SSH access for newcomers

One of the methods to manage OpenWrt is using command-line interface over SSH. OpenWrt listens for incoming SSH connections on port 22/tcp by default. To “ssh into your router”, you can enter the following command in a terminal emulator using you router's LAN IP address that is typically

ssh root@

The first time you ssh into your router, you will probably see a warning about the RSA key fingerprint. If you are certain this is the address of your OpenWrt device, simply type yes and press Return. Then enter the password you have given to your router, or press Return if this is the initial setup. Here is an example session:

$ ssh root@                                          <== You type this
The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:4VbDA/MOc7inPiyllF5f0r3Q6iEx89ddKdhLGBovsiY.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes      <== and this
Warning: Permanently added '' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
root@'s password:                                    <== and the password here

BusyBox v1.28.4 () built-in shell (ash)

  _______                     ________        __
 |       |.-----.-----.-----.|  |  |  |.----.|  |_
 |   -   ||  _  |  -__|     ||  |  |  ||   _||   _|
 |_______||   __|_____|__|__||________||__|  |____|
          |__| W I R E L E S S   F R E E D O M
 OpenWrt 18.06.2, r7676-cddd7b4c77

root@OpenWrt:~#                                                 <== type next command here

To end your ssh session to your router, type exit and press Return.

The remainder of this page describes several terminal emulators that Windows, Linux, or macOS can use to access your OpenWrt device.

Note: To add a SSH public key to your OpenWrt device, see From the LuCI Web Interface

Windows Terminal or the legacy PowerShell, Command Prompt, ConHost, or WSL Bash choices are available. Third party programs such as PuTTY, MinGW (installed with Git), Cmder, SmarTTY, and WinSCP are also terminal emulators that can provide SSH into an OpenWrt router.

Windows Terminal, PowerShell, and Command Prompt allow using the SSH client. That client is now available by default, however if your version of Windows is older, you may follow this guide to enable SSH.

If you have installed a WSL distribution, the SSH client is usually preinstalled in there.

If you directly launch cmd.exe, powershell.exe or wsl.exe the legacy ConHost terminal will open. Otherwise, you can install the modern Windows Terminal from the MS store and select any of these shells from there.

  1. Open any of the above terminal emulators and write ssh root@ (“ssh” is the command, “root” is the OpenWrt user you are connecting to, and “” is OpenWrt default IP)
  2. There will be a message to accept a new key from the OpenWrt device, write “yes” and press Enter key.
    1. If for some reason you have reinstalled OpenWrt the device will have a different key and you get an error about key mismatch. The error will state what is the command line to copy-paste in your terminal to delete the old key and proceed. Do it and retry. If that does not resolve the error then you may need to delete C:\Users\yourusername\.ssh\known_hosts and try again.
  3. If you want to close the session, write “exit”.

The Windows optional SSH feature also includes SCP client (to open/edit/download/upload files in OpenWrt via SSH). Use google for SCP tutorials to learn how to use it. Otherwise, use WinSCP which is easier for SCP purposes.

Powershell provides SSH access.

The Windows Subsystem for Linux is a convenient way to run a Linux environment of your choice including most,command-line tools, utilities, and applications directly on Windows. For detailed steps of how to install WSL on Windows 10, refer to Microsoft's documentation:

PuTTY gives you command-line access to OpenWrt.

  1. Download PuTTY, get the 32bit putty.exe from the Alternative binary files section.
  2. Start putty.exe on your Windows client → PuTTY's login window pops up.
  3. go to the Session category of PuTTY's login window, look for the field Host Name (or IP address) and simply enter the IP-address (e.g. of your OpenWrt device, keep the default provided port 22.
  4. Click the Open button at the Bottom to open a connection. This will pop up a shell windows, asking to login as. Login as root with the OpenWrt password you have defined some time before. If you have not yet set a password yet on “root”, you will not be asked for the password.
  5. Done, you are logged into the OpenWrt command line.

Setting up key-based authentication.

  1. Generate a key pair using puttygen.exe. Save the private key to the PC and add the public key to /etc/dropbear/authorized_keys on your OpenWrt device.
  2. Connection → SSH → Auth: In the box “Authentication Parameters” under “Private key file for Authentication” state the path to your private key file for this connection (e.g. the openwrt.ppk file you created before). Best is to click “Browse...” and select the file via the file dialog.

Automating connections.

  1. Connection → Data: In the box “Login details” enter the “Auto-login username” which is root.
  2. Load, save or delete a stored session, enter openwrt.lan in Saved Sessions and click the Save button.
  3. To make a PuTTY shortcut with an automatic login, create one and append the saved session with an @ sign, for example call PuTTY with: putty.exe @openwrt.lan

WinSCP allows you to browse the OpenWrt file system in Windows Exlorer like GUI-style.

