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2018 in review

Discussion in 'Asuswrt-Merlin' started by RMerlin, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2012
    Messages:
    30,628
    Location:
    Canada
    The year in review
    We're getting close to the end of 2018. The Asuswrt-Merlin project had its 6th birthday last April, and is still going strong. The move to the new 382 (now 384) codebase was completed. With that move we bid farewell to the RT-N66U and RT-AC66U, as was originally planned. We also had to leave the RT-AC56U behind later on, as Asus has now put it on their official End of Life list, meaning there won't be any further firmware updates from them. Since it's impossible for me to support a router without updated GPL releases from Asus, that means the RT-AC56U had to be dropped.

    2018 also brought a new member to the family, the RT-AX88U. Based on a slightly updated version of the software platform used for the RT-AC86U, supporting that model required me (for the time being) to develop it somewhat in parallel of the other models, as Asus's firmware for that model is from a separate firmware branch. Once again I must thank Asus for providing me with a development sample, which has now replaced the RT-AC88U as my primary router at home. Just like its RT-AC86U sibbling, this router is a beast when it comes to VPN performance. Overall, this is a very nice model, it's only major drawback at this point is its high price.

    The past year was mostly spent keeping in sync with Asus's own releases, and adding support for the new RT-AX88U. New feature development still remained a very low priority (as was planned), emphasis being put on merging new GPL releases, fixing known issues, and polishing various aspects of the firmware. The OpenVPN support received a lot of attention this year. That doesn't mean that people didn't get to play with new features, with Asus adding support for IFTTT, Alexa, IPSEC and Let's Encrypt. The third party developer community has also brought us their own implementations for new emerging technologies such as DNS-over-TLS. Existing projects such as Skynet and Diversion (formerly ABSolution) kept improving, and John's fork still is actively developed, providing support for owners of older models such as the RT-N66U.

    One important change this year worth mentioning is the move from the obsolete ez-ipupdate to the actively maintained In-a-Dyn DDNS client, something I had been considering for a long time, but never found the time and will to get started. It required re-implementing Asus's own DDNS service as a plugin for it, and also ensuring proper support for all the previously available services. The change allows Asuswrt-Merlin to finally use HTTPS when sending DDNS update queries, in addition to making it easier for users to support a large number of additionnal DDNS services through custom config files (often without the need for any complex script).

    One thing that changed this past year is how I obtain the GPL releases from Asus, getting them directly from them now instead of the support site. It usually means I get them a day or two before they appear on the website, and also I no longer need to constantly monitor a bunch of support pages to discover the availability of new GPL releases. This saves me a good amount of time.

    In summary, 2018 saw the release of 11 separate releases (including the final 380.70 release). The user base seems to have increased, as traffic hitting the firmware update notification server have reached close to 150,000 unique users (!).


    What's ahead for 2019?
    I don't have any real concrete plan laid down at this time. I am currently working on 384.9, which should hopefully see the 384_45149 GPL being merged in (I only have two models done so far, the other GPLs only got released very recently and haven't been merged in yet). Beside the GPL update, 384.9 is shaping to be mostly a bugfix release. Things can still change however, as I am still in the early development stages of this release. The 384_45149 release from Asus resolves a few issues, but unfortunately introduces a number of new ones, so the situation will have to be evaluated during the course of the 384.9 development cycle.

    Beyond that, the focus will most likely remain on keeping the codebase in sync with Asus's future releases, and doing the usual amount of polishing and bug hunting here and there. I intend to keep an eye on how the DNS over TLS technology is evolving to determine at some point if it's worth implementing or not.

    The RT-AC3200 and RT-AC87U support has recently been in limbo, as Asus hasn't provided updated releases for a few months now, and they seem to have greatly reduced the release frequency for these two. I recently managed to obtain updated pre-compiled components from Asus, which I am gonna experiment with. If it works well, this might allow me to provide more frequent updates to these two models, by going to them to obtain these required binary objects. Things are a bit tricky however, as my firmware is based on a different code base (384) than what these two models officially support (382). If Asus doesn't migrate these to the 384 code base in the future, I might eventually reach a point where supporting these will no longer be realistically doable. We'll see how the situation evolves throughout 2019.

    In closing
    I want to thank the community for their interest in this project, and also for taking care of most of the end-user support, freeing me to focus on the development work. A special thank you to those who donated through Paypal, or contributed with code patches and bug reports. As always, I want to thank @thiggins for once again letting us borrow a corner of his forums. And finally I want to thank Asus who keep supporting this project in various ways, including providing me with development devices.

