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Release Asuswrt-Merlin 388.1 is now available for all supported Wifi 6 models

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Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Staff member
Asuswrt-Merlin 388.1 is now available for all Wifi 6 (AX) models. This release marks the merge with the new 388 code base from Asus. I don't want to list every 388-specific changes made by Asus, so I recommend checking Asus' own changelogs for more details. I will highlight the most important ones below.

388.1 Release notes
This code base is only available for AX models, AC models will stay on the 386.x code base. Asus hasn't added any of these to their End-of-Life list as of now, so that means they will still get updates, just not as frequently. Most of these models being 5-7 years old now, having reduced support isn't unreasonable (as opposed to competitors typically completely dropping ALL support within 2-4 years). On my end, I currently don't plan to drop support for these AC models for the time being, but as with upstream updates, these older models will get less frequent updates from me as well.

388.1 is based on 388_21224, except for the RT-AX88U and GT-AX11000 which are based on a slightly older 388_20566 release.

New model supported
388.1 introduces support for the new RT-AX86U_Pro.

Feature changes
388 introduces a number of feature changes. Some of them were already available in Asuswrt-Merlin (like DNSSEC or DNS rebind protection support). Some of the new features are only available through the mobile application, which may or may not work with Asuswrt-Merlin - it is not officially supported by me. Anything related to OpenVPN for instance will not work properly, as Asuswrt-Merlin's OpenVPN implementation is completely different from the stock firmware. I have no control over the mobile application, so it is what it is in terms of compatibility.

The biggest user-facing change is the introduction of WireGuard support as an alternative VPN protocol. This implementation is developped by Asus, the only changes made were to integrate it with VPN Director (which is Asuswrt-Merlin's alternative to VPN Fusion), and to integrate it into the web interface (as we don't use Asus' VPN Fusion management interface). Note that while supported, I don't intend to make any major changes to the WireGuard implementation, as my development focus will remain with OpenVPN. One important limitation to note is that WireGuard requires NAT acceleration to be disabled, which greatly reduces its usefulness on a router, as if you have a fast enough WAN connection to truly benefit from WireGuard performance, that performance ceiling will most likely cap at around 300-350 Mbps due to the lack of NAT acceleration for your router's traffic.

WireGuard was fully integrated into VPN Director. WireGuard rules will have the lowest priority, which means they will be applied after the OpenVPN rules (which will be applied after any WAN rule, these having the highest priority). DNS handling will be identical to OpenVPN clients set to Exclusive mode, which means DNS servers configured for WireGUard clients will use firewall rules to force routed clients to use that DNS server. Also, by default, no traffic is routed through WireGuard, you need to configure rules in VPNDirector. This is identical to the stock firmware which requires you to create VPN Fusion rules to handle WireGuard client traffic.

Other 388 changes
388 also revamped the Parental Control settings a bit. The networkmap uses a new port status display (note that this seems to still be a bit quirky on some models, but that code is closed source and therefore outside of my control). This new display will tie in with Asus' new cable diagnostic feature, available on some models. There are also a few low-level changes made by Asus to improve reliability in general. Also, on newer HND 5.04 models (like the GT-AXE16000), they upgraded the amount of available nvram to 192 KB.

Other Asuswrt-Merlin specific changes
I tried to keep the other changes to a minimum for this first 388 release, to focus testing/debugging on the 388 code base itself. There were still a few internal changes made, for instance improvements around VPN Director, and a redesign of that page. Please see the changelog for details.

One thing worth mentionning is that I have decided to rebrand DNSFilter as DNS Director. There was no change in functionality. The name change was to avoid confusion with the company that bears the same name, and also to better describe what this feature does.

