RADIUSdesk WiFi Hotspot Manager and GUI for FreeRADIUS
MESHdesk Streamlined Mesh Controller

Building MESHdesk firmware using the LEDE Project

What is the LEDE Project?

The LEDE project is founded as a spin-off of the OpenWrt project and shares many of the same goals. We are building an embedded Linux distribution that makes it easy for developers, system administrators or other Linux enthusiasts to build and customize software for embedded devices, especially wireless routers. The name LEDE stands for Linux Embedded Development Environment.

Why are you advocating LEDE Project instead of OpenWrt?

  • The LEDE project is endorsed by communities that share common interests to MESHdesk (eg Mesh networks)
  • The LEDE project is active and dynamic.

Preparing the environment

  • We assume you have a standard install of the Ubuntu 14.04 operating system.
  • You need to install certain required packages which the LEDE build environment needs to function correct.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential subversion git-core libncurses5-dev zlib1g-dev gawk flex quilt libssl-dev xsltproc libxml-parser-perl unzip mercurial

Check out the code

  • Since there is not a stable LEDE release yet, we will check out the current development branch
cd ~
mkdir lede
cd lede
git clone https://git.lede-project.org/source.git
  • This will create a folder called source where the build environemnt resides.
  • Should you wish to update an existing checked out source, use the following command:
cd ~
cd lede/source
git pull

Installing the packages

  • Update the feeds:
./scripts/feeds update
  • Install the following MESHdesk specific packages:
./scripts/feeds install coova-chilli
./scripts/feeds install luasocket
./scripts/feeds install libuci-lua
./scripts/feeds install curl
./scripts/feeds install -a -p routing 
./scripts/feeds install iwinfo
./scripts/feeds install alfred
  • You might get some warnings when you install thse packages.
    • They are non-critical except if you might want to include ssl support with CoovaChilli.
    • The other warning is if you might want to include GPS support with Alfred
Installing package 'coova-chilli' from packages
WARNING: No feed for package 'libmatrixssl' found, maybe it's already part of the standard packages?
Installing package 'alfred' from routing
WARNING: No feed for package 'libgps' found, maybe it's already part of the standard packages?

Adding the MESHdesk package

  • MESHdesk is now very easy to add since it is simply an LEDE package which can be selected.
  • Check out the current development MESHdesk code from SVN
svn checkout svn://dvdwalt@svn.code.sf.net/p/radiusdesk/code/trunk/meshdesk/MESHdesk ./MESHdesk
  • Make a tar file of the code:
tar -czvf MESHdesk.tar.gz ./MESHdesk
  • Change directory to the LEDE source code:
cd ./source
  • Create a directory called zzz-MESHdesk with a sub directory called files under the package directory.
mkdir -p ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files
  • Copy the MESHdesk.tar.gz file to the ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files directory.
cp [where ever you file is]/MESHdesk.tar.gz ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files
  • Change directory to the ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files directory and extract the file.
cd ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files
tar -xzvf MESHdesk.tar.gz
  • Move the Makefile to be under the zzz-MESHdesk directory.
mv ./MESHdesk/Makefile ../
  • The MESHdesk code also include a password and shadow file with a user root and password admin.
  • To include that in the firmware you need to do the following:
    • Create a files directory under the source directory.
    • Create a directory structure similar to what you want on the firmware
    • Add the files in these directories
  • Change directory to the LEDE source code:
cd ./source
mkdir -p files/etc
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/files/common/passwd ./files/etc
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/files/common/shadow ./files/etc
  • Should you wish to get an existing build environment's MESHdesk package updated to the latest SVN:
cd ./source
cd ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk
svn update
#It will mention that it restored the Makefile
#Restored 'Makefile'
cd ../
mv ./MESHdesk/Makefile ../

Tweaking MESHdesk package

MediaTek or Atheros

  • We now support both MediaTek and Atheros based devices.
  • This enables MESHdesk firmware to run on a whole lot of additional devices.
  • The MediaTek devices are typically cheaper when compared to the Atheros based devices.
  • We even got the MediaTek devices to mesh on 802.11AC!
  • When you compile for MediaTek, replace the dhcp_network_one_eth with dhcp_network_one_eth_mediatek and the frmwr_network_one_eth with frmwr_network_one_eth_mediatek.
  • When you compile for Atheros, replace the dhcp_network_one_eth with dhcp_network_one_eth_atheros and the frmwr_network_one_eth with frmwr_network_one_eth_atheros.
#Compiling MediaTek
cd ./source
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/dhcp_network_one_eth_mediatek ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/dhcp_network_one_eth
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/frmwr_network_one_eth_mediatek ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/frmwr_network_one_eth
#Compiling Atheros
cd ./source
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/dhcp_network_one_eth_atheros ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/dhcp_network_one_eth
cp ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/frmwr_network_one_eth_atheros ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/configs/frmwr_network_one_eth
  • Pleas take care to do the steps above or else you could render your firmware useless if it is using the wrong file!


