OpenWrt on Actiontec GT701-WG

November 21, 2009 | 4 Minute Read

Couldn’t put OpenWrt on my Goodwill Linksys WRT54G v8, but it turns out it will run on my old Qwest DSL modem, an Actiontec GT701-WG.

OpenWrt holds a lot of promise, so it was worth it to me to try to get it working, especially since I had a good candidate target device sitting in a drawer wasting space. Since this was my first experience with OpenWrt, I hit a few rough edges on the sites—both of them: there are “old” and “new” wikis, and both have grown organically, shall we say—and deduced a lot through trial and error.

The biggest difficulty was in connecting to the GT701-WG via FTP. Two seconds after power-up, there’s a brief 5-second window when the device accepts connections at, regardless of whatever IP address may normally be configured. This was important, because I kept trying to connect to the “new” address I gave it ages ago. A Google search turned up lots of conflicting information, so I spent about two hours trying various suggestions and cockamamie sequences before hitting the right one:

  1. Connect via Ethernet, NOT the USB port.
  2. Power cycle the device, WITHOUT pressing the RESET button.
  3. Wait 3 seconds, then ftp from a terminal, even if the device is normally configured for some other address.

At this point, I was finally able to get an ADAM2 prompt and follow the GT701-WG-specific instructions on the OpenWrt site.

NOTE: I chose to install the latest Kamikaze build (8.09.1), selecting openwrt-ar7-squashfs.bin since the alternatives appeared to be custom builds for other devices. The OpenWrt documentation advises selecting a firmware image based on processor type and speed, as described on their hardware list, but their own list of AR7-based routers (like the GT701-WG) was blank. My router did turn up in a search by manufacturer, but it turns out the images aren’t actually listed by processor type and speed—just type—and nowhere does it say, “Use image X if your processor isn’t listed.” Not the end of the world, but all the little inconsistencies and fuzzy details do add up.

Anyway, here’s how the firmware upgrade went down for me:

peter@McMullen ~/Documents/saphum/OpenWrt $ ftp
Connected to
220 ADAM2 FTP Server ready.
Name ( adam2
331 Password required for adam2.
Password: adam2
230 User adam2 successfully logged in.
Remote system type is UNIX.
ftp> binary
200 Type set to I.
ftp> quote SETENV MAC_PORT,0
200 SETENV command successful
ftp> quote SETENV mtd5,0x90010000,0x903e0000
200 SETENV command successful
ftp> quote MEDIA FLSH
200 Media set to FLSH.
ftp> passive
Passive mode: off; fallback to active mode: off.
ftp> put "openwrt-ar7-squashfs.bin" "openwrt-ar7-squashfs.bin mtd5"
local: openwrt-ar7-squashfs.bin remote: openwrt-ar7-squashfs.bin mtd5
200 Port command successful.
150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for file transfer.
100% |************************************| 2560 KiB 129.35 KiB/s 00:00 ETA
226 Transfer complete.
2621444 bytes sent in 00:20 (122.30 KiB/s)
ftp> quote REBOOT
221-Thank you for using the FTP service on ADAM2.
221 Goodbye.
ftp> quit
peter@McMullen ~/Documents/saphum/OpenWrt $

After I issued the put command, there was a substantial delay between the 200 Port command successful message and the start of the transfer—maybe 20 seconds (the transfer itself took about the same). Following the reboot, the device’s IP address was now officially, which I verified:

peter@McMullen ~/Documents/saphum/OpenWrt $ telnet
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
 === IMPORTANT ============================
  Use 'passwd' to set your login password
  this will disable telnet and enable SSH
BusyBox v1.11.2 (2009-05-28 18:22:45 UTC) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
 _______                     ________        __
|       |.-----.-----.-----.|  |  |  |.----.|  |_
|   -   ||  _  |  -__|     ||  |  |  ||   _||   _|
|_______||   __|_____|__|__||________||__|  |____|
         |__| W I R E L E S S F R E E D O M
 KAMIKAZE (8.09.1, r16278) ----------------------------
  * 10 oz Vodka       Shake well with ice and strain
  * 10 oz Triple sec  mixture into 10 shot glasses.
  * 10 oz lime juice  Salute!

Now on to the next step!