[Experimental] Asuswrt-Merlin 384.13 test – AiMesh/DNSSEC through OpenSSL

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    [Experimental] Asuswrt-Merlin 384.13 test – AiMesh/DNSSEC through OpenSSL

    It appears RMerlin has started to look at making AiMesh available via his builds as currently via SNBForums he has a thread about introducing an test build which has both AiMesh and uses DNSSEC via SSH

    RMerlins firmware (ASUSWRT-Merlin test covers the following models










    Copied from SNBForums

    dnsmasq OpenSSL support
    Dnsmasq uses nettle to handle the crypto portion of DNSSEC, which limits the supported ciphers. @themiron implemented OpenSSL support in dnsmasq, which opens the door for supporting more ciphers.

    The implementation required a fair amount of changes to dnsmasq itself, and so it will require in-depth testing to ensure it works properly. I have already personally observed some oddities: when using my ISP’s DNS, I am able to to validate DSA signatures despite it not being enabled in dnsmasq. Seems like somehow dnsmasq accepts the upstream server’s validation.

    AiMesh support (for primary router only)
    The two main technical obstacles (that I was aware of, so far) to supporting AiMesh were:
    – I use a custom format for dhcp_staticlist to store user-defined hostnames
    – AiMesh manipulates/validates firmware versions between all nodes

    A future change to dhcp_staticlist layout forced me to investigate into ways to deal with that. I ended up moving the hostnames to a separate nvram variable for non-HND models, and reading/writing that new setting directly in /jffs for HND models (where a new variable’s max length is 255 characters). Doing so allows me to stay 100% compatible with Asus’s current (and future) dhcp_staticlist format. It also allows people to enter more static leases than before (since the 2999 characters of dhcp_staticlist no longer need to also include hostnames). And finally it should make cfg_sync (the daemon that syncs settings between AiMesh nodes) happy, and no longer claiming that an Asuswrt-Merlin router is running firmware 3.8.4…

    Since the only remaining obstacle was the firmware version handling, I looked into also making it closer to stock firmware. I’ve settled with storing a bogus version in the webs_state_info variable, and instead storing the real firmware version announced by the update server into a new variable. This required a fair amount of changes and workarounds to deal with this. Also, the update check code needed to be able to handle both my own update server (for the primary node) and Asus’s own servers (for all the child nodes). Therefore, there is one restriction: only your primary AiMesh router can run Asuswrt-Merlin. All the other nodes connected to it must run the stock firmware from Asus. Which shouldn’t be a problem, as those nodes wouldn’t be able to really benefit from the Asuswrt-Merlin enhancements.

    At this point, both of these features are considered experimental projects, in need of thorough testing. The result of these tests will determine if it will be possible to go ahead with either of these features as part of the standard feature set. So, nothing is guaranteed yet. There is still a chance that something will go wrong, and ultimately these features might have to be put back on the shelves.

    Before you begin
    Make a backup of both your Settings and your JFFS partition before you start playing with these experimental builds.

    To use the new dnsmasq support you don’t need to do anything: just enable DNSSEC support, then watch the general behaviour. DNS-over-TLS settings should not have any impact on these tests.

    For AiMesh support, during this test phase, you must manually enable it. To do so, log in over SSH, then run the following commands:

    touch /jffs/.gomesh

    After your router is done rebooting, the webui should now be AiMesh-aware.

    Once again, please note that all the nodes you will connect to that router must be running the stock Asus firmware. Running Asuswrt-Merlin on these is NOT supported. The first problem you will face if you ignore this is you will be unable to update the firmware on any of these nodes while they are connected to AiMesh.

    Also note that any node (other than the primary router) that you turn into an AiMesh node will be reset to factory default settings (as part of a standard AiMesh setup). So, make a backup of their configurations first if you intend to revert back to a non-AiMesh state with these.


    Feedback can be given via SNB Forums and drop us a copy via this thread so we can all see how the testing is progressing ;-)




    Pre Beta builds are available via ASUSWRT-Merlin normal download servers


    In a completely sane world, madness is the only freedom (J.G.Ballard).

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