© 2011 Warren Block

Last updated 2011-05-19

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Setting up wireless networking on FreeBSD is not as complex as in the past. Here’s the short form. The examples that follow show a RealTek wireless device using the urtw(4) driver.

Setup For Automatic Wireless Connection

If needed, load driver modules in /boot/loader.conf.


Create /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf with SSID and PSK.


Modify /etc/rc.conf to create wlan0 and connect:

ifconfig_wlan0="WPA SYNCDHCP"

On startup, FreeBSD will automatically connect.

That’s it, pretty much all you need. Stop here unless you want to manually start a wireless connection.

Command Line Manual Method

# kldload if_urtw  1
# ifconfig wlan0 create wlandev urtw0  2
# wpa_supplicant -B -i wlan0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf  3
# dhclient wlan0  4
1 If your wireless card driver isn’t built into the GENERIC kernel, or you use a custom kernel without it, the driver module must be loaded first. Some devices also need firmware modules, usually provided by a port. See the man page for your device.
2 Create a generic wireless device for the wireless network code to use.
3 Run wpa_supplicant(8) to associate to an access point defined in /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf.
4 Get an IP address and DNS servers.

More Detail

Appendix A: Things To Use Or Avoid

WEP is insecure, avoid it. WPA2 is much better, use it. If you have old equipment that doesn’t support WPA, smash it with a hammer or other convenient blunt instrument.

TKIP has some flaws. Use AES.

"Hidden" SSIDs are not really hidden. They make network setup more difficult and provide no real security benefits.