Also as an experiment, the ROG model archives (GT-xxxxx) contain a second firmware image with the _rog suffix added to the version. This is the same firmware compiled with the original ROG user interface enabled. Note that these images are provided as-is. I have fixed the most important display issues, however there may still be a few issues that remains, like the lack of any icon for the Tools menu (I don't have the artistic skills to create that icon). While I will monitor feedback, note that while I may fix issues, I don't plan on extending this interface any further. I may also decide to drop the experiment in the future, it will depend on the user feedback, and how much development time is required for future maintenance of this separate interface.

Note that after switching to a _rog version (or back to the regular version), you will need to either shift-reload the webui page, or clear your browser cache for the UI to load properly.

Upgrade procedure
You can directly upgrade from a previous Asuswrt-Merlin release. If coming from the original Asus firmware, note that while supported, you will need to reconfigure any existing VPN configuration after the upgrade. I implemented some upgrade code that will at least fix/prevent the most problematic issues, but if you notice any odd behaviour following the upgrade, be ready to do a factory default reset, and to manually reconfigure your router.

Please keep the discussion on the topic of this 388.1 release. Any off-topic post may possibly be ignored, moved, or deleted.

Downloads are here.
Changelog is here.
Do you usually make your own updates too or just use the stock firmware's updates.
Decided to do a clean flash for this. Sweet. I'll be rebuilding all the scripts tonight so I'll let you know how I get on.
Release the hounds! Upgrading the APs now. Will do my main router tonight to minimize family disruption. Great job @RMerlin and team!

Let's GO!

EDIT: RIP Uptime... we had a good run.


EDIT 2: Main router upgraded. So far so good. Web UI was a bit sluggish at the start. Expected from what I recall as it was fine a few minutes after. But all looks good inside. VPN Director settings good. New DNS Director looks good. Devices all reconnected, IOT, IPTV, Nest, TP-Link etc... all happy. Will give the whole system a reboot later and then let it settle.
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Do you usually make your own updates too or just use the stock firmware's updates.
A lot of the work done in Asuswrt-Merlin is done by me, on top of the GPL merges. VPN Director for instance is entirely my own development.

Almost everything I list in the Changelog is my own work (or comes from external contributors).
Updated all my routers from beta_4. No issues, everything is working as expected.
Had a good run but its time.


Thank you sir!
First thanks for the upgrade :)
Now question time - I am sorry if this is wrong here.

I have 300 Mps fiber to my ISP.
About 220 Mps with VPN (NordVPN) from my router - AX86U, OpenVPN

What is the better option - OpenVPN or Wireguard regarding speed and security?

If Wireguard is better, is there a how-to? Prefer GUI if possible.


First thanks for the upgrade :)
Now question time - I am sorry if this is wrong here.

I have 300 Mps fiber to my ISP.
About 220 Mps with VPN (NordVPN) from my router - AX86U, OpenVPN

What is the better option - OpenVPN or Wireguard regarding speed and security?

If Wireguard is better, is there a how-to? Prefer GUI if possible.


Stay with OpenVPN. Using WireGuard with NordVPN is a bit complicated, and I doubt you would gain much in terms of performance by switching to WireGuard.

Also, there are some hints that when using a tunnel provider, WireGuard might be less secure than OpenVPN in terms of information leaks. I saw a few mentions of this over the past few months. NordVPN's NordLynx actually tries to address this issue, but I don't know if their solution would work when running your own WG client rather than their proprietary client.
Just update my AX88U - Actually notice a slow web interface refresh...I don't know if is normal or not...
If I flash with iPV6 on, the wired clients do not connect....happened in the 388 betas as well. Turn off iPV6 and they connect. Once connected I can turn iPV6 on and off with no issues

Awesome work here,

I have AX86U as the main router and a AX56U as a mesh. upgraded both to 388.1_beta2 and now they are both stuck on beta2.
Tried to upgrade to beta3 and 4 with zero luck, Just tried to upgrade to 388.1 and same issue.

Upon using the web-UI after the firmware upload the routers reboot but comes back with the beta2 onboard.

Tried factory resetting but still stuck at beta2 firmware.

Any ideas greatly appreciated

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