View source for Neo FreeRunner Wifi

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Return to Neo FreeRunner Wifi.

Personal tools

This page documents the wireless networking solutions commonly known as WLAN or WiFi.

There are other ways to enable wireless communications on the Neo, including Bluetooth. For Bluetooth solutions, see How to use bluetooth to transfer data between Neo and Desk-top and Manually using Bluetooth.

Using the GUI on 2008.8

In the Settings application on Om 2008.8, there's a "WiFi" item. It should work fairly well in stable-updated 2008.8 (even with WPA2).

If it says "WiFi unknown", you can delete the /etc/volatives.cache file and reboot. It should work after that.[1] After connecting using the GUI, you may also need to run "udhcpc eth0" manually in the terminal to get DNS entries added to your resolv.conf. You may also need to run "ifdown usb0" to remove the routing issue caused by having both interfaces up at the same time. Some users have reported that 802.11g modulation needs to be enabled on APs to allow the FreeRunner to connect (The hardware is suppose to support 802.11b/g).

Otherwise there's also lint-wifi. Refer to the section below, "Available Software" to find out what else might be available.

How can I tell what Access Points (APs) are visible to me?

You can connect to wireless networks through wireless access points. If you want to know the names of all the access points that are currently visible to you, you can perform a scan with this command:

root@om-gta02:~# iwlist eth0 scan

If anything is visible you will get a list that looks something like this:

eth0      Scan completed :
          Cell 01 - Address: 00:16:B6:DE:77:58
                    Frequency:2.437 GHz (Channel 6)
                    Quality=9/94  Signal level=-86 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on
          Cell 02 - Address: 00:21:29:AA:10:97
                    ESSID:"CandT Network"
                    Frequency:2.437 GHz (Channel 6)
                    Quality=39/94  Signal level=-56 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on
          Cell 03 - Address: 00:14:95:1B:8E:B9
                    Frequency:2.437 GHz (Channel 6)
                    Quality=5/94  Signal level=-90 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on
          Cell 04 - Address: 00:E0:98:52:3D:78
                    Frequency:2.437 GHz (Channel 6)
                    Quality=36/94  Signal level=-59 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on

If you want to connect to an unsecured network run:



WPA is an encryption method for securing your wireless network.

Using wpa_supplicant manually

Create and edit a suitable /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf.

Bring up your wireless connection:

root@om-gta02:~# ifup eth0
root@om-gta02:~# wpa_supplicant -ieth0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -B
root@om-gta02:~# udhcpc eth0

Using WPA and /etc/network/interfaces

Once you have a /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf file, add a line under the eth0 entry in /etc/network/interfaces:

iface eth0 inet dhcp
   wpa-conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Save your changes and run:

 # ifdown eth0 && ifup eth0

You'll get a lot of messages, like ioctl[SIOCSIWENCODEEXT]: Operation not supported and sed: unrecognized option `--quiet', they appear to be harmless. The "--quiet" error message can be avoided by replacing "sed --quiet" with "sed -n" in /etc/wpa_supplicant/*.sh


wpa_supplicant.conf explained

The highest priority is tried first then falls back to the next highest number.

priority=100 1st


# Simple case: WPA-PSK, PSK as an ASCII passphrase, allow all valid ciphers

#try open AP regardless of its SSID.
# change root password before you go roaming around it could prove dangerous
priority=1  #try any open AP last

A more in depth explanation can be found here:;a=blob_plain;f=wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

Sample wpa_supplicant.conf

# WPA2:
       ssid="your ssid"
       pairwise=CCMP TKIP
       group=TKIP CCMP
       psk="secret key"

# WPA:
      psk="secret key"

# WEP:

# Open:
     ssid="your ssid"

Other sample wpa_supplicant.conf files

Tom Yates documents his success here


WEP is an encryption method for securing your wireless network. WEP is generally considered to be weak, you should use WPA instead if possible.

Using iwconfig manually

Note that for WEP our iwconfig requires a more specific format than generic iwconfig.

The canonical way of running iwconfig for WEP would be something like this:

  1. iwconfig eth0 key A4BEB3B8EC essid xyz

Two things are important here:

  • the key must be in HEX. iwconfig will not do anything useful if the key is given as a string. Here is a handy ASCII string to HEX converter.
  • the ESSID must follow the key.

If an incorrect key was set, please stop all activity on the interface for at least two minutes (i.e., killall udhcpc and ifconfig eth0 down), then issue the correct iwconfig command and retry.

