If i copy a wpa_supplicant.conf file on a fresh copied SD card (to the /boot folder), this information will be moved on boot to /etc/wpa_supplicant. With this i can access a raspberry over WIFI when there is no LAN, no Keyboard and no Monitor.

On Raspbian-lite this mechanism is not working. How can i config a raspbian lite image for WIFI access when i cant access the Raspberry over ethernet or with keyboard or screen?

Edit: I have only access to a Laptop w/ Windows and this is not mine.

  • 1
    why not use ln -s /boot/wpa_supplicant.conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf Jul 7, 2016 at 5:01
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    I would guess because if Joe could access the 2nd/root partition then he would not have to rely upon this mechanism in the first place. Maybe there is a "you can't have everything principle here" == sorry, out of luck. You want to use lite, not the full image. You don't want to have to use a monitor and keyboard to set-up. You don't want to have to set-up a VM/live CD/whatever in order to read/write an ext4 partition...eventually the list of demands becomes too long. Of course, if they do this for the full version I dunno why they won't for the lite. Can't be that big a deal.
    – goldilocks
    Jul 7, 2016 at 11:52
  • is copying certain files from /boot a documented feature even in Raspbian full? I have never heard of it and cant find any mention of it in any documentation...
    – Jeff Meden
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:22
  • @JeffMeden: seems like. i found an post in the RapberryPi.org Forum (raspberrypi.org/forums) but it seems that the post has been deleted. i was successfully test it on a fresh copy of rasbian-full. i copied the wpa_supplicant.conf to /boot, put the SD in the Pi, started and the PI conected to the WIFI. the wpa_supplicant was in /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf after shuting down the pi and check the /boot partiton this first file was gone... this behaviour is not documented but it works at least for the wifi config Jul 7, 2016 at 15:40

2 Answers 2


Edit: I have further tested this with Raspbian Jessie Lite (2017-03-02) and can happily confirm that this works absolutely fine on a Raspberry Pi Zero W. In short - it is possible to connect the Zero W to a WiFi network without ever plugging anything into the USB port.

Original reply: I can confirm that the latest version of Raspbian Jessie Lite (2017-01-11-raspbian-jessie-lite) does copy the wpa_supplicant.conf file into /etc/wap_supplicant upon first boot.

I've tested this on a Raspberry Pi Zero W however I have not yet managed to configure it correctly to connect to my network.

I confirmed the file was present by mounting the MicroSD card onto another Raspberry Pi that was already connected to my network.

  • Note: this functionality is provided by package raspberrypi-net-mods, and this is probably installable (sudo apt-get install raspberrypi-net-mods) even on Pis that aren't updated to the latest OS. Jul 12, 2017 at 0:16

I was reading lot and tried some approaches last days.

The comfortable function from Rasbian Jessie, where you can copy a wpa_supplicant.conf to /boot which will be moved to /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf after next boot, was announced here in the blog of raspberrypi.org.

In the raspberrypi.org forum, the user ShiftPlusOne (a Raspberry Engineer) indicate that this function is a part of the raspberrypi-net-mods package (but has dependencies to X gui.) I guess because of this dependencies the package isn't in Jessie-lite.

On a Windows system there are some 3rd party tools, which make the ext4 read/write accessible. i have successfully edited the /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf on the SD card with both ExtFS (free for personal use) and Ext2Fsd (Open Source). Well in my opinion the easiest approach would be a pen drive Linux booted instead of windows or a Virtual Machine with Linux.

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