I have a use case where I need to read USB drive for wifi credential and add it to wpa_supplicant.conf file. It seems possible to add those details into the wpa_supplicant.conf. But I can see there will be multiple entries for the same SSID and password whenever USB with same network details are inserted.

I can see three possible ways but not sure how to implement that -

  1. I wanted to create a custom conf file and to somehow link this new file to wpa_supplicant.conf. So that I only need to override that custom file with wifi details. Is this something possible?

  2. Can I directly connect to wifi using that SSID and Password without adding those details to wpa_supplicant.conf?

  3. Is there any conf parser that can be used to check same SSID and Password and then add entries?

3 Answers 3


As far as I understand you want to get the WiFi credentials from an USB drive to be used for the current WiFi connection. There are several ways to do it. I will use a simple example bash script.

First solution: the credential file on the USB drive is just the wpa_supplicant.conf

This is very simple. You can just set a symlink to the credential file:

rpi ~$ sudo rm /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
rpi ~$ sudo ln /media/usb-drive/wpa_supplicant.conf /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

When the credential file has changed, maybe with mounting another USB-drive, then just reconnect wpa_supplicant with:

rpi ~$ sudo wpa_cli -i wlan0 disconnect
rpi ~$ sudo wpa_cli -i wlan0 reconfigure
rpi ~$ sudo wpa_cli -i wlan0 reconnect

Second solution: modify wpa_supplicant.conf

As the credential file I will use this:

rpi ~$ cat /media/usb-drive/credential.conf
rpi ~$

and use this script ./change_credential.sh:


# get credentials in $SSID and $PSK

# modify wpa_supplicant.conf in place using sed
/bin/sed -i "s/ssid=\".*\"/ssid=\"$SSID\"/" $WPA_SUPPLICANT_CONF
/bin/sed -i "s/psk=\".*\"/psk=\"$PSK\"/" $WPA_SUPPLICANT_CONF

# switch the connection with wpa_cli
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 disconnect
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 reconfigure
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 reconnect

Don't forget to make the script executable and execute it:

rpi ~$ chmod +x change_credential.sh
rpi ~$ sudo ./change_credential.sh /media/usb-drive/credential.conf

Third solution: manage wpa_supplicant direct

Here we do not use a wpa_supplicant.conf. We do everything on the fly. The credential file is the same as from the second solution. For example I have this script ./change_connection.sh:


# get credentials in $SSID and $PSK

# manage the connection with wpa_cli
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 disconnect
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 remove_network 0
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 add_network
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 set_network 0 ssid \"$SSID\"
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 set_network 0 psk \"$PSK\"
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 enable_network 0
/sbin/wpa_cli -i wlan0 reconnect

Use it with:

rpi ~$ chmod +x change_connection.sh
rpi ~$ sudo ./change_connection.sh /media/usb-drive/credential.conf

Of course you are free to use your favorite programming language and make your own script/program to manage wpa_supplicant.

  • Thank you, I will try these solution and will get back to you.
    – Irfan
    May 14, 2019 at 10:22
  • I tested both scripts and none of them worked, the network data does not get added to the wpa_supplicant.conf file.
    – Cellcon
    Jul 5, 2022 at 19:35
  1. It should be possible to use a link. You would loose the original content, so why not just overwrite the file?

  2. I remember seeing configurations with a wpa_supplicant.conf.d directory, but my man page doesn't mention that.

  3. You don't need a full parser, just grep for ssid="SSID-Of-WLAN".


If someone still needs an automatable/scriptable solution for adding WiFi network data to the Raspberries wpa_supplicant.cfg file, one could use the following command, I could do it even without sudo privileges.

raspi-config nonint do_wifi_ssid_passphrase "MY SSID" "MY PASSWORD"

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