I've developed a headless system that uses RPi OS Lite. I need to move it to another location that has different WiFi logon credentials. It seems that I need to either create a wpa-supplicant.conf file in /boot and/or edit the wpa-supplicant.conf file in /etc/wpa-supplicant with the new logon credentials. What's the solution?

  • It seems that I need to either .... - correct, either of those methods works Dec 11, 2022 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


I've never used the "add wpa.supplicant to /boot" method, and I am not sure if that works beyond the first time, and/or if there is a non-default /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf already present.

In any case, what that does is copy the file from the boot partition into /etc in the root fs -- that's the one that wpa_supplicant actually uses (or at least the normative/conventional one, this is dependent on its command line arguments).

So your best bet is to:

  • Make sure there is not a wpa_supplicant in /boot.
  • Add the correct conf to /etc/. You don't have to edit the one that's there, BTW, you can just replace it, as long as you are sure it works; a common practice when replacing/customizing conf files is to move the default one to a file with a special suffix like .default or .dist (for "distribution"). This should be owned root with permissions set 600.
  • goldielocks, thanks for the response. I looked at the file in /etc/ and noticed my password was replaced with a long key. Will that make a difference? The not having the file in /boot is what I was looking for. I don't want to go through the rebuilding the system again. It resides in a project box and the SD card is difficult to get to. Dec 11, 2022 at 16:39
  • Presuming that conf still works to connect, it sounds like what might be going on is this: unix.stackexchange.com/q/278946/25985
    – goldilocks
    Dec 11, 2022 at 17:16

Once ANY Pi running Raspberry Pi OS has been correctly setup initially you can simply change wpa_supplicant by putting in the boot partition (provided it has the correct country code). This will be removed on next boot.

This is actually preferable to attempting to copy a file to /etc/wpa_supplicant as it sets the correct permissions.
I do this routinely when I modify my system which has a dozen networks for different locations.

NOTE does not work for Ubuntu and AFAIK if using Network Manager.

NOTE the boot partition is only mounted in /boot AFTER boot.

The password can be in plain text or a 256-bit PSK formed from the SSID and passphrase by the wpa_passphrase utility. This is encoded, not strictly encryption although it is practically impossible to reconstruct the plain text password.

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