There's a built-in wireless network card in the Raspberry Pi 3. I had some initial problems getting the wireless card to work at first, but eventually it seemed to be mainly due to invalid WPA key credentials or non-existing SSIDs.

The most helpful debugging tool here was wpa_supplicant -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-wlan0.conf -iwlan0 -d which put wpa_supplicant in foreground with debug mode, outputting to stdout.

I ended up managing the device through systemd, which was a first. Usually been doing it with ifupdown/interfaces or NetworkManager, but I liked this approach for a somewhat static configuration.

Let systemd manage wlan card

Create a new file /etc/systemd/network/


Description=On-board wireless NIC

In the same directory, there probably already is a file which you can look at for quick reference, but all the information you need is in man To refresh these settings, restart the service (probably is a signal for this, but this works too):

# systemctl restart systemd-networkd

The device should now show up as managed and maybe even configuring, even though nothing is configuring it at the moment.

IDX LINK             TYPE               OPERATIONAL SETUP     
  1 lo               loopback           carrier     unmanaged 
  2 eth0             ether              routable    configured
  3 wlan0            wlan               no-carrier  configuring...

Set up wpa_supplicant to handle wireless connections

Looking at the source of the pre-installed service file for interface specific configuration at /lib/systemd/system/wpa_supplicant@.service, it expects wpa_supplicant configuration files to reside at /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-%I.conf, where %I is the interface name, i.e. wlan0. This service file will be invoked when we later run it with systemctl start wpa_supplicant@wlan0. If you try this now, it will probably fail with error stating that the -wlan0.conf file doesn't exist.

Using example configuration in man wpa_supplicant.conf and updating the settings to match my local wireless access point (AP) settings. Now save this file where the wpa_supplicant service expects it to be; /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant-wlan0.conf:

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

Now start the service

# systemctl start wpa_supplicant@wlan0.service

Check the journal for messages

# journalctl -f

See if the device is getting an IP address

# ip addr show wlan0

If this doesn't work, check the debug logs of wpa_supplicant as described at the top. Drop comments if you are having troubles :)