Raspberry Pi – Wireless configuration

Wireless configuration on Raspbian, and for my particular dongle - a Digicom USBWAVE54 - was pretty straight forward. It requires two steps:

  • Drivers installation
  • Wireless interface configuration
  • Drivers installation

    This section is dongle dependent. I had an old Digicom USBWAVE54 Dongle, which is based on a Zydas ZD1211 chipset, so here's how I proceeded to install the correct drivers for my dongle:

    # apt-get install zd1211-firmware

    which will install the zd1211rw kernel module, loaded when needed.

  • Wireless interface configuration

    Once the correct drivers have been installed, we can test whether everything is working so far by plugging the dongle in and checking the kernel messages with:

    $ dmesg

    To check the available wireless networks around, run:

    $ iwlist wlan0 scan

    It's time now to configure the connection parameters for the WiFi interface. Let's create the configuration file for your WiFi network of choice:

    # nano /etc/wpa.conf

    and put the following data in it:

      pairwise=CCMP TKIP
      group=CCMP TKIP

    change YOUR-SSID and WPA-PASSWORD accordingly.
    If you want to protect your wpa-password from curious eyes, you can use wpa_passphrase to save an encrypted version of it in the config file as follows:

    wpa_passphrase YOUR-SSID WPA-PASSWORD >> /etc/wpa.conf

    Now add the following lines in /etc/network/interfaces to use a dynamic IP assigned by dhcp:

    allow-hotplug wlan0
    auto wlan0
    iface wlan0 inet dhcp

    or the following to use a static IP configuration:

    allow-hotplug wlan0
    auto wlan0
    iface wlan0 inet static
      address 192.168.1.xxx

    Where xxx is the last byte of the local ip of your choice.
    Adapt the lines above to your actual network configuration, your router may have a different ip/submask to deal with.
    Then just restart the networking service with:

    /etc/init.d/networking restart

    Note: if you can connect to the RasPi, but it can't connect to the internet, you are probably missing a route entry for wlan0.

    Check it with:

    $ route

    and if necessary, add it with:

    # route add default gw wlan0

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11 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi – Wireless configuration

  • Lululemon

    My sister saved this web publication for me and I have been reading through it for the past couple hrs. This is really going to aid me and my friends for our class project. By the way, I like the way you write.

  • Bob Fearnley

    Didn’t work for me but I got a bit further than with other help sites.

    sudo dmesg No longer shows loads of errors associated with the zd1221. The zd1211 entry looks Ok.

    sudo iwlist wlan0 scan Now lists all the local access points correctlt.

    sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart Runs without error

    But the led on the dongle just blinks very slowly and no network access. A ping to the ip from another PC returns nothing.

    Think it’s time to bin the R’pi and forget about Linux – at this rate it will never manage to superceed Windows!

    • SLB Post author

      Your Pi can’t supply enough power for your dongle. Use it with a powered usb hub and that should fix your problem.
      If you want to bin it, send it to me instead, lol : )

    • Bob Fearnley

      Being an electronics engineer of 45 years standing and and IT engineer of some 30 years experience that was how I started out!

      Why is it that every ‘expert’ always offers that as a fix?


      Many thanks for your input, I shall try that.

    • SLB Post author

      Bob, I gave you a solution that works for at least 80-90% of the people who have had the same problem in the raspberry pi community, I indeed said “should”, and not “will”. I think you shall accept any advice without complain. Furthermore, you said you think it’s time to bin the R’pi and forget about Linux – at this rate it will never manage to superceed Windows, those words don’t sound to be of an experienced expert, rather, that’s how we get experience, so no need to boast about experience, especially when it brings nothing in the particular case. Please be grateful for any advice you get, and remember that what works for some people, may not work for others when a problem is described in quite a vague way.
      Good luck, cheers.

    • Gerwin

      Add the network {…} to the /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file instead of the /etc/wpa.conf. That fixed the problem for me.

    • Gerwin

      and for some reason if manually have to do sudo ifdown wlan0; sudo ifup wlan0.