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Is there a way to join a password protected wireless network via the command line in installations of Ubuntu or Arch Linux with no desktop environment or any GUI installed?

Also, could this be done during a text-based installation and set up of those systems? Just for example, this might be important when installing (without a GUI) from a live CD where many packages need to be downloaded, but only a password protected wireless network is available.


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up vote 12 down vote accepted

The package you are looking for is called wpa_supplicant, it handles logging into protected wireless networks.

If you use it from Ubuntu (or other debian based distributions) it's fairly easy to set up and the process is rather simple (check the debian wiki for a few pointers). I don't know much about arch linux but it shouldn't differ too much.

If you still want the convenience you know from desktop environments or are for some other reason tied to network-manager you can use the cnetworkmanager (website) package that allows you to talk to the network-manager daemon from a terminal.

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Sound great, I will give it a try. However, can this be done during installation from a CD or other media?? – hpy Sep 27 '10 at 22:01
Depends on what packages the CD comes with, I'd have to check myself. But if you install from some text-based medium every distro will provide either one of these (there also is the package wicd which does basically what network-manager does but I have no experience with it and don't know any distribution that uses it as standard. – tante Sep 27 '10 at 22:10
small typo: it's wpa_supplicant – Riccardo Murri Sep 28 '10 at 7:30
@Riccardo: Thanks mate, I fixed it – tante Sep 28 '10 at 7:37
OK, thank you! – hpy Sep 28 '10 at 13:43

wicd-curse is good for you if you install wicd!

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As tante said, use wpa_supplicant.

Here is the ArchLinux wiki on it.

have fun :)

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