I am failing to connect to open wifi networks using wpa_cli. I am trying to connect to the open wifi networks in the following way:

$ sudo wpa_cli -i wlp3s0
> add_network
> set_network 0 ssid "Guest"
> enable_network 0

When I try to enable the network sometimes it just replies OK and then nothing. Few times, I have seen it to reply following:


wpa_cli is working without any issue for password protected networks.


1 Answer 1


Usually to connect to a network requires to use some authentication mechanism. This is handled among other settings by wpa_supplicant's key_mgmt variable:

# key_mgmt: list of accepted authenticated key management protocols
# WPA-PSK = WPA pre-shared key (this requires 'psk' field)
# WPA-EAP = WPA using EAP authentication
# IEEE8021X = IEEE 802.1X using EAP authentication and (optionally) dynamically
# generated WEP keys
# NONE = WPA is not used; plaintext or static WEP could be used
# If not set, this defaults to: WPA-PSK WPA-EAP

Connecting to an open SSID means not using any authentication nor cipher: the parameter has to be changed from default to NONE as written above (plaintext case).

This value can be set dynamically through the wpa_cli command before enabling (the use) of the network as many other values:

> help set_network
  set_network <network id> <variable> <value> = set network variables (shows
    list of variables when run without arguments)

This command should be inserted before enable_network:

set_network 0 key_mgmt NONE

An example run could look like this:

# wpa_cli -i wlp3s0
wpa_cli v2.9
Interactive mode

> add_network
> set_network 0 ssid "Guest"
> set_network 0 key_mgmt NONE
> enable_network 0
<3>SME: Trying to authenticate with 12:34:56:78:9a:bc (SSID='Guest' freq=2437 MHz)
<3>Trying to associate with 12:34:56:78:9a:bc (SSID='Guest' freq=2437 MHz)
<3>Associated with 12:34:56:78:9a:bc
<3>CTRL-EVENT-CONNECTED - Connection to 12:34:56:78:9a:bc completed [id=0 id_str=]
  • I was expecting some kind of key management. Didn't know how to do it. help command in the interactive mode or man wpa_cli didn't help. Thank you so much. It is working now. Aug 18, 2021 at 21:36

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