Software access point

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A software access point is used when you want your computer to act as an wifi access point for the local wireless network. It saves you the trouble of getting a separate wireless router.


  • A nl80211 compatible wireless device (e.g. ath9k)


Setting up an access point comprises two main parts:

  • Setting up the wifi link layer, so that wireless clients can associate to your computer's "software access point" and send/receive IP packets from/to your computer; this is what the hostapd package will do for you
  • Setting up the network configuration on you computer, so that your computer will properly relay IP packets from/to its own Internet connection from/to wireless clients.

Wifi Link Layer

The actual Wifi link is established via the hostapd package. That package is compatible with WPA2.

Install the hostapd package from the official repositories.

Create the config file of hostapd /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf.

Adjust the options as necessary. Especially, change the ssid and the wpa_passphrase.

wpa_pairwise=TKIP CCMP

For automatically starting hostapd, enable the hostapd.service.

Network configuration

There are two basic ways for implementing this:

  1. bridge: create a network bridge on your computer (wireless clients will appear to access the same network interface and the same subnet that's used by your computer)
  2. NAT: with IP forwarding/masquerading and DHCP service (wireless clients will use a dedicated subnet, data from/to that subnet is NAT-ted -- similar to a normal WiFi router that's connected to your DSL or cable modem)

The bridge approach is more simple, but it requires that any service that's needed by your wireless clients (like, DHCP) is available on your computers external interface. That means it will not work if you have a dialup connection (e.g., via PPPoE or a 3G modem) or if you're using a cable modem that will supply exactly one IP address to you via DHCP.

The NAT aproach is more versatile, as it clearly separates wifi clients from your computer and it's completely transparent to the outside world. It will work with any kind of network connection, and (if needed) you can introduce traffic policies using the usual iptables approach.

Of course, is possible to combine both things. For that, studying both articles would be necessary. (Example: Like having a bridge that contains both an ethernet device and the wireless device with an static ip, offering DHCP and setting NAT configured to relay the traffic to an additional network device - that can be ppp or eth)

Bridge Setup

The recommended way is to use netctl to create the bridge. This section describes how to create a simple bridge for the wireless adapter (wlan0) and one wired adapter (eth0). If you want to do anything more special, read the netctl and bridge with netctl articles. You will need to replace eth0 with your network device.

Make sure, that you have installed bridge-utils and netctl:

 # pacman -Sy netctl bridge-utils

Profile for Wired Device

In case you haven't used netctl before, create a profile for your wired network card. Otherwise skip this section.

Description='dhcp ethernet connection'
## for DHCPv6
## for IPv6 autoconfiguration

Now start and if it works, enable it at boot:

 # netctl start ethernet
 # netctl enable ethernet

Profile for Bridge Interface

Create the following file and replace eth0 with your network device.

Description="Access Point Bridge"

As with the wired profile, try it out and if it works, enable it at boot:

 # netctl start bridge
 # netctl enable bridge

Hostapd will automatically add your wireless device to the bridge, so you shouldn't add it here.

Configure hostapd

Uncomment the following:


NAT Setup

See create_ap. This script combines hostapd, dnsmasq and iptables to create a NATed Access Point.

See Internet Share for details.

On that article, the device connected to the lan is net0. That device would be in this case your wireless device (which probably is wlan0).


WLAN is very slow

This could be caused by low entropy. Consider installing haveged.

NetworkManager is interfering

hostapd may not work, if the device is managed by NetworkManager. You can mask the device:


See also