Building custom OpenWRT image for home router

Finally I decided to upgrade my wireless network to 802.11n, and to do so I picked up cheap TP-Link TL-WR740N and decided to install OpenVPN, n2n and munin node on it. This is where the problems started because simple opkg install openvpn filled up whole file-system. Instead of declaring fail on this front, I decided to ask a friend how to make this work...

Reason for this upgrade was change in my router provided by ADSL provider. I didn't have any administration privileges on it, and it was only 802.11g device, so my previous configuration with igel which provided pppoe wasn't possible any more (since I can't turn ADSL router into bridge mode). So I decided to scrap igel and move openvpn and n2n to TP-Link instead (which will also help with head dissipation on my closet which hosts all those devices).

Since router has just 4MiB of flash storage, installing large packages is not solution for this platform. However, all is not lost, and there is alternative way to make this work. Trick is in way how OpenWRT uses flash storage. Image which you download from internet contains squashfs (which is compressed) that enable really efficient usage of storage on router itself. All additional packages are installed into overlay file-system, which doesn't support compression so you will fill root file-system really quick. However, there is solution. OpenWrt project provides Image Builder which enables you to select packages which are included in base installation, and thus ends up in squash file-system nicely reducing need for flash storage. Even better, you can also exclude packages which you are not going to use. However, to make this really useful you also have to provide files directory which contains modifications needed to make your specific router configuration work (like IP addresses, OpenVPN keys, n2n keys and similar modification).

First, I downloaded OpenWrt Barrier Breaker (Bleeding Edge Snapshots) and created files directory in which I will create files which are specific for my setup. For a first build (to make sure that it works I just copied /etc/config/network into it and rebuild image with

make image PROFILE=TLWR740 PACKAGES="-dnsmasq -ip6tables -ppp \
 -ppp-mod-pppoe -kmod-ipt-nathelper -odhcp6c \
 openvpn-openssl n2n muninlite" FILES=../files/
I didn't need dnsmasq (because ADSL modem will provide DHCP service for my network) and along the same lines, I also excluded ppp and nat but added openssl, n2n and muninlite (which is munin node written in C).
After rebuild, I copied created image to router and started upgrade with
scp bin/ar71xx/openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-wr740n-v4-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin root@
ssh root@ sysupgrade -v /tmp/openwrt-ar71xx-generic-tl-wr740n-v4-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin
Than I hold my breath and after re-flashing router it rebooted and connected to my network. So far, so good. Now I had all required packages installed, so I started configuring packages to my specific need. In the end, I had following configuration files which I copied back to my files folder
dpavlin@t61p:~/openwrt$ find files/

After another rebuild of image to make sure that everything works, I was all set with new router for my home network.