Upgrade using Attended Sysupgrade

The Attended SysUpgrade (ASU) facility allows an OpenWrt device to update to new firmware while preserving the packages and settings. This dramatically simplifies the upgrade process: just a couple clicks and a short wait lets you retrieve and install a new image built with all your previous packages.

ASU eliminates the need to make a list of packages you installed manually, or fuss with opkg just to upgrade your firmware.

Because it is initiated by a person who waits until it's complete, it's called “attended” sysupgrade. You can see Attended Sysupgrade in action in a video from OneMarcFifty at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFTPA6GkJjg&t=1034s

There is both a LuCI (web page interface) and command-line package for Attended Sysupgrade.

The luci-app-attendedsysupgrade package provides a page in the router's web interface. It requests a new firmware image built with the current set of packages, waits until it's ready, then downloads and flashes the image. If “Keep Configuration” is checked in the GUI, the device preserves all the settings.

To install luci-app-attendedsysupgrade, go to System → Software, update the package list, and search for luci-app-attendedsysupgrade. Install it in the usual manner.

To upgrade your firmware:

  • Make a backup! Go to System → Backup/Flash firmware. Click Generate archive (Just do it. Every time...)
  • Go to System → Attended Sysupgrade. You'll see the main Attended Sysupgrade window
  • Click Search for sysupgrade You will see choices for the firmware version that are available.
  • Select the desired version from the dropdown, and click Request Sysupgrade
  • There may be a wait as the server builds a custom image that includes all the packages that are currently installed.
  • When that completes, you will see a window describing the new firmware:
    • If you wish to keep settings, check the box. Otherwise, settings will be erased and set to factory default.
    • Click Install Sysupgrade and the router will download the new image, flash it, and reboot.
    • You'll be running the new firmware, with all your packages and settings intact.

  This is the main window. Click Search for sysupgrade

  Choose one of the available releases and click Request Sysupgrade

  Verify the parameters of the newly-generated image,
choose Keep Settings (or not) and click Install Sysupgrade

The auc package performs the same process as the luci-app-attendedsysupgrade from SSH/the command line.

To install the auc package, ssh into the router and enter opkg install auc or in the web interface, go to System → Software, update the package list, and search for auc. Install it in the usual manner.

To upgrade your device firmware, first Make A Backup (see first step above) Then enter auc on the command line. The default is to get the next version. You can specify the following options on the command line.

root@openwrt.lan:~# auc --help
auc (0.2.4-8)
auc: Attended sysUpgrade CLI client
Usage: auc [-b <branch>] [-B <ver>] [-c] [-f] [-h] [-r] [-y]
 -b <branch>	use specific release branch
 -B <ver>	use specific release version
 -c		only check if system is up-to-date
 -f		use force
 -h		output help
 -n		dry-run (don't download or upgrade)
 -r		check only for release upgrades
 -F <fstype>	override filesystem type
 -y		don't wait for user confirmation

Please report issues to improve the server:
https://github.com/aparcar/asu/issues

Here are the details of each option.

Name Default Description
-b <branch> installed branch Search for updates on this specific branch. The value is a string containing a release branch name, 19.07 or 23.05, or the snapshot branch name, SNAPSHOT.
-B <ver> newest version on current branch Search for updates for this specific release version. Must be on the branch specified with -b or an error will be reported. If the branch is SNAPSHOT, then the only valid value for -B is again SNAPSHOT, and specifying the value is redundant.
-c false Perform all the steps to check if the system is up-to-date, then quit. If changes are found, then a list of the detected differences is shown, color coded so that you can see if packages are upgrading or downgrading with the target branch and version.

Since this is a completely non-destruction operation, running auc -c is a quick and safe way to see what changes have been released since your last sysupgrade.
-f false Force an upgrade, even when there are no changes detected.
-n false Perform a dry-run, by actually building the image, but then quit before download and install. Since the image is never downloaded, this is very much like -c in its local effect, but since it builds the image, you see all the error checking performed by the build server, too.
-r false Check only for release upgrades. Like -c, but ignores any package changes. This is a quick way to see if there is a “dot” release on the branch currently installed.
-F <fstype> current installed fstype, usually squashfs Build the image to override the current filesystem type. This is an advanced option, which can brick many devices, so use great care. On generic devices, like x86 or armsr, you can switch between squashfs and ext4 without issues.
-y false Assume 'yes' for all the user confirmation prompts and run to completion.

To use auc to check for new packages, or newer versions of the current branch, simply use the -c option. This is completely benign, as auc terminates after reporting what it sees without doing anything further. Using -c to experiment with the other options is a safe way to explore how auc works.

$ auc -c
auc/0.3.2-1
Server:    https://sysupgrade.openwrt.org
Running:   SNAPSHOT r24414-255d5c9bf8 on x86/64 (generic)
Available: SNAPSHOT r24414-255d5c9bf8
Requesting package lists...
 base-files: 1548-r24414-255d5c9bf8 -> 1549-r24427-c4fe1bfc65
 dnsmasq-full: 2.89-6 -> 2.89-7

By default, auc works on the branch currently installed on your device. The -b option can be used to change this behavior, so that you can upgrade or downgrade between release branches (like 19.07 or 23.05) or snapshot (where you just literally use snapshot as the value). The -B option can be used to select a specific version within a branch, such as 22.03.1 or 23.05.0.

This example detects that 23.05.2 is installed, and shows information related to downgrading to 22.03.4. As indicated by the warning, this is probably not a good idea as the jump in versions is “too far”, but you *can* use -B to downgrade within a branch pretty safely.

$ auc -c -b 22.03 -B 22.03.4
auc/0.3.2-1
Server:    https://sysupgrade.openwrt.org
Running:   23.05.2 r23630-842932a63d on x86/64 (generic)
Available: 22.03.4 r20123-38ccc47687
WARNING: Downgrade to older branch may not work as expected!
Requesting package lists...
 kmod-usb-storage: 5.15.137-1 -> 5.10.176-1
 terminfo: 6.4-2 -> 6.3-2
 openssh-sftp-server: 9.5p1-1 -> 9.3p2-1
 libopenssl: 3.0.12-1 -> 1.1.1w-1
 luci-app-statistics: git-23.315.63824-5a81162 -> git-23.153.53801-38f5b55
...

The ASU Server listens for image requests and, if valid, automatically generates them. It coordinates several OpenWrt ImageBuilders and caches the resulting images in a Redis database. If an image is cached, the server can provide it immediately without rebuilding.

The ASU Server provides an API to request custom firmware images with any selection of packages pre-installed. This avoids the need to set up a build environment, and makes it possible to create a custom firmware image even using a mobile device.

  • The current production ASU Server is sysupgrade.openwrt.org It provides released versions, release candidates, and the current nightly snapshot.
  • There is an development server at asu.aparcar.org that may or may not always be running
  • chef.libremesh.org is an old server name that currently is a CNAME to asu.aparcar.org
  • The OpenWrt Firmware Selector is a client of the ASU server, as are the LuCI web page and auc.

ASU relies on significant updates over the last several years to the ImageBuilder, primarily by @aparcar. Github repo

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  • Last modified: 2023/11/21 23:18
  • by efahlgren