I recently bought a Pi with the intention of running Pi MusicBox on it. I have no screen and no keyboard, so I checked whether it would be possible to operate the Pi headlessly. I found out that Pi MusicBox should support a number of USB WiFi adapters, so I bought an Edimax USB WiFi adapter.

I put the Pi MusicBox image onto an SD Card, adjusted the WiFi settings in the config file, plugged in the WiFi adapter and powered the Pi with a 1A power supply. The power led went on and the ACT led flickered from time to time (I guess it flickers when the SD card is accessed). But the WiFi adapter status led never turned on and the Pi never connected to my WLAN. So I tried booting it without the WiFi adapter, but with an Ethernet cable plugged in. When I powered the Pi on, the Ethernet leds stayed dark.

I then tried the same thing using the official Raspian Wheezy image, but had the same result: the Pi is not showing up in the network and the Ethernet leds stay dark.

How should I go on debugging this? Should I try reading boot messages using a serial cable? Or is my Pi just defect? I have an ungood feeling because of the dark ethernet leds...

When should the Ethernet leds turn on during booting? As soon as a cable is connected and the Pi is powered? Or only as soon as the network is fully functional?

Thanks for any hints!

  • 1
    If you could attach a monitor or TV temporarily, you could read the boot messages and see what is going on. Serial cable could work as well.
    – Frepa
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:43
  • You have get a look at what is happening. That the eth leds don't go on implies the kernel failed to load properly.
    – goldilocks
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:51
  • I have no HDMI display available... Do I get the same results from using a serial cable? Is the boot log sent to the serial port from the beginning? Or is it also something that needs to be loaded during the boot process and therefore could probably fail?
    – severin
    Aug 23, 2013 at 15:36
  • Use the component video cable to plug it into any old TV you have around, and use that to view the boot process? (That's probably simpler and quicker than serial to get setup, you can do serial later!)
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 23, 2013 at 15:44
  • Do you have a DVI monitor? Most modern monitors take DVI or VGA. You would be able to get an adapter to convert HDMI to DVI. It's invaluable when trying to diagnose why a headless Pi won't boot. Aug 24, 2013 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


I personally had a fair few issues connecting my RPi for the first time over wifi. I strongly recommend you connect the pi up whether you pop round to a mates house with hdmi available of use the component video ( it displays the same thing so makes no difference).

The advantage of being able to view the command line is that you will be able to much more accurately troubleshoot the problem. I would initially start by trying to connect using Ethernet, you will probably find that this happens automatically (or it did for me, may not if you have some security set up). At this point if it all runs fine you can move onto the wifi. (Make sure you don't have the wifi adapter plugged in when you do this)

Next I would suggest that you plug in the wifi adapter and turn on the pi. Depending on your wifi adapter there may be some indication that shows that it is powered up and trying to connect/connected to wifi. If your version has something like this and it does not do so you may find it is unable to draw enough current (mine doesn't work in an unpowered USB hub for this reason... Took me a good week to figure that one out). A further advantage is that you can now edit your wifi settings and see if the ones you did on the SD card worked. Use


You will be presented with three options, make sure the settings are filled in for the wifi one and not your wired connection. A quick google search will show you how to do this.

Unfortunately can't help you any more than this and also I am not sure about the Ethernet LEDs

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