WPA supplicant

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wpa_supplicant is a cross-platform WPA Supplicant with support for WPA and WPA2 (IEEE 802.11i / RSN (Robust Secure Network)). It is suitable for both desktop/laptop computers and embedded systems. wpa_supplicant is the IEEE 802.1X/WPA component that is used in the client stations. It implements key negotiation with a WPA Authenticator and it controls the roaming and IEEE 802.11 authentication/association of the wlan driver.


Install wpa_supplicant from the official repositories.

Optionally wpa_supplicant_gui can be installed which provides wpa_gui; a graphical frontend for wpa_supplicant using the qt4 toolkit.

Connecting with wpa_cli

To associate with a wireless access point (WAP) using wpa_supplicant, use the including command line tool wpa_cli. In order to use wpa_cli, a control interface must be specified for wpa_supplicant. Do this by creating a config file containing ctrl_interface=/var/run/wpa_supplicant.

Tip: Refer to the provided /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf for details.

To enable saving changes made using wpa_cli, append the line update_config=1 to the configuration file. Start wpa_supplicant with

 # wpa_supplicant -B -i interface -c /path/to/config

Invoke wpa_cli with no arguments to get an interactive prompt (>). The prompt has tab completion and descriptions of completed commands. The command scan initiates a scan; a notification is issued when the scan is complete. Then:

 > scan_results
 bssid / frequency / signal level / flags / ssid
 00:00:00:00:00:00 2462 -49 [WPA2-PSK-CCMP][ESS] MYSSID
 11:11:11:11:11:11 2437 -64 [WPA2-PSK-CCMP][ESS] ANOTHERSSID

To associate with MYSSID, tell wpa_supplicant about it. Each network is indexed numerically, so the first network will have index zero. The PSK can be provided without quotes as an alternative to providing the passphrase in this example:

 > add_network
 > set_network 0 ssid "MYSSID"
 > set_network 0 psk "passphrase"
 > enable_network 0
 <2>CTRL-EVENT-CONNECTED - Connection to 00:00:00:00:00:00 completed (reauth) [id=0 id_str=]

To save this network in the configuration file,

 > save_config

Now that association with the WAP is complete, obtain an IP address via dhcpcd or using the iproute2 tools.


wpa_supplicant provides a reference configuration file located at /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf which contains detailed documentation for the all available options and their utilisation.

In its simplest form, a configuration file requires only a network block. For example:


This can easily be generated using the wpa_passphrase tool. For example:

$ wpa_passphrase essid passphrase

Once you have a configuration file, you can run wpa_supplicant daemon and connect to the wireless network:

# wpa_supplicant -B -i interface -c configuration_file
Tip: Both wpa_supplicant and wpa_passphrase can be combined to associate with almost all WPA2 (Personal) networks:
# wpa_supplicant -B -i interface -c <(wpa_passphrase essid passphrase)

All that remains is to simply connect using a static IP or DHCP. For example:

# dhcpcd interface

Maintaining a custom configuration

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements. See Help:Style for reference.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: This section is planned to be rewritten with a clearer structure and direction and more attention will be given to maintaining networks and controlling them effectively. (Discuss in Talk:WPA supplicant#)
Note: To discover your network interface name, issue the ip link command.

As discussed above we can make use of wpa_passphrase to generate a basic configuration which we can augment with additional networks and options of our choosing. This may be necessary for more advanced networks employing extensive use of EAP.

Firstly we will use wpa_passphrase to create our basic configuration file.

# wpa_passphrase essid passphrase > /etc/wpa_supplicant/foobar.conf
Tip: Some unusually complex passphrases may require input from a file:
# wpa_passphrase essid < passphrase.txt > /etc/wpa_supplicant/foobar.conf

Next add a ctrl_interface so that we may control the wpa_supplicant daemon. We can allow wpa_cli to edit this configuration by setting update_config=1.

ctrl_interface=DIR=/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel # allow control for members in the 'wheel' group


Multiple network blocks may be appended to this configuration.

To start your network simply run the following:

# ip link set interface up
# wpa_supplicant -B -D nl80211 -i interface -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/foobar.conf
# dhcpcd -A interface
Note: nl80211 is preferred over the deprecated wext driver. For a list of supported drivers see the output of wpa_supplicant -h.

For networks of varying complexity please study the examples provided in the default /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file.

Enabling with systemd

In order to enable wireless at boot, enable wpa_supplicant on your particular wireless interface. To get connectivity with DHCP, enable dhcpcd.service as well. Finally, to handle possible ethernet connections, install ifplugd and enable it on your ethernet interface. For instance, the invocations might look like

# systemctl enable wpa_supplicant@wlp3s1
# systemctl enable dhcpcd
# systemctl enable ifplugd@enp5s2

WPA Supplicant handles roaming for all the SSIDs in its configuration file, and ifplugd will configure ethernet and bring down wireless when an ethernet cable is plugged into the machine. dhcpcd takes care of leasing an IP on all interfaces.

It is likely that wpa_supplicant@.service will have to be modified so that it will read the proper configuration file. To override the ExecStart= line, create the following:

ExecStart=/usr/bin/wpa_supplicant -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/bar.conf -i%i

The WantedBy= section in the current version is incorrect (bug report). If the line in wpa_supplicant@.service does not match your interface name (wlan0), it will be necessary to copy the service file to /etc/systemd/system and edit it to reflect


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