This works to initialize a headless RaspberryPi connected by Wifi (no screen/keyboard never needed attached to RPi):

  1. Get a Raspbian Stretch Lite from https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/ and write it to the micro SD card with Win32diskimager or Etcher

  2. Add an empty ssh file in the boot partition

  3. Boot on Linux (or boot a Linux VM on Windows), or use Linux File Systems for Windows in order to edit /etc/network/intefaces and add:

    auto lo
    iface lo inet loopback
    allow-hotplug wlan0
    iface wlan0 inet dhcp
    wpa-ssid "MyRouter"
    wpa-psk "92dc84ee7e7032be9142828023912e77"
    allow-hotplug eth0
    iface eth0 inet dhcp

This works, I've done it many times in the past years.

Problem: for a Windows user, step #3 is not very convenient. An alternative would be to initially connect via ethernet cable, SSH with putty, and edit /etc/network/intefaces with nano, but it's not very handy too, because it requires to connect the RPi to the router with a cable.

Question: which method would allow to initialize a headless Raspberry Pi, including the Wifi ssid/password setting, 100% from Windows?

I see a few options:

  • A) Would there be a way, on a fresh Stretch Lite install, only by modifying files in the boot partition (accessible from Windows), to configure Raspbian to use a file intefaces in the boot partition instead of the usual /etc/network/interfaces ?

  • B) Would there be a way to put a script copyinterfaces.sh in the boot partition:

    sudo cp /boot/interfaces /etc/network/interfaces

    that would be launched on the first boot of the RPi? Then we could put both the intefaces file (written in the boot partition - easy from Windows) and the copyinterfaces.sh file in the boot partition, and during the first boot, the boot partition's interfaces file would be copied to /etc/network/interfaces

  • C) another idea?

Once again, the goal is: to be able to set up a headless RPi connected by wifi, without using a keyboard/screen/ethernet cable ever, 100% from Windows, so that we can SSH with putty and never have to boot Linux (some users don't have any Linux installation), and never have to use an ethernet cable.

2 Answers 2


See Headless Raspbian WiFi Setup in How to set up networking/WiFi

Specifically Raspbian checks the contents of the boot directory for a file called wpa_supplicant.conf, and will copy the file into /etc/wpa_supplicant, replacing any existing wpa_supplicant.conf file that may be there. The file in the boot directory is then removed. This can be used to enable headless setup.

NOTE the etc/network/intefaces you listed is obsolete and is not needed. Even in 2015 it would have been poor practice but it has been replaced by dhcpcd which is far more robust.

  • Yes. (I don't use Windows, but it certainly works - you may need to use LF line endings rather than CR/LF which can be done with Notepad)
    – Milliways
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 10:28
  • See the link for sample files.
    – Milliways
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 10:30
  • @Basj If you have another question, ask another question properly. And no, don't replace those paths. wpa_supplicant != wpa_supplicant.conf. The paths are part of the configuration, they don't refer to the configuration file itself (which would be a bit non-sensical). Also, that file is moved before it is used ("Raspbian checks the contents of the boot directory for a file called wpa_supplicant.conf, and will copy the file into /etc/wpa_supplicant").
    – goldilocks
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 14:36

Additional information to the accepted answer:

  1. Write the Raspbian Stretch Lite image to the SD card

  2. Create a ssh empty file in the boot partition

  3. Create a wpa_supplicant.conf file in the boot partition containing:

    ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
  4. Boot the RPi and connect it via SSH (for example with putty.exe from Windows). It works, 100% from Windows!

Important note: I've tried with only a wpa_supplicant.conf file containing only:


but it did not work; the other lines (update_config...) seem mandatory.


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