I was trying to set up a headless Raspi 3 by putting my wpa_supplicant.conf into rootfs/etc/wpa_supplicant/, but it only started working once I put it into the boot partition.

I thought the OS would just copy the file to /etc/wpa..., although there seems to be a bit more logic that I did not consider. Could anyone explain to me what happens at boot with that wpa_supplicant.conf besides simple copying and why directly putting it there didn't work?

  • 1
    why directly putting it there didn't work - perhaps you did something wrong when you did this - it should work just as well Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 1:09
  • The directory rootfs/etc/wpa_supplicant/ is wrong. You have to put it into /etc/wpa_supplicant/. What error messages do you get?
    – Ingo
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 13:10
  • the rootfs part meant the partition, so the dir was correct. I did not see any errors since the setup was headless...
    – Daniel D.
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


At boot Raspbian will copy wpa_supplicant.conf from the FAT partition containing the bootloader etc. overwriting any existing file in /etc/wpa_supplicant/ otherwise /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf will remain unchanged.

Whether it works depends on HOW you "put it there".

NOTE anything put in the FAT boot partition will not have appropriate permissions. These are set by the OS when copied.

It can also be done manually - the requisite permissions are -rw------- 1 root root

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