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I'm currently running 3 XT8s on 386.07_2-gnuton1 largely issue-free for several months now. It's been a godsend after encountering so many connectivity issues with the stock firmware.

My question is simple: if I'm not having any problems, is there a particular reason for me to upgrade to 388.1-gnuton1? From what I'm reading, it's a little bit of a hassle having to reset and rebuild everything after the update?
The XT8s are so finnicky when it comes to firmware's, I wouldn't even flash it if it's working great for you. I'm betting if you reflash the same firmware you already have, the XT8s will start to flake out and start dropping the nodes to 2.4GHz constantly,
Other than addressing bug fixes, adding new functions/features, updating internal programs/components that go through their own development lifecycles (like openvpn), security fixes, etc... if you are good with this, and accept the fact that eventually one or more of these components could cause a future breakage, then you can probably stay on this version for a good while. Also, regarding custom scripts -- if you run any of these, they will typically stop supporting older firmware after a while, which may prevent you from upgrading to newer versions of the script.
I would try the released recently Asuswrt 388_23012 instead. It's highly unlikely Asuswrt-Merlin fork made this XT8 system work better. It's the Asuswrt base used for this fork. Asuswrt-Merlin has nothing to do with Wi-Fi drivers or AiMesh. Both are closed source coming from Broadcom and Asuswrt.

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