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I have installed Debian Squeeze (minimal -- no DE) and I would like to connect to my network (via wireless) via command line. I have used Arch Linux before and I really liked the simplicity of netcfg which I used to connect to my network.

Is there an equivalent tool/program available in Debian that I can use?

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5 Answers

To connect to wireless via command line, the simplest thing is to install and use the wicd-curses package.

In alternative, you should fight with wpa_supplicant configuration files.

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-1 i hate wicd. it interferes with the network configuration files (/etc/network/interfaces in debian). maybe that's why you wrote 'fight' and not 'customize'? the syntax of that file is pitifully easy, is it not? –  ixtmixilix Feb 12 '12 at 1:14
    
there's also wicd-cli that might worth a shot –  Thiago F Macedo Feb 28 '13 at 20:57
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On a machine where the network configuration doesn't change often, you can set it in /etc/network/interfaces. This file is documented in the interfaces(5) man page. Install the wireless-tools and wpasupplicant packages to manage wireless interfaces. The wpasupplicant documentation has information on what to add to /etc/network/interfaces.

On a laptop where you need to set the wifi connection parameters anew for each network, it's a lot easier to use either Network Manager (which has no good command line client that I know of) or wicd, which does.

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It's also possible to get by with only wpa_supplicant, which besides the static configuration files also provides command interfaces like wpa_cli and wpa_gui for dynamic configuration and switching between networks. I use it because I prefer not being dependent on a GUI for network access. –  jw013 Feb 12 '12 at 7:35
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ceni is a good alternative, though it's not in the repo.

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Coming from Debian I had some trouble getting netcfg to do my bidding. I found it easier in debian just using wpa_supplicant something along the lines of

in /etc/network/interfaces:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-conf /etc/wpa.conf

and /etc/wpa.conf contains the meat of the wifi connection:

network={
  ssid="myssid"
  proto=RSN
  key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
  pairwise=CCMP TKIP
  group=CCMP TKIP
  psk="mywifi preshared key in clear"
}

you can have several network definitions. I use it for basic roaming.

The psk in clear text in not ideal. you can mitigate it by giving your conf file a 600 permission. There is also the possibility to store a hash of the key. Check the man wpa_supplicant for more details.

Finally this sets up a system wide network profile which is exactly my use case (headless wireless appliance). Wicd and the like are also able to handle user network profiles.

As a side note: it is possible to install and use network manager on the command line only. check man nmcli . this may or may not fit your need.

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There's a netcfg package listed here, have you tried installing it? or is it different from the arch netcfg?

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If you follows one of the links (for the various Debian versions) you get the following description: Warning: This package is intended for the use in building debian-installer images only. Do not install it on a normal Debian system. –  enzotib Feb 1 '12 at 16:40
    
It also appears to be an old version. –  bdowning Feb 1 '12 at 21:33
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