  1. Download WinSCP, get the non-beta Installation package or portable executables and install or unzip them on your Windows client
  2. Start WinSCP.exe on your Windows client, WinSCP's login window will pop up
  3. Click on New Site on the left, ensure File protocol is set to scp then enter your OpenWrt device IP address ( on the right side into Host name, keep the default port 22. In User name enter root, in Password, enter your root password (or leave blank, if you have not set a password yet)
  4. Click the Login at the bottom of the Window.
  5. Done. You now have an Exlorer-like view of your OpenWrt file system.

Editing OpenWrt config files with WinSCP's integrated GUI editor.

  1. To edit an OpenWrt config file with WinSCP's GUI-based editor, just right-click the file in WinSCP and select Edit from the context menu.

Cmder for Windows is an open-source terminal emulator that runs on Windows. It is free to use and provides an easy “command line shell” that allows you to ssh into OpenWrt. Its attractive fonts and color scheme are easy on the eyes. The Full distribution is preferred (over the mini distribution), since it provides a bash emulation, with a Unix-y suite of commands.

  1. Download Cmder.
  2. Unzip the file.
  3. Open the Cmder folder, and double-click the Cmder icon. You'll see a Cmder window open similar to the image below.
  4. To ssh into the OpenWrt router at, type ssh root@ then press Return.

SmarTTY gives you command line access to OpenWrt and allows you to open/edit/download/upload files in OpenWrt, and is overall more modern and user-friendly than PuTTY (another tool detailed below).

  1. Download SmarTTY, choose “download” for the installer, or “portable version” if you want it as a standalone program that works without installation.
  2. after installation or after unzipping the archive, doubleclick on SmarTTY executable file.
  3. You will be greeted by a window with two choices, doubleclick on “setup a new SSH connection” (the other option is for serial connections, for usb-TTL dongles and somesuch you connect to the device's debug serial pins on the board, we won't use that now).
  4. The window changes into the SSH setup, write the following info:
    1. Host name: OpenWrt device IP address (default is )
    2. User Name: root (this is the “administrator” and only user in default OpenWrt)
    3. Password: leave this blank for your first connection, then write the password you set up (either in Luci GUI or after your first SSH access)
  5. Click “Connect” button at the bottom, and you will now see a big terminal screen coming up
  6. A default OpenWrt firmware lacks the server component to allow you to open/edit/view/upoad/download files in SmarTTY, so after you have connected to the internet write opkg update && opkg install openssh-sftp-server to install it. If the next step fails, it might be necessary to reboot the OpenWrt device for this new service to start up properly.
  7. Now you can click on File → Open a Remote File to open a popup that shows the file system of the OpenWrt device, and you can navigate in it and open text files for example as normal (they will open in a SmarTTY text editor window)
  8. If you want to upload or download files to/from a specific folder in the device, you can click on SCP menu and choose the most appropriate action from there.

After the first time you connected to a device, SmarTTY saved a profile, so you can connect again to the same device (at that IP address with that password) by just doubleclicking its icon on the first window you see when starting SmarTTY. You can right-click on this profile icon to edit it again, if needed.

All Linux distributions provide a command-line ssh client as part of the default installation.

  1. Open a terminal emulator and write ssh root@ (“ssh” is the command, “root” is the OpenWrt user you are connecting to, and “” is OpenWrt default IP)
  2. there will be a message about accepting a new key from the OpenWrt device, write “yes” and press Enter key.
    1. If for some reason you have reinstalled OpenWrt the device will have a different key and you get an error about key mismatch. The error will state what is the command line to copy-paste in your terminal to delete the old key and proceed.
  3. if you want to close the session, write “exit”

Linux also usually has SCP/SFTP clients (to open/edit/download/upload files in OpenWrt), which may or may not be installed by default. You need to look up your distro's documentation or search with your package management interface for “scp” and “sftp” to find where it is and its current installation status. Read scp manual for the command line SCP client or google some tutorials to learn how to use it.

Midnight Commander is Norton Commander like file manager that works on Linux and macOS. You can access remote files on OpenWrt via mc:

  1. Press 'F9'
  2. Select 'Left' panel config
  3. Select 'Shell link'
  4. Input 'root@' and press OK
  5. Now you'll see list of files and directories in root of OpenWrt

Internally it works over scp like protocol FISH so it not needs for installed SFTP server.

On macOS (formerly Mac OSX) any terminal emulator will allow you to ssh.

  1. Terminal - The macOS built-in terminal program, find it in /Applications/Utilities.
  2. iTerm2 a much-enhanced terminal program, donation-ware - it's worth it.

To ssh into your OpenWrt router at, type ssh root@, then press Return.

On ChromeOS, the Secure Shell App will allow you to SSH.

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  • Last modified: 2022/08/05 19:30
  • by palebloodsky