This is one of those stupid kerfluffles that give open source a bad name.
Harald Welte, one of the good guys, got things started with a blog post titled Netgear trying to fool their users with "Open Source Router," (Picture from Wikimedia Commons.) The text doesn't match the intensity of the headline.
Welte's complaint is that Netgear did not "study the Open Source market that they're trying to address." The company ships proprietary software with the router, then lets users download open source replacements if they wish.
This doesn't please open source advocates, but they're not the whole market for this product. Addressing multiple markets with one router is called marketing.
Netgear's Pat Choudhury explained the company's position at its Myopenrouter web site.
What makes the router open source is that Netgear lets you flash open source onto it. In fact they give you tools for this, and software. They're happy if you do, and happy if you then build applications on the open source software you flash.
But if you don't care, if you just want a super-fast router you can use out of the box, then Netgear wants to have its own software there, software it supports, software it understands. Yes, that's proprietary software. So what? If you don't care where's the harm?
Santa Claus, who does his online business under the name megacoder, immediately chimed in under Choudhury's post with an attaboy, but I wonder how many times open source advocates need to cry "wolf" when there is no wolf before people stop listening when there is a wolf?
Harald Welte has more power than I do, power he has earned over many years with good works. It doesn't matter much when I shoot from the lip. It matters when he does.