 Active low

For getting MAC addresses, EEPROM and other calibration data for your board, you may need to read from flash in the kernel. In the case of many Atheros chips using NOR flash, done using the KSEG1ADDR() macro which translates the hardware address of the flash to the virtual address for the process context which is executing your init function.

If you are reviewing the code for initializing a board similar to your own and you see this idium: KSEG1ADDR(0x1fff0000), the number at first appears to be magic but it is logical if you understand two things. Firstly, Atheros SoCs using NOR flash wire it to the physical address 0x1f000000 (there are no guarantees about where the flash will be wired for your board but this is a common location). You cannot rely on the address given in the bootloader, you might see 0xbf000000 but this is probably also a virtual address. If your board wires flash to these memory locations, you may obviously access flash using KSEG1ADDR(0x1f000000 + OFFSET_FROM_BEGIN) but in the event that you have to access data which you know will exist at the very end of the flash, you can use a trick to make your code compatible with multiple sizes of flash memory.

Often flash will be mapped to a full 16MB of address space no matter whether it is 4MB, 8MB or 16MB so in this case KSEG1ADDR(0x20000000 - OFFSET_FROM_END) will work for accessing things which you know to be a certain distance from the end of the flash memory. When you see KSEG1ADDR(0x1fff0000), on devices with 4MB or 8MB of flash, it's fair to guess that it's using this trick to reference the flash which resides 64k below the end of the flash (where Atheros Radio Test data is stored).

If you have the OEM sourcecode for your bcm63xx specific device, it may be useful some things for later adding the OpenWrt support:

  • Look for your Board Id at shared/opensource/boardparms/boardparms.c
  • Adapt the imagetag.c to create a different tag (see shared/opensource/inlude/bcm963xx/bcmTag.h in the GPL tar for the layout)
  • Finally xor the whole image with '12345678' (the ascii string, not hex).


For creating the OpenWrt firmware your bcm63xx device, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Obtain the source and follow the compile procedure with the make menuconfig as last step.
  2. During menuconfig select the correct target system.
  3. Next generate the board_bcm963xx.c file for the selected platform with all board parameters execute the following command:
    make kernel_menuconfig
  4. Add the board-id to the ./target/linux/brcm63xx/image/Makefile.
    	# Davolink DV2020	
    	$(call Image/Build/CFE,$(1),DV2020,6348)
  5. add the board-id with the parameters to ./build_dir/linux-brcm63xx/linux-
    static struct board_info __initdata board_DV2020 = {
            .name                           = "DV2020",
            .expected_cpu_id                = 0x6348,
            .has_uart0                      = 1,
            .has_pci                        = 1,
            .has_ohci0                      = 1,
            .has_enet0                      = 1,
            .has_enet1                      = 1,
            .enet0 = {
                    .has_phy                = 1,
                    .use_internal_phy       = 1,
            .enet1 = {	
                    .force_speed_100        = 1,	
                    .force_duplex_full      = 1,	
    static const struct board_info __initdat
  6. Finish the compile instructions according the procedure from the make step.

As long as you are adding support for an ramips board with an existing chipset, this is rather straightforward. You need to create a new board definition, which will generate an image file specifically for your device and runs device-specific code. Then you write various board-specific hacks to initialize devices and set the correct default configuration.

Your board identifier will be passed in the following sequence:

 (Image Generator puts it in the kernel command line)
 (Kernel command line is executed with BOARD=MY_BOARD)
 (Kernel code for ramips finds your board and loads machine-specific code)
 (/lib/ reads the board name from /proc/cpuinfo)
 (Several userspace scripts use ramips_board_name() for board-specific setup)

At a minimum, you need to make the following changes to make a basic build, all under target/linux/ramips/:

  • Add a new machine image in image/Makefile
  • Create a new machine file in arch/mips/ralink/$CHIP/mach-myboard.c where you register:
    • GPIO pins for LEDs and buttons
    • Port layout for the device (vlan configuration)
    • Flash memory configuration
    • Wifi
    • USB
    • Watchdog timer
    • And anything else specific to your board
  • Reference the new machine file in arch/mips/ralink/$CHIP/{Kconfig,Makefile}
  • Reference the new machine name in files/arch/mips/include/asm/mach-ralink/machine.h
  • Add your board to base-files/lib/ for userspace scripts to read the board name

Then you'll want to modify some of these files depending on your board's features:

  • base-files/etc/ to set a LED which OpenWRT should blink on bootup
  • base-files/lib/upgrade/ to allow sysupgrade to work on your board
  • base-files/etc/uci-defaults/network to configure default network interface settings, particularly MAC addresses
  • base-files/etc/uci-defaults/leds if you have configurable LEDs which should default to a behavior, like a WLAN activity LED
  • base-files/etc/hotplug.d/firmware/10-rt2x00-eeprom to extract the firmware image for the wireless module
  • base-files/lib/preinit/06_set_iface_mac to set the MAC addresses of any other interfaces

Example commits:

After add a new board, you may should clean the tmp folder first.

 cd trunk
 rm -rf tmp
 make menuconfig 

If you have added a device profile, and it isn't showing up in “make menuconfig” try touching the main target makefile

touch target/linux/*/Makefile
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  • Last modified: 2022/03/23 12:00
  • by aterik