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How do we manage wireless connections without a network manager?

This excellent answer walked me through connecting to the protected wireless network at home. In short,

nano /etc/network/interfaces  # enable dhcp
service networking start
nano /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf  # indicate ssid and password
ifdown wlan0  # name determined by 'ip a show'
ip a flush wlan0
ifup wlan0
wpa_supplicant -Dnl80211 -c /root/wpa_supplicant.conf -iwlan0 -B
dhclient wlan0

Another answer suggests adding this to /etc/network/interfaces:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
address ASSIGNED_IP
netmask 255.255.255.0
gateway THE_GATEWAY
wireless-essid YOURSSID
wireless-key WIRELESSKEY_HERE

Because over time I will be encountering different networks, with different ssdi and password, I was wondering which would be the best way to approach this, without a network manager. Priorities:

  • Don't disclose ssid and passwords if my laptop is compromised - those are sensitive information that people have entrusted me with.
  • Don't clutter /etc with a ton of custom(user-created) files.
  • Don't use high-level utilities, like network-manager or wicd.
  • 1
    Read up on roaming mode in the wpa_supplicant documentation. That's how I do it on my laptop. The goals "don't store SSID/passwords locally" and "use wpa_supplicant only" are mutually exclusive, though. If you don't want to store SSID/passwords locally, where do you want to store them? Is encrypting the harddisk of your laptop sufficient to allow local storage? – dirkt Apr 29 '17 at 11:05
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To accomplish the conditions:

Don't disclose ssid and passwords if my laptop is compromised - those are sensitive information that people have entrusted me with.

Don't clutter /etc with a ton of custom(user-created) files.

Don't use high-level utilities, like network-manager or wicd.

You should run wpa_supplicant as follows:

wpa_supplicant -B -Dnl80211 -iwlan0 -c<(wpa_passphrase "Your-SSID" Your-Passwd)
dhclient wlan0

You don't need to create a wpa_supplicant.conf .

You don't need to store your SSID and Password under /etc/network/interfaces

You don't need Network-manager , wicd ...

to correctly connect through wpa_supplicant (If you have the NetworkManager installed) , you should stop the NetworkManager.service before runing the wpa_supplicant command:

systemctl stop NetworkManager.service
systemctl disable NetworkManager.service
  • One should point out that under this setup, the user needs to enter SID and password every single time, for all APs. Also, the command will be visible in bash history etc. – dirkt Apr 30 '17 at 5:10
  • @dirkt Yes , the weakness of the network command wpa_passphrase is displaying the password on the terminal. – GAD3R Apr 30 '17 at 10:08

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