Happy birthday to us

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RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Yesterday was Asuswrt-Merlin's 8th anniversary. The first release was on April 5th 2012.

I don't even remember what was in that release, since the changelog just says "initial release", with the April 15th release adding the WOL page (which is also the first feature I actually remember working on).
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
What were the early days like? You only joined the forum on April 14, 2012, at least as RMerlin...
I was homed on the Asus forums. These were fairly craptastic - they completely messed up my formating half of the time, forcing me to post, then re-edit my post to fix the formating. I was providing a compiled RT-N66U firmware, along with the files I was modifying in the stock firmware.

The initial days were mostly spent trying just to get the firmware to compile. I initially mostly wanted to add a WOL page to the firmware. I saw that there were numerous Tomato features that Asus were keeping disabled (like HTTPS support for the webui), so after that I started re-enabling some of these. Since that was a major focus of my work, and I was still looking for a name, one of the names I considered at the time was "Tomato Regrowth".

I caught Asus's attention fairly early on, and gradually established a relationship with them. First I was sending them bugfixes, and they would acknowledge me by name in their changelogs, which was quite flattering at the time :) They also started providing me with development samples starting with the RT-AC66U.

I moved to SNBForums because I could no longer deal with the problems of Asus's forums. Can't recall if at the time there already was an Asus-dedicated sub-forums (probably not), but I was mostly living in a single thread, like John's fork.

For the first 1-2 years, working with the firmware was much easier than today, as the vast majority of the code was open sourced. Only the drivers weren't. So, I could easily reuse any GPL release from other models (I remember for instance basing one of my releases on a DSL-N55U GPL release), as these were fully compatible regardless of the wireless driver I was using. Things started to change in this area a few months after the RT-AC68U launched, as they moved some of the initial bwdpi code (Asus's portion of the Trend Micro code) into closed source files.

Asuswrt-Merlin wasn't new territories for me as a software developer, since I had been involved in various software projects since the 90s, when I was developing software on the Amiga platform. My most popular project back then was probably NewIcons.

I learned a lot about working on embedded devices when I was involved in the WDLXTV project - a third party firmware aimed at various WDTV models. Upgrading Samba to a newer version was one of the things I did on this project, as well as redesign its web interface, and implement a plugin API. I also learned to work with RCS software back then (we were using SVN). I learned a LOT from b-rad, its main developer about hardware-related software development. The trick I used for instance to patch fq_codel support was something I picked up from him - replacing system binaries with scripts that can do any kind of stuff, then pass on control to the real binary that was expected by the closed source caller.


If anyone has any particular question about the early days, go ahead - I have a lot more spare time on my hands now that the initial rush of providing remote work support to my customers has quiet down...
 

Billy Chaney

Regular Contributor
I was homed on the Asus forums. These were fairly craptastic - they completely messed up my formating half of the time, forcing me to post, then re-edit my post to fix the formating. I was providing a compiled RT-N66U firmware, along with the files I was modifying in the stock firmware.

The initial days were mostly spent trying just to get the firmware to compile. I initially mostly wanted to add a WOL page to the firmware. I saw that there were numerous Tomato features that Asus were keeping disabled (like HTTPS support for the webui), so after that I started re-enabling some of these. Since that was a major focus of my work, and I was still looking for a name, one of the names I considered at the time was "Tomato Regrowth".

I caught Asus's attention fairly early on, and gradually established a relationship with them. First I was sending them bugfixes, and they would acknowledge me by name in their changelogs, which was quite flattering at the time :) They also started providing me with development samples starting with the RT-AC66U.

I moved to SNBForums because I could no longer deal with the problems of Asus's forums. Can't recall if at the time there already was an Asus-dedicated sub-forums (probably not), but I was mostly living in a single thread, like John's fork.

For the first 1-2 years, working with the firmware was much easier than today, as the vast majority of the code was open sourced. Only the drivers weren't. So, I could easily reuse any GPL release from other models (I remember for instance basing one of my releases on a DSL-N55U GPL release), as these were fully compatible regardless of the wireless driver I was using. Things started to change in this area a few months after the RT-AC68U launched, as they moved some of the initial bwdpi code (Asus's portion of the Trend Micro code) into closed source files.

Asuswrt-Merlin wasn't new territories for me as a software developer, since I had been involved in various software projects since the 90s, when I was developing software on the Amiga platform. My most popular project back then was probably NewIcons.