    Have a great holiday, and a happy new year!
     
    WillPanic, redbird71, Rango and 122 others like this.
  2. JoGi

    JoGi Occasional Visitor

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    thanks for your hard work and great firmware.
    Have a great holiday and happy newyear
     
  3. Katmeat

    Katmeat New Around Here

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2016
    Messages:
    5
    You are the best, Eric!
     
  4. hervon

    hervon Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2014
    Messages:
    67
    Great to see Asus treats you better providing GPL releases earlier. I guess they finally understand that most of us only bought their routers thanks to your awesome work. Thanks!
     
  5. jerry6

    jerry6 Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Montreal
    Thabk you for all the work you put in to keep the FW updated . Have a happy holidays and a great new year
     
  6. amplatfus

    amplatfus Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2016
    Messages:
    185
    Location:
    RO
    You are the best, Eric!
    Great Firmware, great community!

    Happy New Year to all!
     
    Darcy likes this.
  7. ratte61

    ratte61 New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    7
    also thanks for your hard work !
    you are the greatest !!!
     
    amplatfus likes this.
  8. JaimeZX

    JaimeZX Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    199
    Great rundown; thanks for the info! FWIW, I emailed Asus about lack of firmware updates for the 3200; they said one should be out in the next few weeks. We'll see if they're lying. ;)
     
  9. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    30,628
    Location:
    Canada
    A PM also told me that they had a security update on the way for the RT-AC3200.
     
    JaimeZX and ubimea like this.
  10. Gar

    Gar Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2018
    Messages:
    372
    Location:
    US
    Thanks for the awesome work!
     
  11. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
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    Location:
    Marmaduke Ar.
    Thank you for all your hard work and to @thiggins and all the others at SNB for putting up with us.
     
  12. wesbez

    wesbez Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    93
    Great work as always Eric. We all appreciate what you do and you are the reason I buy ASUS routers. Got my 86u this year and it’s been a beast for me.

    Please can others show their appreciation with small donation if they can afford it.
     
  13. Jugnu

    Jugnu Occasional Visitor

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2018
    Messages:
    15
    Too late for me to say HAPPY CHRISTMAS, so HAPPY NEW YEAR in advance. Looking forward towards the latest updates for RT-AX88U in the near future. Thanks for all the great work.
     
  14. AntonK

    AntonK Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    230
    Thank you for everything, RMerlin! Have a nice New Year!
     
  15. JGrana

    JGrana Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Messages:
    213
    As part of the “extended features” community, thanks for the great work.
    Due to your efforts, my router backs up my family photos and updates one of my Kodi apps with the latest nightly - all while I am sound asleep :)
     
    amplatfus likes this.
  16. czekker

    czekker New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
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    Location:
    .pl
    Thanks for everything - love your work :D
    Wish you all the best for the 2019 !!
     
  17. scjr

    scjr Very Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2017
    Messages:
    594
    Location:
    "While I Breathe, I Hope"
    I was deciding between an Asus and Netgear router just over a year ago. I went with Asus, because of Merlin’s firmware. 150,000 unique users. I’m one of them.

    Hopefully Asus is thankful that this awesome project generates so much interest and many sales of their routers. I specifically like that this project is very security minded. Thank you Eric, for making your project available to the community!
     
    wesbez and amplatfus like this.
  18. kernol

    kernol Regular Contributor

    Joined:
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    192
    Location:
    South Africa
    Like I said in my very first post - without Eric and his Merlin Magic - my RT-AC5300 would have been consigned to the trash bin!
    Great to see Asus acknowledging your efforts Eric ... just hoping that more of the 150,000+ Merlin users make the effort to make 2019 more financially rewarding for you.

    Accolades are pleasing - but donations are rewarding ;).

    Best wishes for 2019 and beyond.
     
    wesbez likes this.
  19. Quoc Huynh

    Quoc Huynh Regular Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
    Messages:
    56
    Thank you for your dedicated and wonderful work, Eric! Wish you all the best for the New Year :)
     
  20. GHammer

    GHammer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2015
    Messages:
    203
    I like a review/preview of any project I use or contribute to.
    Thanks to all who enable this project to continue forward.
    Special appreciation to Merlin. It takes not only ability in programming, but a hard to find patience to deal with users.