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Wireless Access Point With a Raspberry Pi 3


Wary of the latest vulnerabilities in WPA? Got an ageing Wifi router that you'd like to bring a bit more up-to-date? Don't trust your ISP-supplied router to meet your Wifi requirements? Or you just want to run on your AP the same software as you run on your desktop?

This HOWTO shows you how to replace the Wifi on your cable modem, ADSL or other router with a Raspberry Pi running Slackware. Other HOWTOs explain how to setup DHCP and so on for your wireless devices, but I've assumed you'll keep your network topology exactly the same as it was before, but simply disable the Wifi element of your router to give more control.

Hardware Requirements

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 running Slackware 14.2
  • A powered USB hub with 2A Power supply (to ensure the Wifi Dongle gets enough juice)
  • Alfa Network AWUS036NHA - USB WiFi Adapter with chipset ar9271l
  • Ethernet cable connected to the internet

The powered Hub was purchased from the_pi_hut (http://www.ebaystores.co.uk/thepihut), although pretty much any decent powered hub should be OK. The pi_hut one claimed to have the feature that it didn't push power up the USB connection to the Pi, which sounded like it may be useful.



The Wifi Adapter choice is important. I did some research and went for the model that I believed would give maximum flexibility and compatibility with Linux. The Alpha Network one seemed to do that. It works with Kali (assuring Linux compatibility), but that is by no means the only thing you should look for. You also want to see the output of:

# iw list

Which for this model gives:

Supported interface modes:
		 * IBSS
		 * managed
		 * AP
		 * AP/VLAN
		 * monitor
		 * mesh point
		 * P2P-client
		 * P2P-GO
		 * outside context of a BSS

Obviously the 'AP' bit is the bit we need, however considering that the built-in RPi3 Wifi adapter also had that, and never really worked satisfactorily it's just one of many things to look for.

My adapter was purchased from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004Y6MIXS, however I am not connected with this seller. The adapter looks like this:


Adapter detection

Ensure that iwconfig shows two adapters wlan0 and wlan1. wlan0 is the built-in one on the Pi. If dmesg isn't showing the Alpha one has been plugged in, then just un-plug it and plug it in again. Bring the Adapter up with:

# ifconfig wlan1 up

This should result in the blue LED coming on.

# ifconfig wlan1 down

This should result in the blue LED going off again. If this happens, it seems your adapter is being recognised.

While you're here, have a quick scan to see which channels might be in use:

# iwlist wlan1 scanning | grep Channel

This will indicate the channels that you don't want to use. You can automatically select channels but this guide will not cover that.

Bridge Configuration

We will configure the AP to get it's own IP address on the ethernet side. Edit /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1.conf. Comment out the section with your eth0 network config, it probably looks a bit like this (it may use a static IP address instead):

# Config information for eth0:

(comment out the four lines).

Now replace that lot by commenting in the section starting:

# Example of how to configure a bridge:

Ensure the following appears so a bridge will be created:


This sets up a bridge, with eth0 attached to it, and tells Slackware to give the new br0 interface an IP address via DHCP. Reboot after you've done that and check that your ethernet networking is still in working order.

Hostapd Install

The only AP software for Linux that I'm aware of is hostapd. Get it from Slackbuilds and build it directly on your Pi (you did install the 'D' disk set didn't you?)

# wget https://slackbuilds.org/slackbuilds/14.2/network/hostapd.tar.gz
# tar xvf hostapd.tar.gz
# cd hostapd
# wget https://w1.fi/releases/hostapd-2.6.tar.gz
# ./hostapd.SlackBuild
# installpkg /tmp/hostapd-2.6-arm-2_SBo.tgz

Next you need to edit /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf to set stuff up. You can backup what's there to another file, just make it look something like the following:


What this does: The interface wlan1, we've seen before. The bridge br0 will get wlan1 interface added to it when hostapd has fired up. The syslog logging lines ensure you get something in /var/log/messages to tell you what's going on. The ssid, wpa and wpa_passphrase settings should be rather obvious, the hw_mode you can just leave as 'g' unless you know what you're doing, channel is set to something you didn't see when you ran 'iwlist wlan1 scanning' earlier on.

That minimal config should get hostapd working fine, at least it did for me.

Finally, you just need to start hostapd, either by adding /etc/rc.d/rc.hostapd to /etc/rc.d/rc.local or adding an extra entry to /etc/rc.d/rc.inet2 (my preference)

if [ -x /etc/rc.d/rc.hostapd ]; then
  /etc/rc.d/rc.hostapd start

Don't forget to:

# chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/rc.hostapd


That's it! You should now be able connect to this AP, and (assuming you are running a DHCP server on your ethernet) it will serve your wireless devices, and everything will be able to talk to everything else. You desktop will be able to ping your mobile and so on.


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