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Installing WPA_Supplicant

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If you are using WEP to secure your wireless network, STOP! WEP is weak encryption, and can be broken in a matter of minutes, due to weaknesses in its implementation in wi-fi. Strong encryption is available for wireless networks, and should be used to prevent unauthorized access and abuse of your wireless network.

Currently, the best available encryption protocol for wireless networking is "Wi-Fi Protected Access" (WPA). Many of the popular Linux distributions come with functioning WPA support. Other smaller distros may not have it installed in a bare bones system, requiring the end user to install a pre-compiled WPA package or module.

In some cases it is be necessary for the end user to manually download and install WPA support. For example, the author recently upgraded a SLAX Linux installation with the rt2860 wireless driver. Not only was it necessary to manually compile and install the rt2860 driver from source with (WPA enabled), the required WPA_SUPPLICANT software had to be installed in the same manner.

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Follow the procedure given below to manually compile and install WPA support on your Linux system:

  1. Go to the WPA Supplicant developers\' website and download the latest source code package (currently version 0.7.3). From the command line, use the code:
root@slax~# wget http://hostap.epitest.fi/releases/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3.tar.gz

  1. Extract the source code from the gzip archive:
root@slax~# tar -xzf wpa_supplicant-0.7.3.tar.gz

  1. Change to the newly created "/root/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3/wpa_supplicant/" directory and issue the command to create a .config file:
root@slax~# cd /root/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3/wpa_supplicant/
root@slax:~/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3/wpa_supplicant# cp defconfig .config

  1. Issue the command to copy a basic wpa_supplicant.conf to the /etc/directory:
root@slax:~/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3/wpa_supplicant# cp wpa_supplicant.conf /etc/wpa_supplicant.conf

  1. Issue the command to make and install wpa_supplicant:
root@slax:~/wpa_supplicant-0.7.3/wpa_supplicant# make && make install


In a flash, wpa_supplicant will be compiled and installed. The following new files should exist on your system:

/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf
/usr/local/sbin/wpa_cli
/usr/local/sbin/wpa_passphrase
/usr/local/sbin/wpa_supplicant

Wireless managers such as Ceni and WICD should now be able to configure your wireless interface for strongly encrypted connections using WPA and WPA2. Remember, if you are setting up the access point for WPA encryption, select a long and random string of letters and numbers for the passphrase in order to resist "dictionary attacks" on the network. Woe unto your network if the common passphrase "123456" is used!!

If you are using a live CD / DVD Linux distribution, now is the time to save the changes to your system. SLAX and Bluewhite64 users should create a new config module from the /mnt/live/memory/changes/ directory. Users of other distros should use their own preferred method of saving system changes in order to have WPA/WPA2 support upon the next system start up.



Tags: wpa supplicant, linux WPA wireless encryption, install wireless_supplicant

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