6. Troubleshooting

6.1. Failsafe mode

If you've broken one of the startup scripts, firewalled yourself or corrupted the jffs2 partition, you can get back in by using OpenWrt's failsafe mode. To get into failsafe, plug in the router and wait for the DMZ led to light then immediately press and hold the reset button for 2 seconds. If done right the DMZ led will quickly flash 3 times every second.


( /!\ holding the reset button before the DMZ led can reset NVRAM )

When in failsafe, the system will boot using only the files contained within the firmware (the squashfs partition) ignoring any changes made to the jffs2 partition. Additionally, various network settings will be overridden forcing the router to

If you want to completely erase the jffs2 partition, removing all packages you can run firstboot.

If you want to attempt to fix the jffs2 partition, mount it with the following commands:

$ mtd unlock /dev/mtd¼
$ mount -t jffs2 /dev/mtdblock¼ /jffs

After the partition is mounted, you can edit the files in /jffs. If you run firstboot with the jffs2 partition mounted, it will not format the partition, but it will overwrite files with symlinks. (Packages will be preserved, changes to scripts will be lost)


Note: if you cannot figure out how to put your device into failsafe mode then remember that you can always modify the boot scripts in the source. So if you want to boot failsafe mode, you might edit your buildroot/build_mipsel/rootætc/preinit to something like this:

mount none /proc -t proc              
mount none /tmp -t ramfs
export FAILSAFE=true                  
exec /sbin/init         

Build a new image by typing make in the buildroot directory, install the modified firmware and boot the device. This forces your device to boot in FAILSAFE every time. So in order to boot in normal mode, you'll have to undo the changes you've made to the preinit file

ASUS WL-500G units seem to respond only on the WAN port when booted in failsafe mode.

6.2. Resetting to defaults

If you're having trouble setting up some feature of your router (wireless, lan ports, etc) and for some reason all of the documentation here just isn't working for you, it's sometimes best to start from scratch with a default configuration. Sometimes the various firmwares you try will add conflicting settings to NVRAM that will need to be flushed. Erasing NVRAM ensures there aren't any errant settings confusing your poor confused router. Run this command to restore your NVRAM to defaults:

$ mtd erase nvram
$ reboot

This will clear out the NVRAM partition and reboot the router, the bootloader will create a new NVRAM partition with default settings after the reboot. Remember to set boot_wait back on after you reboot your router -- trying to do it before rebooting will just write your old settings (cached in memory) back to the flash.

To reset changes you've made to the OpenWRT filesystem, run

$ firstboot

If firstboot is run while the jffs2 filesystem is mounted (eg. non-failsafe mode) it will skip formatting and only reset changed files to their defaults. (Files are overwritten with symlinks to their original copy in /rom; extra files and packages are left intact)

After these two steps, you'll have a router with a pristine unchanged configuration. Everything should work now.

6.3. Recovering from bad firmware

If you've followed the instructions and warnings you should have boot_wait set to on. With boot_wait on, each time the router boots you will have roughly 3 seconds to send a new firmware using tftp. Use a standard tftp client to send the firmware in binary mode to Due to limitations in the bootloader, this firmware will have to be under 3MB in size.

See Enabling boot_wait