1 min read

How do I get wifi set up on a Raspberry Pi Zero?

The Pi Zero has a single USB port and no wired network, so setting up a USB wifi dongle is actually harder than you might expect. You can’t have the wifi dongle and the keyboard plugged in at the same time (unless you have a powered USB hub etc etc).

So what to do?

Option 1 - Linux only*

Basically, mount the SD card with Raspberian on it, and set up the wifi ahead of time, by editing the files directly on the linux partition of the SD card.

* you probably can do this on another OS, but its a pain.

Full tutorial is here : http://davidmaitland.me/2015/12/raspberry-pi-zero-headless-setup/

Option 2 - Multi step install (i did this)

Set up the wifi by booting the PiZero with the keyboard attached, then reboot attaching the Wifi dongle - simple. ish.

In detail :

  • Install Rasberian to the SD card as normal.
  • Boot the pi with keyboard and HDMI attached (no wifi dongle yet)
  • Use your editor of choice to edit /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf adding

    network = {
      ssid="my network name"
      psk="my network password"
  • shutdown -n halt

  • Unplug keyboard, attach wifi
  • Power the Pi back on, it should pick up the Wifi dongle and use the config you set above, to attach itself to the network!
  • Finding the IP (or setting a static one) is an excersise left up to the reader (and their google skills).