  • We also support both HTTPS and HTTP when the device fetch and report its settings to the back-end.
  • To use HTTPS instead of the default HTTP edit the meshdesk config file
 vi ./package/zzz-MESHdesk/files/MESHdesk/meshdesk
  • Change the protocol to https.
config internet 'internet1'
        option dns 'rd01.wificity.asia'
        option url 'cake2/rd_cake/nodes/get_config_for_node.json'
        option status_url 'cake2/rd_cake/mesh_reports/submit_report.json'
        option actions_url 'cake2/rd_cake/node_actions/get_actions_for.json'
        option ap_url 'cake2/rd_cake/aps/get_config_for_ap.json'
        option ap_status_url 'cake2/rd_cake/ap_reports/submit_report.json'
        option ap_actions_url 'cake2/rd_cake/ap_actions/get_actions_for.json'
        option protocol 'https'
        option ip ''

Identity interface

  • The following step is only required on some TP Link devices. Notably those who has Gigabit Ethernet ports.
  • On these devices the LAN is connected to eth1 instead of the usual eth0.
  • We know of the TP-Link WR1043ND and also the Archer models that have this issue.
  • Edit the following and change:
option id_if 'eth0'
  • To
option id_if 'eth1'
  • Now the tweaks are completed we can select the packages to include.

Selecting the packages

  • Enter the following command in the directory which you checked the code out:
make menuconfig
  • This will open a cursors interface which allows you to specify certain selections to include with the firmware build.
  • Along with this you also need to select the architecture and or board combination of the firmware you are planning to build.
  • It seems the package selection get lost if you switch between architectures.
  • Make sure that when you build for another architecture the packages are still selected.
  • Some packages are actually optional, depending on how you user MESHdesk and APdesk. We recommend though that you include all of the packages in the list where possible. The optional packages which can be left out are the the following:
    • Coova Chilli - Not having this package will remove the captive portal functionality.
    • OpenVPN - Not having this package will remove the ability to set up OpenVPN tunnel exit points.
    • wpad - By using the default wpad-mini you will not have WPA2 Enterprise security available on the SSIDs.
  • Select the following packages as build-in when preparing the firmware:

We recommend that you include all of the packages in the list where possible. 8-)

Package Detail
Languages → lua Embedded lightweight scripting language
Languages → luasocket We neet this library for precision timing
libraries → libuci-lua Interface library for lua scripting language to UCI system
Kernel modules → Network support → batman-adv used for the mesh
Network → alfred used to communicate over the mesh
Network → batctl User space configuration tool
Network → Captive Portals → coova-chilli Captive portal for the breakout points
Network → File Transfer → Curl A Client side URL Transfer utility
Network → VPN → OpenVPN PolarsSSL OpenVPN package for OpenVPN brige exit point - You can also use OpenVPN OpenSSL
Network → wpad use this instead of wpad-mini to allow WPA Enterprise suport
Utilities → iwinfo Handy utility to get Wifi info instead of iw
Base system → zzz-MESHdesk The package we checked out and added manually from SVN

Support for 3G/4G dongles

  • We are once again taking the lead with new features.
  • Lets see when and if the commercial guys will follow with 3G/4G support since it requires additional hardware.
  • If you want to add support for 3G/4G dongles as an alternative to Ethernet based Internet be sure to include the following packages.
Package Detail
Utilities → comgt Used to create chat scripts to connect to mobile network
Kernel modules → USB support → kmod-usb-serial Required for USB data transfer
Kernel modules → USB support → kmod-usb-serial-option Required for USB data transfer
Kernel modules → USB support → kmod-usb-serial-wwan Required for USB data transfer
Kernel modules → USB support → kmod-usb2 Required for USB support in device
Utilities → usb-modeswitch Required to switch the mode of the USB stick from storage to modem

Support for WiFi Client Internet connection

  • We are once again taking the lead with new features.
  • This might take the others a bit quicker to catch up with us since it does not require additional hardware.
  • If you want to add support for WiFi Client Internet connection as an alternative to Ethernet based Internet be sure to include the following package.
Package Detail
Network → Routing and Redirection → relayd Used to bridge the WiFi Station interface with the LAN

Removing unused packages

  • Some devices that we flash the MESHdesk firmware on have limited space on the flash chip. These devices typically have only 4M flash.
  • We then need to remove as much of the packages we do not need in order for our firmware to fit on the chip.
Package Detail
Network → odhcp6c No need for DHCP client v6
Network → odhcpd No need for DHCP server v6
Network → ppp No need for PPP
Kernel modules → Network Support → kmod-ppp No need for PPP
Network → wpad Use wpad-mini instead (This forfeit WPA Enterprise suport)

The only way we could manage to fit everything on a 4M device was to replace wpad again with wpad-mini (This on Chaos Calmer)

Building the firmware

  • You should now be able to build the firmware using the following command inside the build directory
make V=99
  • The build process can take long especially if you have a slow machine with a slow Internet connection so put at least 12 hours aside for this.

What next?

  • After the firmware has been build you can now flash it onto the device. Please see the specific pages related to the specific hardware.