Differences between firmware, GUI & OpenWrt (?)


I just had the time to play a bit with my new GL-MT6000 Flint 2.
I spent a lot of time trying to choose a router that is compatible with OpenWRT and yours seems great with very good support.
It seems that switching to plain OpenWRT is easy and safe and the uboot GUI makes everything nicer.

I started looking around at your GUI and it is pretty slick and then I went to Advanced Settings and discovered you've still kept the luci interface around.

I discovered you're running a snapshot of OpenWRT 21, but kernel versions doesn't seems to match.

So I checked newer Gl.iNet firmware and I've been a bit puzzled with descriptions, naming and kernel/OpenWRT releases.

4.6.0 with MTK SDK still report
OpenWrt 21.02-SNAPSHOT Linux GL-MT6000 5.4.238

Description and release notes of 4.6.0-op24, that I still haven't tried, says:

"Due to certain performance and compatibility issues with the open-source drivers for the model, firmware version 4.6.0 will utilize the MTK SDK to ensure a better user experience."
"This release is based on the OpenWrt main branch (from eea666d commit), kernel version 6.6.32"

I guess op24 stands for future OpenWRT 24 release, that doesn't look to be released soon.

I'm a dev too and I know how hard it may be to make a release plan and even harder to expose it to the public.

Still some more information, published it the right place, would make it easier to decide which firmware to pick up and how to deal with the luci interface in parallel with yours.

So here are the questions:

  • Is your UI just a layer on top of uci configuration file? So that if I make a change in your UI it will be reflected in uci and if I make a change in uci it will be reflected in your UI?
    And the disclaimer "It is provided as is. GL.iNet is not responsible for LuCI maintenance." just mean you won't feel bound to offer support?

  • can we get some more info on the difference in "performance and compatibility issues" and possibly hardware feature support between open-source drivers and MTK, to make a more informed choice between the two firmware?

  • it seems 4.6.0 is still stuck at OpenWRT 21 (is it?) Are we going to see an MTK based OpenWRT 23?


Yes and no. The GL GUI uses wrappers to modify the config files - so it's not like luci itself, which highly utilize the config files; it's more like a mixture. Not all settings (and changes) will be shown in the GL GUI.

luci is a 3rd party tool - so that's why no support can be offered.

Feel free to scroll through 2200 posts: Flint 2 (GL-MT6000 ) - bug reports - collective thread

From my feeling: Doesn't matter if you are a normal user with not pretty old devices.

Should I expect that when a corresponding uci config exists, GL GUI acts on it at least?
So that the common settings are kept in sync?

Yeah, I'm not expecting any support for (l)uci, I was concerned the 2 UI may conflict.

That's exactly what I'd like to avoid.
Somehow there is already a place where everybody is going to go to get informed about the offered firmware... and that is the firmware download page with the release notes.
GL.iNet devs already know how to answer succinctly my questions when they make available a new firmware.

I'm not that concerned about performances (or at least I think I won't run in any performance issue).
Compared to a default OpenWRT installation I'm currently running unbound and 2 OpenVPN instances and I have a dozen port forwards. I may add asterix. But I'm on a 200Mb connection.

I may move to a 2.5Gb connection with 5G failover.

But it would be nice to have a summary of the current status of the difference between MTK and open-source firmware and an rough idea of where those firmware are going.

The op24 seems to follow the dev branch of OpenWRT. It may not get stable for 1 more year and it may get even harder to guess when open-source driver will be on par with MTK.

On the other side the MTK versions seems stuck at OpenWRT 21, not 22, nor 23. So the path to a more recent OpenWRT version doesn't seem clear either.

I'm speculating that in terms of "features" the only thing I'm going to miss is GoodCloud.
There are packages for Adguard, Zerotier and Tailscale in stock OpenWRT too.
GL UI seems to make easier to manage VPN policies.

That kind of info would make much easier to chose which firmware to install and which upgrade path to envision.

In a couple of days, if I find the time I'd place my bet, and pick one among beta and op4, but I think I wouldn't be the only person that would appreciate to easily find in the firmware download section these info.

BTW I've no expectations I just think it would make many clients and potential clients happier.


In that case, you should go with plain OpenWrt anyway.
Multiple VPN servers are not supported, and multiple VPN routing isn't supported as well.

So as soon as you want to do some more advanced routing, go plain OpenWrt without GL GUI.
Due to the GL wrappers, they might destroy luci config.

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I just unplugged the router... so I can't check right now but if I remember right you can upload more than one .ovpn file using the GL UI, so even in the case of a openvpn server you could start more than one instance of OpenVPN with different routing config (and keys etc...) provided you upload everything via ssh.

Probably what's not going to work is the UI for the VPN policy.

I'll check tomorrow.

But well let's go with the op24 firmware then... one of the main advantages I'd appreciate more would be... I'm already familiar with openwrt UI (web and cli) and it is easier to semi-clone cfg across devices.

Yep, you can upload multiple files but only run instance at once. They are wrapped around some scripts which will make it painful to manually spin up multiple servers.