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OpenWISP2 Controller Admin Panel.png
A screenshot of OpenWISP2 Controller's admin panel
Founded2008; 11 years ago (2008)
FoundersDavide Guerri, Maurizio Goretti and Francesco Loriga[1]
Founded atItaly

OpenWISP is a non-profit open source organization aimed to ease the creation and management of large-scale network infrastructure,[2] particularly public wireless networks. Davide Guerri, Maurizio Goretti and Francesco Loriga formed the organization in 2008, valuing communication, net neutrality, privacy, transparency, and sustainability. Their main goals are to ease the creation and management of low-cost networks around the world, create innovative networking software, make electronic communications easier and more affordable, support various operating systems, provide good documentation, and create easy-to-use web interfaces.[3]


In 2008, the province of Rome started WiFi Metropolitano (previously known as ProvinciaWiFi[4]), a project to create free public WiFi networks[5] spanning across 120 cities with over 4.5 million inhabitants. Since the beginning, it was decided to let the project be completely open, allowing for modifications and enhancements from the community.[6] Because of this, all of the access points in the network run on free and open software and operating systems. Within a few months, the project grew to over 50 access points spread around the province. At this point, it was necessary to build a system to simplify the management of those networks. The creation of OpenWISP made it possible for the project to grow to over 1200 access points by the end of 2012. This solution has been adopted by CINECA and named OpenWiFi, which contributed to the creation of FreeItalia WiFi, which now serves over 500,000 users across 4000 access points.[7] It has also been used to build FreeWiFiGenova[8] for the iCity project.

The original OpenWISP software suite, now referred to as OpenWISP1, was developed between 2008 and 2011 to counter specific issues in WiFi Metropolitano, and thus was not reusable in other situations. OpenWISP1 is still in use, however because it was hard to maintain and apply to other networks with different requirements and setup, another set of tools called OpenWISP2 was developed. This second iteration of network management tools are much more customizable and reusable than OpenWISP1, and are going to gradually replace it as development continues.[9]

Core Values and Goals[edit]

Core Values[edit]

OpenWISP believes that digital communication is a human right, and therefore it is their main objective to help push back the digital divide by building easy-to-use network management software and helping out people lacking knowledge on networking. By easing the management of networks, more community-driven networks will be started,[10] and with the lowered barrier to entry, those without the know-how could easily build their own networks, thus expanding their range of communication.

OpenWISP also believes that Net Neutrality and privacy is crucial in creating a free and open internet. Net Neutrality ensures that all data is treated equally, which means that ISPs cannot filter content or charge extra for access to specific websites. This gives privacy to the users, letting them access to anything without being monitored. To support these values, OpenWISP does not include or document any tools to monitor and filter content.

They also strive towards creating a welcoming and supportive community. Transparency is a key part to building a trusting community, and so OpenWISP creates open source software, to allow anyone to view and edit the code to their liking, including building their own software and networks based on the existing code.[11][12]

Finally, they believe that software needs to be modular and reusable. Because modular software is split into smaller components, it becomes much more manageable and easier to maintain. The modules can also be reused in other projects, thus saving time and effort in developing similar functionality.


In order to achieve their main objective, OpenWISP has set out some goals:

  • Increase internet connectivity by easing the creation and management of networks
  • Creating modular, reusable, flexible, and extensible networking software
  • Creating a collection of tools that could make digital communication easier and more affordable
  • Support various devices and operating systems to cut down on vendor lock-in
  • Provide clear documentation
  • Create easy-to-use web interfaces



The original OpenWISP suite was built specifically to solve the management problems faced on WiFi Metropolitano.[9] It is made up of the following components:[13]

  • OpenWISP Manager: the central management for access points running the OpenWISP Firmware
  • OpenWISP Geographic Monitoring: keeps track of and maps connected access points and their link state
  • OpenWISP Firmware: scripts that connect access points to an OpenWISP Manager instance
  • OpenWISP User System Management: a system to handle registration and authentication of users connected to the network
  • OpenWISP Captive Portal Management: manages the captive portal for user login and registration
  • OpenWISP MiddleWare: connects all OpenWISP modules together


OpenWISP2 is a set of software tools built to succeed OpenWISP1. Unlike OpenWISP1, which was built specifically to manage WiFi Metropolitano, these tools are more generalized and can be used to manage networks of any form.[14] It is modular, which allows for more customizability, giving the freedom to change any part of the system to better suit the needs of the network. It is also more reusable, allowing the modules to be used outside of their scope, and even be included in other projects outside of OpenWISP.

OpenWISP2 Controller[edit]

OpenWISP2 Controller acts as the central management for all of the access points connected using the OpenWISP2 Firmware. It gives access to the configuration of all registered access points in one place. It is written Python on top of Django, and is composed of several modules:

OpenWISP2 Controller allows for quick configuration of one or multiple registered access points at once. Its templating system can be used to quickly apply common configurations, and could also be used to set the default settings for all devices, eliminating the need to adjust new devices manually.

OpenWISP2 Controller is replacing OpenWISP Manager, and as more monitoring modules are added and integrated, will also gradually replace OpenWISP Geographic Monitoring.

OpenWISP2 Firmware[edit]

OpenWISP2 Firmware connects and registers devices running OpenWRT or LEDE to a configured OpenWISP2 Controller. It's composed of luci-openwisp, which is a small web interface, and openwisp-config, the component that connects and registers the device to an OpenWISP2 Controller instance.

Because OpenWRT and LEDE is open source, it is also possible to compile a custom image which includes openwisp-config alongside its configuration. The custom image could then be flashed to multiple devices at once, allowing them to connect and register themselves to an OpenWISP2 Controller instance without any manual configuration.

OpenWISP2 Monitoring[edit]

OpenWISP2 Monitoring is a tool to monitor and track registered access points. It is going to eventually replace OpenWISP Geographic Monitoring. Its features haven't been fully integrated with OpenWISP2 Controller yet, however they have been implemented in several projects, including django-netjsongraph and netjsongraph.js.


OpenWISP has taken part in Google Summer of Code 2017[15] and Google Code-In 2017.[16] It has also been accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Code-In 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OpenWISP website about page". OpenWISP Project. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  2. ^ Maccari, Leonardo (2017-08-09). "Monitoring CNs: Report on Experimentations on CNs" (PDF). D2.7.04_2017-08-09: 17–20.
  3. ^ "OpenWISP Core Values and Goals". OpenWISP docs. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  4. ^ Goretti, M.; Guerri, D.; Loriga, F. (October 2012). "ProvinciaWiFi: A 1000 hotspot free, public, open source Wi-Fi network". 2012 15th International Telecommunications Network Strategy and Planning Symposium (NETWORKS): 1–6. doi:10.1109/NETWKS.2012.6381720. ISBN 978-1-4673-1391-9.
  5. ^ Barcelo, Jaume (2012-07-03). "Bottom-up Broadband Initiatives in the Commons for Europe Project". arXiv:1207.1031 [cs.CY].
  6. ^ "Introduzione a OpenWisP | Free ItaliaWiFi". freeitaliawifi.it. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  7. ^ "OpenWIFI | Cineca". www.cineca.it. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  8. ^ "Report on iCities digital footprint and gap analysis" (PDF). D3.3: 57. 2013-01-25.
  9. ^ a b "OpenWISP Project - History". openwisp.org. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  10. ^ "In Italia si diffondono le comunità wireless autogestite - Tlc". ANSA.it (in Italian). 2017-04-10. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  11. ^ "Caspur "Open WiFi": la soluzione ideale per una rete WiFi pubblica e gratuita - Data Manager Online". Data Manager Online (in Italian). 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2018-01-10.
  12. ^ Kim, Gijeong (2016-03-10). "openwincon: Open Source Wireless-Wired Network Controller" (PDF). Icn_2016_3_10_30050.
  13. ^ "What is OpenWISP". openwisp.org. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  14. ^ Pekevski, Bojan (2016). "Control and management of Wi-Fi networks". 80110 – via Univerza v Ljubljani.
  15. ^ "OpenWISP - 2017 - Google Summer of Code Archive". summerofcode.withgoogle.com. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  16. ^ "Welcoming 25 mentor organizations for Google Code-in 2017". Google Open Source Blog. Retrieved 2018-01-08.

External links[edit]