Would you like to use your Pi as a WiFi router? Or maybe have it as a special filtering access point? Setting up a Pi as an access point (AP) is a bit more advanced than using it as a client, but its still only a half hour of typing to configure. If you want to, this tutorial will make it so the Pi broadcasts a WiFi service and then routes internet traffic to an Ethernet cable. Since its all Linux you can go in and update or configure it however you like.
I used the following pages as a guide to create this tutorial, please note many of them will not work completely, but check them out if you are interested!
We would not purchase a Raspberry Pi solely for this purpose, since you can probably buy a dedicated router that will act as an wireless access point for less than the price of a Raspberry Pi, power supply, SD Card, and WiFi adapter. But if you already have a Raspberry Pi that is loafing along doing some task that doesn’t make full use of its capabilities, this might be an extra task you could give it, particularly if it happens to be in a spot where WiFi reception is a bit spotty.
If you run Ubuntu Linux, and you have a wired ethernet connection to your system, and it also has wireless connectivity, then at some time you might have tried to set it up as a WiFi access point. And what you probably discovered is that you can create a WiFi access point using Ubuntu’s “Create New Wireless Network” panel, but unfortunately this creates what is termed an “ad hoc” network, and for reasons we don’t fully understand, Android devices and some other types of wireless devices apparently can’t connect to that kind of network.
Why this should be so difficult in Ubuntu is hard to fathom because Windows users can easily set up an access point using Connectify. This provides an actual access point. It turns out that there’s a similar program for Ubuntu but it’s not well known, because it’s not in the official Ubuntu repository. The program is called Wiconnect Infrastructure Wireless Connection Manager and it is described as follows:
Wiconnect is an infrastructure wireless connection manager built specifically for ubuntu. This is an Ubuntu’s open source alternative for connectify. It aims to provide network that is compatible with android devices.
– Compatible to connect with android devices
– Flexibility to change wifi username and password
– ability to check devices that connects to your wifi
future aim :
– ability to create repeater
– a much better gui
– ability to check devices that connects to wifi via device name and not mac address
The program is hosted on Launchpad and is available as a .deb file. So, go to the download page and download the software to your system. Then, double click on the file once it’s been downloaded, and Ubuntu Software Center will load and display this:
Again, just in case you didn’t quite understand what we wrote above above, you cannot at this time find Wiconnect by searching for it in the Ubuntu Software Center – you have to download the .deb file and then double click on it to cause Ubuntu Software Center to bring up the above page. Once you read the page, if you want to install the software, just click the Install button. Once the software is installed, you need to run it to configure it. We have Classic Menu Indicator installed, and it appears under Other | Wiconnect, but you can also start it by going to the Dash and typing in Wiconnect. The first screen you will see when you invoke the program is this:
Before you go any further, you should check your network connections and make sure that “Enable Wireless” is on (there should be a check mark next to it) but also make sure you are not actually connected to a WiFi network. Unless you have two network adapters, you can’t both be connected to a WiFi network and simultaneously acting as an access point.
Now on the Wiconnect Connection screen, click the About tab to bring up this screen:
Click the button that reads “How to use this software” – it should bring up a text file that will help you if you get stuck at any point. Now click the Connection tab to go back the original screen, and then click the Setup/Resetup Wizard button. It will then bring up several screens asking for information:
The above two windows are asking for the password you use on your system when installing new software or making system changes. Some of what it has to do requires root privileges, so that’s why it needs the password.
On the above screen it wants you to enter the name of wireless network as it will be seen on your WiFi devices, also called the SSID. Use something unique, but not too personally identifying, so that if you are in an area where there are multiple WiFi networks you will be able to easily find your access point. As for the password, this might be called either the “password” or “key” on some devices, but you should use a really strong one here if you don’t want to be hacked. If you don’t have a program that you can use to generate a truly random password, then search online for a random password generator. The longer and more random the password is, the better. Remember that if a hacker can see your access point, he can run a program that can try millions of password combinations over time, so don’t make yourself an easy target.
On the above screen you need to select your internet source, which in most cases will be your wired ethernet connection on eth0.
On the screen above, it is asking whether you want to be prompted to enter your password any time you make a change, such as starting or stopping your wireless access point. By saving the root password, it won’t ask for it each time, but as it notes, that is less secure. If you are not the only user of your system, you probably do not want to save the root password, so that no one else can start or stop your access point without your permission. After you have answered that question, you should see this screen:
This completes the setup but doesn’t start your access point. To do that, go back to the original window and select the Connection tab:
Note that the SSID name should now be showing the name you selected (if not, you might need to restart Wiconnect). Now click the Create Connection button. After several seconds, your access point should be operational. Whenever you want to turn it off, click the “Stop Connection” button. Note that if you answered “No” to the question about saving the root password, then you will be prompted to enter it each time you start or stop the wireless connection.
Note that if your device (that you want to connect to your access point) asks you to specify what type of connection this is, it will be something like “WPA/WPA2 PSK” – the exact terminology may vary but the most important thing is that it is WPA2.
In case you are wondering, the Advanced tab in Wiconnect looks like this:
The first four buttons give you the ability to change individual settings in the configuration without re-running the entire setup. The fifth lets you see a report of what is connecting to your access point at any given time – with one device connected, it looks like this (the MAC address in the image has been replaced by x characters for security):
Just as a final note, we used this with Ubuntu 12.04, the most recent LTS (Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu, and it allowed us to create an access point that an Android tablet could connect to. It’s not the most beautiful program out there, but at least for us, it worked, and that’s what’s important. We particularly appreciated the convenience of being able to start or stop the access point just by clicking a button. But just in case anyone can’t seem to make this work, here’s another article that shows a bit different method to achieve nearly the same result: