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wpa_cli - Man Page

WPA command line client

Examples (TL;DR)


wpa_cli [ -p path to ctrl sockets ]  [ -g path to global ctrl_interface socket ]  [ -i ifname ]  [ -hvB ]  [ -a action file ]  [ -P pid file ]  [ -G ping interval ]  [ command ... ]


wpa_cli is a text-based frontend program for interacting with wpa_supplicant. It is used to query current status, change configuration, trigger events, and request interactive user input.

wpa_cli can show the current authentication status, selected security mode, dot11 and dot1x MIBs, etc. In addition, it can configure some variables like EAPOL state machine parameters and trigger events like reassociation and IEEE 802.1X logoff/logon. wpa_cli provides a user interface to request authentication information, like username and password, if these are not included in the configuration. This can be used to implement, e.g., one-time-passwords or generic token card authentication where the authentication is based on a challenge-response that uses an external device for generating the response.

The control interface of wpa_supplicant can be configured to allow non-root user access (ctrl_interface GROUP= parameter in the configuration file). This makes it possible to run wpa_cli with a normal user account.

wpa_cli supports two modes: interactive and command line. Both modes share the same command set and the main difference is in interactive mode providing access to unsolicited messages (event messages, username/password requests).

Interactive mode is started when wpa_cli is executed without including the command as a command line parameter. Commands are then entered on the wpa_cli prompt. In command line mode, the same commands are entered as command line arguments for wpa_cli.

Interactive Authentication Parameters Request

When wpa_supplicant need authentication parameters, like username and password, which are not present in the configuration file, it sends a request message to all attached frontend programs, e.g., wpa_cli in interactive mode. wpa_cli shows these requests with "CTRL-REQ-<type>-<id>:<text>" prefix. <type> is IDENTITY, PASSWORD, or OTP (one-time-password). <id> is a unique identifier for the current network. <text> is description of the request. In case of OTP request, it includes the challenge from the authentication server.

The reply to these requests can be given with identity, password, and otp commands. <id> needs to be copied from the matching request. password and otp commands can be used regardless of whether the request was for PASSWORD or OTP. The main difference between these two commands is that values given with password are remembered as long as wpa_supplicant is running whereas values given with otp are used only once and then forgotten, i.e., wpa_supplicant will ask frontend for a new value for every use. This can be used to implement one-time-password lists and generic token card -based authentication.

Example request for password and a matching reply:

CTRL-REQ-PASSWORD-1:Password needed for SSID foobar
> password 1 mysecretpassword

Example request for generic token card challenge-response:

CTRL-REQ-OTP-2:Challenge 1235663 needed for SSID foobar
> otp 2 9876

Command Arguments

-p path

Change the path where control sockets should be found.

-g control socket path

Connect to the global control socket at the indicated path rather than an interface-specific control socket.

-i ifname

Specify the interface that is being configured. By default, choose the first interface found with a control socket in the socket path.


Help. Show a usage message.


Show version information.


Run as a daemon in the background.

-a file

Run in daemon mode executing the action file based on events from wpa_supplicant. The specified file will be executed with the first argument set to interface name and second to "CONNECTED" or "DISCONNECTED" depending on the event. This can be used to execute networking tools required to configure the interface.

Additionally, three environmental variables are available to the file: WPA_CTRL_DIR, WPA_ID, and WPA_ID_STR. WPA_CTRL_DIR contains the absolute path to the ctrl_interface socket. WPA_ID contains the unique network_id identifier assigned to the active network, and WPA_ID_STR contains the content of the id_str option.

-P file

Set the location of the PID file.

-G ping interval

Set the interval (in seconds) at which wpa_cli pings the supplicant.


Run a command. The available commands are listed in the next section.


The following commands are available:


get current WPA/EAPOL/EAP status


get MIB variables (dot1x, dot11)


show this usage help

interface [ifname]

show interfaces/select interface

level <debug level>

change debug level


show full wpa_cli license


IEEE 802.1X EAPOL state machine logoff


IEEE 802.1X EAPOL state machine logon


set variables (shows list of variables when run without arguments)


show PMKSA cache


force reassociation


force wpa_supplicant to re-read its configuration file

preauthenticate <BSSID>

force preauthentication

identity <network id> <identity>

configure identity for an SSID

password <network id> <password>

configure password for an SSID

pin <network id> <pin>

configure pin for an SSID

otp <network id> <password>

configure one-time-password for an SSID

bssid <network id> <BSSID>

set preferred BSSID for an SSID


list configured networks


terminate wpa_supplicant


exit wpa_cli

See Also


Referenced By

wpa_cli_selinux(8), wpa_gui(8), wpa_supplicant(8).

07 August 2019