Upgrading A New RT-AX86U to Merlin FW

curlysir

Occasional Visitor
Have a new RT-AX86U on the way to replace a RT-AC86U that a very close lightening strike knocked out the WAN port. The lightening also took out the port on the Internet Provider Modem that I had the router connected to.

Is there anything I need to be aware of or do before I upgrade the FW to the latest Merlin FW? My plans are to install the Router behind my Internet provider modem just like I had the RT-AC86U and get the network up and running on all computers before I upgrade, or should I upgrade first? Or does it make any difference. I don't remember having any problems upgrading the RT-AC86U but that was 4 years ago.
 

curlysir

Occasional Visitor
I would hook up the new router and make sure it's working as intended first. If so then go ahead and flash the latest Merlin build do a factory reset and set up from scratch. You should be good to go.
Thanks for the reply, That is the direction I was headed.
 

curlysir

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for the recommendations and advice. Router should be here today. Plan to install and leave Asus FW installed until I get everything up and running. Then will update to Merlin FW.

Will read the links suggested.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Then will update to Merlin FW.

You mean downgrade to Asuswrt-Merlin. Current official Asuswrt 386.49599 is newer and there is already 388.20477 beta for your AX86U with VPN Fusion, Wireguard and some LAN/WAN configuration features from Asuswrt-Merlin. Official Asuswrt firmware on 388 code base will be released in perhaps less than 2 months. You may have to wait quite a bit for 388 base Asuswrt-Merlin. If you don't need specific Asuswrt-Merlin features, stay on Asuswrt. If you do need Asuswrt-Merlin features, I find 386.5_2 version the best 386 base release so far. Your choice, of course.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
You mean downgrade to Asuswrt-Merlin. Current official Asuswrt 386.49599 is newer and there is already 388.20477 beta for your AX86U with VPN Fusion, Wireguard and some LAN/WAN configuration features from Asuswrt-Merlin.
You probably know better than comparing two different firmware by a single number alone. Asuswrt-Merlin has newer versions of OpenVPN, already has the DNS over TLS that 388 adds, already has a more flexible VPN routing policy management in VPN Director than VPN Fusion, and so on. So that newer GPL would be a downgrade for anyone who is more interested in OpenVPN than anything else that bigger number would bring in.

People need to stop talking about "A is newer than B and therefore better", and look at the actual details. It's not about one being newer than the other, its about having two separate, parallel alternatives.
 

curlysir

Occasional Visitor
You probably know better than comparing two different firmware by a single number alone. Asuswrt-Merlin has newer versions of OpenVPN, already has the DNS over TLS that 388 adds, already has a more flexible VPN routing policy management in VPN Director than VPN Fusion, and so on. So that newer GPL would be a downgrade for anyone who is more interested in OpenVPN than anything else that bigger number would bring in.

People need to stop talking about "A is newer than B and therefore better", and look at the actual details. It's not about one being newer than the other, its about having two separate, parallel alternatives.

There will be no hesitation on my part to use your FW. I consider it an upgrade regardless of the version number, I have not run an Asus FW on any of my Asus routers except for when they were new in many years. I will have 3 routers on your FW when I switch the new one over once I get it up and running. This will be my 6th router with your FW that I have used, never had any problems that were related to your FW.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
You probably know better than comparing two different firmware by a single number alone.

Yes, I do. I'm talking about Asuswrt code base and this is the foundation of Asuswrt-Merlin. DoT is available in later 386 base Asuswrt as well. DDNS external IP detection is available too for folks in Double NAT. VPN Fusion in 388 has easier interface than VPN Director for non-tech people and perhaps enough features for most users. Pi-hole users are happy with 388 with the new LAN settings. Wireguard in Asuswrt-Merlin is custom script supported, but GUI integrated in 388. This is where I'm coming from and @curlysir may get the features he needs faster by staying with Asuswrt. Asus App users are happier with Asuswrt as well*. AiMesh works as described by Asus in Asuswrt only, tricks have to be applied with Asuswrt-Merlin. Not a single number comparison. I like both alternatives, but your cooperation with Asus actually makes Asuswrt better and Asuswrt-Merlin less "needed".

* - Asus App forces new firmware notification in Asuswrt-Merlin even if new firmware check is disabled.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
In this case you know what do you need. I test, compare and share what I see. This is what I use my Asus routers for.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Yes, for the most part Asus App works the same way with Asuswrt-Merlin with exception of some Asuswrt specific features. Ideally you have to read Asus App update notes and know the differences between the two firmware alternatives. For example, I wouldn't mix Asuswrt-Merlin DNSFilter with Asus App Safe Browsing feature and everything VPN related I would do in Asuswrt-Merlin GUI and not touch Asus App settings.
 

curlysir

Occasional Visitor
Got the new Internet Provider Modem installed today by them. Connected new RT-AX86U and it updated to latest Asus FW, got system up and running with everything connected and appearing to be running good. Network stable. Uploaded to latest Asuswrt-Merlin FW 386.7_2. Have not done a factory reset as everything appears to be stable and running smoothly.

So, I am back to where I was last week before the lightening hit except for a new Router. So far I really like the new router. Still playing with some of the settings but not going to do much tinkering for a day or two.

Old RT-AC86U headed to the trash shortly. Out of warranty and about only use right now is as a paperweight.

Thanks everybody for their input, it was appreciated.
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Old RT-AC86U headed to the trash shortly.

It can be re-used as Wireless Bridge, or what is called Media Bridge in Asuswrt. AC 4-stream radio with 1024QAM can do >2Gbps link speed.
 

128bit

Regular Contributor
. . . not to be controversial but i too prefer to start with the stock fw. call me emotional, but right out the box, i want to see how it works, as designed/released, if you will. once there's a comfort level with the base code and i feel a warranty issue is unlikely, i infuse some merlinware.

i truly prefer merlinware and get it somewhat. many of you are technically way over my head. like curlysir, i recently mothballed my ac86u and am psyched about the ax even though it's overkill for my situation. i recently migrated to its internal openvpn feature and jettisoned the vpn app. much improved performance now, with control, btw.

for me at least, this is a very complex box and at $250+, it ain't cheap. so i understand the apprehension. i have great appreciation for the fine work by all involved with this project. very impressive! great work
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I was once in the camp of 'test with stock first', but in the whole time I've been using RMerlin firmware, I haven't needed to use stock over his firmware, even once. Even for the simplest network configurations and with minimal features/options and scripts enabled/running.

When you train for a race, you do so best by training in that actual sport, and not by learning to swim via YouTube. ;)

If hardware is bad, it will show whatever firmware you're running on it. Sure, go ahead and flash it back to stock for a sanity check before you return it. But testing stock before using the firmware you want to use is not a great use of resources.
 

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