Netgear WNR3500L — WNR3500Lv2, Open Source Router; v2 ships with undisclosed chipset

Oh, Netgear, you are so special! From the outside, isn’t it nice, a company releasing an “open source” router, and specifically advertising it as such? Even going as far as creating a web-site / paying some unrelated entity to create and maintain one — http://www.myopenrouter.com/.

But what’s behind the doors of this seemingly genuine approach of embracing the open source community? First off, they’re merely trying to copy the fame of Linksys WRT54GL, notice the L in the name, which stands for Linux.

It all seems nice, the advertising materials seem nice and all that. However, let’s take a closer look at the v1 vs. v2 of this very WNR3500L.

Supposedly, v1 was released somewhere in late 2009, and is a rebranded version of WNR3500v2 (notice the missing L); however, the new L v2, WNR3500Lv2, got FCC approvals only this summer 2011, and is a significant redesign, supposedly ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by any open source firmware project.

For starters, it’s already being shipped by Amazon, so if you purchase WNR3500L, you’ll more than likely get WNR3500Lv2.

Not only is this new WNR3500Lv2 not supported, but open-source projects in question don’t even seem to know any kind of details about it (chipsets etc), other than some OSS volunteers finding their own money to purchase the product off of amazon.com in the hopes of getting a v2 version, after regular consumers volunteer to report that the stuff they’ve bought is not actually supported by the 3 open-source router firmwares that were quite explicitly advertised to work with the router in question.

Good job, NETGEAR, good job! Re-design the insides from scratch, name it v2, yet advertise the thing as still being supported by open-source without even publishing the slightest hints about what hardware changes were performed whatsoever. No chipset info, no nothing. If you go to myopenrouter.com, it still lists all the old stuff from 2009 in regards to WNR3500L; the only mentions of WNR3500Lv2 is from the user threads where people report that their newly purchased router from amazon.com does not accept any existing firmwares. And this new 2011 v2 of WNR3500L has been shipping from amazon.com for days (or maybe even weeks) now.