Using WEP and /etc/network/interfaces

 iface eth0 inet dhcp
   wireless-key my_wep_key
   wireless-essid my_essid
iface eth0 inet dhcp
   wpa-wep-key0 my_wep_key
   wpa-key-mgmt NONE
   wpa-ssid my_essid

Save your changes and run:

 # ifdown eth0 && ifup eth0

Known Issues

GUI doesn't work in all cases

The GUI seems to have some issues that prevent it from working in all cases.

If a Wi-Fi connection can not be made with the GUI, open a shell and use iwconfig manually.

iwconfig doesn't work in all cases

Note that for some reason our iwconfig requires a more constrained format than the generic iwconfig. See using iwconfig manually.

Anecdotal solutions

These solutions worked for some people:

Disable power management

Some APs apparently get upset by power managed devices, and the Freerunner enables power management of the wifi by default to preserve battery. One user's wrt54g certainly gets upset from time to time if he connect with the FreeRunner, sometimes refusing to talk to _anything_ over wifi afterwards until rebooted.

Modified script

"I changed the script a little:

Exec=xterm -e "ifconfig eth0 down \
iwconfig eth0 txpower off channel 0 \
while killall wpa_supplicant; do echo 'Killing wpa_sup'; done \
killall udhcpc \
wpa_supplicant -i eth0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -D wext -B \
sleep 10; udhcpc"

Now it is working every time. I am using 2008.latest (081004) and a linksys WAP54G accesspoint,

Use a different channel

"Could not get it to work properly on channel 11, so I set my accesspoint to channel 1."

Wake up from wireless (wow)

Wi-Fi module constantly drain currents after module power up, for wi-fi SIP phone or some application need long standby time, will need wake up from wireless function for power saving. There is a sleep mode that Ar6k supported for wake up from wireless.
export ATH_CROSS_COMPILE_TYPE=arm-angstrom-linux-gnueabi-

Debian package:

dpkg -i wmiconfig_0.0.18-1_armel.deb

Basically, it's achieved via wmiconfig tool to issue IOCTL if we want ar6k wifi module to generate interrupt to host controller. The procedure to enable wakeup-on-wireless(wow) is listed here:

1. wmiconfig --sethostmode asleep /* to tell ar6k what host's current is */
2. wmiconfig --setwowmode enable /* enable wow function */
3. wmiconfig --addpattern 0 1 33 01 ff /* add packet filter pattern, this is the ICMP filter pattern */
4. apm -s
5. ping IP_of_Neo
6. The GPIO1 pin would be pulled up. The system would resume then.
7. wmiconfig --sethostmode awake /* The firmware of ar6k will pull low the GPIO1 pin */

--addwowpattern <list-id> <pattern-size> <pattern-offset> <pattern> <pattern-mask>

Here are some addwowpattern commands:

Protocol type=IP=0800 Protocol type in IP header=ICMP=01

- To filter for IP packets(offset 22)
wmiconfig --addwowpattern 0 2 22 0800 ffff
- To filter for ICMP packets (offset 33)
wmiconfig --addwowpattern 0 1 33 01 ff

A very ugly /etc/init.d/wlan startscript

# wlan	This shell script starts and stops wlan.
# processname: wlan

# Source function library.
#. /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions
# "written" by HdR


# test -f /etc/default/$prog && . /etc/default/$prog

start() {
	echo -n "Starting $prog: "
	ifconfig eth0 up
	wpa_supplicant -ieth0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -B
	sleep 10
	udhcpc eth0
	return $RETVAL

stop() {
	# Stop daemons.
	echo -n "Shutting down $prog: "
        killall wpa_supplicant
	ifconfig eth0 down
#        killproc gpsd
	return $RETVAL

# See how we were called.
case "$1" in
	echo "Usage: $0 {start|stop|restart}"
	exit 1

exit $RETVAL

Note: Don't forget to make this script executable with "chmod +x <filename>"

Route internet connection through Wifi rather than USB

Wifi is faster than USB, so it is a good idea to tell the FreeRunner to connect through it. Put the following in /etc/network/interfaces under eth0:

up route del default gw

This will remove your computer as the default gateway and use the wireless one when the interface is brought up. User nickd reports that sometimes it fails so he has had to put it in twice.

ssh into FR over WiFi

dropbear, the ssh server, is configured to listen on the USB interface only. Wireless interfaces like wlan or bluetooth are disabled for security reasons (empty root password).

If you want to enable ssh over WiFi, change the /etc/default/dropbear from:

 DROPBEAR_PORT=`ip addr list usb0 | awk 'BEGIN { FS="[ /]+" } /inet / { print  $3 }'`:22

(which actually only prepends the usb0 ip address before the :22)


  • Be careful with this config file since it can close the only door into your phone.
  • Set a root password!

Available Software

Programs in development providing GUI interfaces to administer WiFi connections:

External links