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How to Enable WPA on Kubuntu

The purpose of this wiki is to clarify the procedure of getting WPA to work on Kubuntu. The general wiki is hard to read (at least for the time being), and it is hard to know which parts pertain to KDE. This page contains excerpts from the more general parent wiki WifiDocs/WPAHowTo, and some particulars pertaining to KDE and Kubuntu.

Before You Start

  • You need to configure WPA on your wireless router/accsess point. Please note that though it is possible to set up the network in WEP-mode or unencrypted, and then switching to WPA when trying to connect to the router, this has serious security implementations, and also is very cumbersome and unreliable.
  • It is assumed throughout this wiki that you have Kubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) installed.

  • Have a look at WifiDocs/WiFiHowTo to get your card up and running. Remember that some of the tools mentioned there, like network-admin are specific to Gnome, and not particularly well suited for use with KDE.

  • Check to see if your card is supported by wpa_supplicant. If your card is not supported, I guess you are out of luck for now.

Remember also that WirelessAssistant isn't going to get you anywhere if you are planning to use WPA encryption.

Note for the Impatient

Go directly to the Easy steps section.

Other Wikis of Interest

External References

To further understand what is going on, these links might be useful.

Basic Information for Users New to Kubuntu and Linux

Some basic information for inexperienced Linux users is included here. Please be patient, or skip directly to the Easy steps section below.

You Need a Working Internet Connection to Install Packages

To be able to install packages you will need a working Internet connection. Most laptops (mine at least) does not have problem with the wired LAN card, and this will be your best option for installing the required packages. Please also note that KNetworkManager only enables one interface at a time. I do not quite understand why this should be so. Maybe future versions will support multiple interfaces and routing.

  • (i) Now, it is possible to download packages with a different OS and install them off-line. This is a cumbersome process, though, and is not recommended.

    (i) It is Not a Good Option to use the wireless to access the Internet and then switching to WPA when you think you have done things right.

Explanations of the Instructions

When I write

$ chmod u+x somefile

this means that chmod is a command to be entered on a command prompt. Such a prompt is readily supplied by terminal emulators, i.e. Konsole. The action of the command issued can be investigated by issuing

$ man chmod

and reading the manual for the command. To become adept in using the man tool, issue

$ man man

The sudo command typpically prompts for your password. Supply your regular login password, and you should be fine.

Easy Steps to get WPA to Work on Kubuntu

These are the steps needed to get WPA up and running on Kubuntu.

  1. Check to see if your card is supported by wpa_supplicant. If your card is not supported, I guess you are out of luck for now.

  2. Download the packages needed; knetworkmanager, network-manager and wpasupplicant. Personally I prefer aptitude, but please use the package manager of your choice (e.g. Adept). If you use aptitude, enter this command, supplying your own password at the password prompt:
    $ sudo aptitude install knetworkmanager network-manager wpasupplicant 

    (i) Technically knetworkmanager should drag in wpasupplicant and network-manager, but no harm done to specify them explicitly, other than that they will me marked as manually installed. Read the documentation for aptitude to learn about the implications.

    (i) You'll need a working network connection to install packages. Please see Network connection for a brief explanation.

  3. Reboot the computer.

    (i) Might work without rebooting, but better safe than sorry.

  4. Log in to KDE and start KNetworkManager from the Internet menu.

  5. There should now be a tray icon for KNetworkManager in the system tray. Click on it and select the appropriate network, or specify a network with the Connect to Other Wireless Network ...

  6. Specify the passphrase and other details for your network.

That's all there is to it.

It should be possible to select WPA as encryption method in the last step. If not, something has gone wrong. One possibility is that your card is not supported by vpasupplicant. If it is on the list of supported cards try reinstalling the software with

sudo aptitude reinstall knetworkmanager wpasupplicant network-manager

Reboot and try again. If the problem persists, read the other wikis referenced in this wiki and see what you can learn from them.


Knetworkmanager will not manage any interfaces defined in /etc/network/interfaces file. Please comment out lines for any interface listed in the interfaces file except for the lo interface.

Final Remarks

Here are some remarks for tuning the system.

Remembering Passphrases

If KWalletManager is configured, KNetworkManager should use this to remember passphrases. Check this link for further information.

Suspend Suport

Have a look at the NetworkManager wiki for more information.

Workaround for Automatic Startup

I could not get the manager to work after system reboot. This seems to be because I tried to start knetworkmanager as root (with kdesu or such) the first time round. Don't know, though it seems to be the case after a bit of testing. Other user accounts on my system works just fine. My manager does not show any NICs when started by the session manager. Anyhow, there is no need to run knetworkmanager as root, as it is only a frontend to a daemon doing the actual network setup.

Since I got myself into this mess, I'll include a bit of info on how I got around it too.

On the Dell Inspirion 510m laptop I am doing the testing this hack is suffiscient to get the manager to work across reboots.

  1. Start System Settings from the K menu.

  2. Click Advanced in the upper left corner of the window.

  3. Click Session manager.

  4. Add knetworkmanager to the comma-separated list of applications to exclude from the session management (in the bottom of the window), and click Apply.

  5. Create a file in the ~/.kde/Autostart folder named knetworkmanager.

  6. Enter this into the file:
    # Adding a short wait cycle prior to starting KNetworkManager
    # Legger til en lilten pause før jeg starter KNetworkManager
    sleep 10
    # Start manager
    # Starte manager

    (i) The two preceding steps can be combined into one by starting Konsole Terminal Emulator from the K -> System menu, issuing the command nano ~/.kde/Autostart/knetworkmanager, cutting and pasting the above text into the editor window and pressing the key sequence [Ctrl] + x, and then pressing the [ENTER] key.

  7. Make the file executable:
    $ chmod u+x ~/.kde/Autostart/knetworkmanager

This should do the trick.

(i) After a bit of fiddling I found that KNetworkManager worked properly even with the sleep 10 removed. This might be different for your system, so I'll leave it in there.

(i) Also note that any tools dependent on the network to be up, like adept_notify and klamav (KDE frontend to clamav) will not work properly until after the wireless network has settled. I could not get this to work. Possibly KNetworkManager needs to be integrated in the network services of KDE for this to work properly ...

Additional workaround for Automatic Startup

  1. Start Konqueror from the K menu.

  2. Make sure hidden files can be viewed (click the View menu in the upper left and select Show Hidden Files).

  3. Left-click (or double left-click) the .kde folder to open it.

  4. Left-click (or double left-click) the share folder to open it.

  5. Left-click (or double left-click) the config folder to open it.

  6. Open the knetworkmanagerrc file in Kate or your favorite text editor.

  7. Look for a section similar to this:
  8. If the value for Autostart is no, change it to yes.

  9. Save the file and close the editor.


WifiDocs/WPAHowTo/Kubuntu (last edited 2009-08-17 16:09:53 by enhickman)