Set up wifi- minimal system

I’m stumped. How do I find the information needed to configure WiFi in a minimal system? Once I have what do I do with it? Also, I don’t get why the bare minimum setup isn’t just copied to the hard drive so a newbie can configure networking at their leisure.

To be specific, how do I find the SSID?

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i found that using wpa_supplicant directly very painful for wifi, however, networkmanager is usable by mere mortals like me.

    networking.networkmanager.enable = true;

then to connect to internet:

nmcli device wifi connect <SSID> password <password>

If you’re trying to boot strap a device which doesn’t have ethernet, then it might be wise for you to build your own image with networkmanager already enabled.


Why? I just want to get my system booting again. It’s become clear that NixOS isn’t a rescue system, it’s far too complex.

Since NixOS tries to stay as unopinionated as possible, it’s always had a crisis about what it should be included. Generally this is left up to the user to decide what should be there, however, that usually exposes them to way more details than most people care about.

So, I’ll agree that there’s some up-front complexity when using NixOS. But in general, you’ll never have to fight NixOS about something you didnt want (except systemd, thats there to stay :slight_smile: )

It’s not the intended use-case, but you could create an iso with rescue utilities on it. However, to your point on complexity, it’s not immediately apparent on how to do this.

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There isn’t much I can do right now; my other machine is in the shop. That said, it would be very useful to know how to find my SSID.

Probably the best I can do for you right now: NixOS - NixOS 21.05 manual

I’m assuming you’re using the minimal iso?

Yes, I am. Why, I’ll never know.

I found a blog post with most of the relevant step you need Using WPA_Supplicant to Connect to WPA2 Wi-fi from Terminal on Ubuntu 16.04 Server

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…I knew it wasn’t that easy. iwconfig shows no wireless extensions.

It’s clear that NixOS is a system given to us for free by volunteers, we should try to nitpick less and send more PRs


You should know it, it’s the WiFi name.

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Ok, so where’s the key?

the key ? the password to the network ?

It says in the NixOS manual to enter the network name, password and key.


I see only this: (NixOS - NixOS 21.05 manual)

To manually configure the wifi on the minimal installer, run wpa_supplicant -B -i interface -c <(wpa_passphrase ‘SSID’ ‘key’) .

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Yes, and what key is it talking about?

The key/password of your WiFi.

Technically it is a key, as it is used for encrypting the signal, though its commonly refered to just as a password.

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So far so good, but I see only one interface listed in iwconfig: lo.

Then they ISO is probably missing the “drivers” for your WiFi and ethernet devices, or was not able to recognize which modules to load.

You need to load them manually using modprobe.

Additional firmware packages might be required to be installed or an ISO to be prepared that contains them.

WiFi is not fun on any linux. If you can by any chance use a wired connection to get everything running and then do the wireless setup in a calm and settled moment once you got a feeling for how nix works, then do that…

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Thanks. It doesn’t have ethernet, so that’s out.