OpenWrt项目始于2004年1月. 最早的OpenWrt版本基于Linksys为遵守GPL而放出的、为WRT54G所编写的代码，以及uclibc项目的buildroot。 这个版本以OpenWrt "stable release"（“稳定版”）之名为人所知，使用广泛。仍有许多OpenWrt应用程序是基于这一版的，例如Freifunk-Firmware或Sip@Home。
2005年初，一些新的开发者进入了团队。在封闭开发了数月之后，团队决定发布OpenWrt的第一个“实验”（experimental）版本。这个实验版本使用的build系统是基于buildroot2大改而成的，而buildroot2来自于uclibc项目。 OpenWrt使用官方版GNU/Linux内核代码，只是额外添加了片上系统（SoC，System on Chip）的补丁和网络接口的驱动。开发团队尝试重新实现GPL tarball中不同开发商的绝大多数专有代码。其中有：将新固件镜像文件直接写入闪存的自由工具（mtd）、配置无线局域网（wlcompat/wificonf）、通过proc文件系统对支持VLAN的switch（交换机？）进行编程。最初发布的OpenWrt的代号是“White Russian”，来自于著名鸡尾酒的名称。在OpenWrt发布0.9版的时候，White Russian的生命周期结束。
The legacy White Russian releases are still available, but are neither supported nor maintained:
Substantial improvements to the build environment were made under the Buildroot-NG fork in August and September 2006, and these were merged back into the main Kamikaze development branch in mid-October 2006 and became the first official Kamikaze release. There were several Kamikaze releases in 2007-2010. Some documentation of the earlier system (which was also used in White Russian builds) is still available; the basics remain similar in the current bleeding-edge trunk.
Where other projects use major version numbers, OpenWrt releases are identified by code names. The current major release is Backfire, the legacy versions are White Russian and Kamikaze.
First Backfire 10.03 release was in April 2010.
The maintenance release 10.03.1 was released in December 2011.
The bleeding edge development trunk, where the main development is being made, is called as "trunk" in the SVN repository.
Until February 2011 it was confusingly also called "Kamikaze" (like an earlier stable branch), but with r25514 it was renamed to "Attitude Adjustment".
The name of the currently installed version is displayed in the console
Stable release version numbers are made from the year and the month when a new stable branch was created. An additional third number indicates service releases from that branch.
For pre-built images and the source code of the latest stable release are available on an extra page.
The following is a complete history of post White Russian releases (follow the links for release notes):
|Backfire 10.03.1||2011 December||Backfire|
|Backfire 10.03||2010 April||Backfire|
|Kamikaze 8.09.2||2010 January||Kamikaze|
|Kamikaze 8.09.1||2009 June||Kamikaze|
|Kamikaze 8.09||2008 September||Kamikaze|
|Kamikaze 7.09||2007 September||Kamikaze|
|Kamikaze 7.07||2007 July||Kamikaze|
|Kamikaze 7.06||2007 June||Kamikaze|
|2007 January||White Russian 0.9|
|2006 November||White Russian RC6|
|2006 March||White Russian RC5|
|2005 November||White Russian RC4|
|2005 September||White Russian RC3|
|2005 Juli||White Russian RC2|
|2005 Juni||White Russian RC1|
|2005 February||Before experimental|