I learned a lot about working on embedded devices when I was involved in the WDLXTV project - a third party firmware aimed at various WDTV models. Upgrading Samba to a newer version was one of the things I did on this project, as well as redesign its web interface, and implement a plugin API. I also learned to work with RCS software back then (we were using SVN). I learned a LOT from b-rad, its main developer about hardware-related software development. The trick I used for instance to patch fq_codel support was something I picked up from him - replacing system binaries with scripts that can do any kind of stuff, then pass on control to the real binary that was expected by the closed source caller.


If anyone has any particular question about the early days, go ahead - I have a lot more spare time on my hands now that the initial rush of providing remote work support to my customers has quiet down...
If it wasn't for your FW, I probably wouldn't have an Asus Router. Thank you for everything you do.
 

Treadler

Very Senior Member
If it wasn't for your FW, I probably wouldn't have an Asus Router. Thank you for everything you do.
+1.

When I came to this forum, I didn’t know what firmware was, much less that it was perhaps a good idea to update/upgrade it.:confused:

Then came the ‘fear & trembling’ day, installing custom firmware! Woohoo!
There was no going back.......:cool:

Now, I can’t imagine a router not having optional DNSSEC, DoT, & the amazing range of scripts provided by contributors to this forum, not to mention the macro picture of stability/security features offered by Merlin.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
RMerlin, Congratulations! Your technical prowess is beyond reproach with these routers and I continue to be awed by the balanced approach and hard decisions you make on a daily basis regarding which feature to support or not, and why. And I'm sure I'll enjoy reading your responses to the questions the more technical among us will be asking you regarding the programming side of things. Not to mention your great contributions to Asus router hardware for almost the last decade (you really deserve a paycheque/dividends from Asus!).

I too would probably not be using an Asus router today if it wasn't for your involvement and contributions. With that original RT-N66U, which I bought and subsequently discovered your firmware and these forums through, it has been a great experience. I have learned a lot here while enjoying all the benefits of the best consumer routers available for many years now. So thanks once again.

My questions, are more on the personal side of things for you these past eight years. :)

Did you get married, have kids or become a grandfather in the meantime? What other personal milestones have you conquered. Were you always involved in programming/networking? Or did this develop into something bigger than you would have guessed at back then?

Thank you always for the wisdom and concise answers to our many never-ending questions. Not many would be able to keep doing what you do and still produce such great work every, single. time.

I raise my glass with the rest of us here and make a toast and three cheers to RMerlin. The firmware, the wizard, the man!

May your skies always be blue and your heart always light. With a smile on your face to keep your world ever bright. :)

-Barkeep! Another ale over here for our friend! :D
 

Amwjujo

Regular Contributor
Landed on this forum a few years back reading about your firmware.
Since then I've discovered a great community with great people and of course a great firmware .
Keep up the good working.
Thank you for your time and effort.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY
 

JDB

Very Senior Member
Happy Birthday!

Really enjoyed reading a bit of the early days back story.

Here’s to another 8 years!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

JIPG

Regular Contributor
Hello Eric,
Happy bithday! for you fantastic project.

For a lot of us, your are a kind of hero, as you do things that no so much people do.

Although your are far, we feel you very close thank you to our routers that allow us to be connected and to know things about your life, as for example with this thread.

These days, with the imposed confinement, we have to say, even more than ever, thank you for keeping our only link with the rest of the world working flawlessly.

I never though that a device as a router could be so important for us: through it, we can work from the distance, we have entertainment (TV, games, etc) , our children attend the school,
we can buy food or other things we need, and as summary, we can have fun without living our homes.

So thank you again for having the soul (SW) of our routers working so fine that I have had no fear to update today to the last FW (even having the family complaining about the risk :)).
 

Quoc Huynh

Regular Contributor
Happy birthday Asuswrt-Merlin, the greatest firmware that I've ever seen. Thank you so much for your hard work and passion to the firmware, as well as the forum. I really appreciate that!
 

Asad Ali

Very Senior Member
I was still looking for a name, one of the names I considered at the time was "Tomato Regrowth".
One question I've always wanted to ask, what's the story behind "RMerlin" and "Merlin" name in the firmware? as we all know it's not your real name. Feel free to pass if it's something personal. [emoji16]

And Happy Birthday!!!
 

martinr

Part of the Furniture
I’d like to push L&LD’s question a bit further back: how did you end up in this field of coding/networking/IT? I wonder if it all began with a birthday present of an early PC running MS-DOS?

And, talking of birthdays, let’s hope COVID-19 is a distant memory on the ninth birthday. (I wonder what a histogram of firmware downloads over those 8 years would look like, exponential and with no plateau in sight, I expect.)

Sincere thanks.
 

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