How to upgrade packages in OpenWRT to apply updates, security patches and more

So you installed the OpenWRT firmware on your wireless router! It works like a charm. However, what would you need to do to upgrade the firmware periodically? A secure router is only as good as the last security patch applied.

The best feature of OpenWRT over dd-wrt or even Android, is that you do not need to re-install the whole firmware each time a package or software is updated in the firmware. You only need to identify the package that has changed, and apply the uprade.

To install patches, or upgrades to packages or software in OpenWRT, follow the steps below:

Login to the router using SSH
$ ssh user@xx.xx.xx.xx <enter>
where xx.xx.xx.xx is the router’s IP address.

Update the list of packages
# opkg update <enter>

List the packages that are installed and that can be upgraded
# opkg list-upgradable <enter>
This will print a list of the packages installed on your router that can be upgraded.

Apply the upgrade to the package
# opkg upgrade package_name <enter>
where package_name is the package listed when you gave the list-upgradable command.

Now, restart the router.

The above steps are also similar to what you would do if you had a Linux computer and needed to apply the updates to packages.