Setting up wireless on a headless Raspberry Pi Zero W

30 Jan 2018

Flash the SD card

You’ll need an 8 GB or larger SD card to support Raspbian. Download a Raspbian Light image. The Standard Raspbian with Desktop will also work, but since the whole point is to be headless the desktop doesn’t really do much good and takes up extra space.

Once you have the image, download and run Etcher. It’s the most convenient way that I’ve found so far to image an SD card. In the “Select image” dialog select the Raspbian zip file that you just downloaded. If you only have one SD/USB drive plugged in it should automatically select the drive to flash. Take a moment to confirm that it is the drive you’re expecting, once you hit ‘Flash!’ anything on that drive is gone.

Adding wifi credentials

After the SD card has been successfully flashed open it in your system’s file explorer. You should see two volumes boot and rootfs. Create a file named wpa_supplicant.conf in the root of the boot volume and add in the network details as shown below.

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev


If you want to setup wifi for multiple networks just assign multiple values to network and use a different value for id_str.

Enabling ssh

In the root of the boot volume create an empty file called ssh. This will enable ssh access. The default credentials for Raspian are username pi and password raspberry.

Warning: There is a directory in the rootfs volume named boot, this is NOT what you want. You want the root of the boot volume.