How to make wpa_cli work in NixOS

Revision history
Tags: nixos


More than once I’ve found myself stuck at a place without a network connection in need of scanning for nearby access points. However, wpa_cli does not work out of the box when you’ve only set up your known SSID’s and pre-shared keys using

networking.wireless = {
  enabled = true;
  networks."my-ssid".psk = "helloworld42";

Enabling the control interface

The following line tends to be put at the top of the wpa_supplicant configuration file:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel

This makes the control interface accessible by the wheel group. The manpage for wpa_supplicant.conf(5) states

[ctrl_interface] allow frontend (e.g., wpa_cli) to be used by all users in ‘wheel’ group

I’ve always added this line when I configured my /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf by hand in other operating systems, but I guess I forgot why I did it.

In NixOS this line should be added using extraConfig:

networking.wireless.extraConfig = ''
  ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel

The resulting wpa_supplicant.conf will then look something (if not exactly) like this:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=wheel





If you have any comments or feedback, please send me an e-mail. (stig at stigok dotcom).

Did you find any typos, incorrect information, or have something to add? Then please propose a change to this post.