[OpenWrt-Devel] project: online image and sysupgrade builder

Yury Shvedov yshvedov at wimarksystems.com
Wed Sep 5 03:16:40 EDT 2018

On 09/04/2018 11:32 PM, Paul wrote:
> Hi all,
> some time ago I stumbled over the two difficulties for new users:
> * Finding the initial firmware to flash a router
> * Upgrade a modified image without reinstalling all packages
> For this reason I created an *image on demand server*[0] which fetches
> ImageBuilders and creates the desired image, allowing the modification
> of installed packages and uci-defaults (if desired) via a simple API[1].
> The images are build within seconds and offered to the user.
> While the project was initially created to simplify sysupgrades the
> service is mostly used with a *online ImageBuilder* fronted[2]. About
> 3000 firmware images where created over the last 6 month (some database
> resets dilute the statistics).
> I was wondering if this service could eventually become somewhat
> officially used. It offers a great simplification for user to get
> started with OpenWrt and also keep devices up to date.
> Next steps would be two allow multiple builders in parallel [3] and use
> ucert [4] to establish a trust chain. While build logs already contain
> all required information to "rebuild" (and verify) the image locally,
> sqaushfs needs to become reproducible[6] before it makes real sense.
> Please share your thoughts regarding this project, I'd be happy to
> receive some feedback!
> Sunshine,
> Paul
> [0] https://github.com/aparcar/attendedsysupgrade-server
> [1] https://github.com/aparcar/attendedsysupgrade-server#api
> [2] http://as-test.stephen304.com/chef/
> [3] https://github.com/aparcar/attendedsysupgrade-server/pull/126
> [4] https://git.openwrt.org/?p=project/ucert.git;a=summary
> [5]
> https://as-test.stephen304.com/download/openwrt/18.06.1/ar71xx/generic/archer-c7-v2/ba5cbe70ba1237b//buildlog-26ac67a4132b017.txt
> [6]
> https://git.openwrt.org/?p=openwrt/staging/lynxis.git;a=commit;h=1ad9d341434e6cf123213928d9a2e86ceec59c55
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Hi Paul!

This is a great step toward the user friendliness. But as I know the 
major difficulty for users who far from embedded system is to flash the 
board from original firmware. Sometimes there is very tricky process, 
sometimes there is huge red warning of the third word war in case of 
installing non-official firmware, etc. So as I think, sometimes user who 
can not find the wiki-page with device or build their own firmware with 
ImageBuilder could stuck on this step.

For others, the set of packages is not the only way to customize the 
firmware. I don't tell about hand-created software but about the 
customization of packages (e.g. great list of busybox options or extra 
kernel modules). This is one of the shortage of ImageBuilder and the 
reason to use the BuildRoot more often. So maybe there is any sense to 
thought about *online BuildRoot* too? When it is warm enough it takes 
not much time to build a firmware for one board.

Regarding to clients. May be there is any reason to automate it more? 
I.e. allow user to configure it to sysupgrage at night when the new 
service release is out?

This was just thoughts as you ask. May be I was wrong in some cases, 
please correct me then.

P.S. I mentioned the tricky process for flashing from original firmware. 
Maybe there is any reason to automate building of additional software 
for desktops? I.e. there is many scripts for flashing mikrotik devises, 
so why not to build deb packages in the BuildRoot, which will rise dhcp 
server and flash boards automatically?

Kind regards,
Yury Shvedov
WiMark Systems

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