Enabling Wi-Fi

The primary use for Fedora CoreOS has been driving server hardware in individual datacenters or cloud environments, which have high speed wired networking without the need for Wi-Fi enablement. Since there are many different types of wireless cards, adding Wi-Fi enablement to Fedora CoreOS by default would require many large firmware binaries to be installed for a non-standard use, which isn’t ideal.

On the other hand, Fedora CoreOS is versatile enough to run on smaller devices in IoT applications or in home labs where Wi-Fi may be required. In these cases it is easy enough to add a layer with the needed tools and firmware.

Adding Wi-Fi tools and firmware

Typically enabling Wi-Fi on Fedora CoreOS involves adding the NetworkManager-wifi package along with the firmware package that corresponds to the wireless card in your system. Here is a list of some of the wireless firmware packages in Fedora:

Wi-Fi firmware packages in Fedora
atheros-firmware - Firmware for Qualcomm Atheros WiFi/Bluetooth adapters
b43-fwcutter - Firmware extraction tool for Broadcom wireless driver
b43-openfwwf - Open firmware for some Broadcom 43xx series WLAN chips
brcmfmac-firmware - Firmware for Broadcom/Cypress brcmfmac WiFi/Bluetooth adapters
iwlegacy-firmware - Firmware for Intel(R) Wireless WiFi Link 3945(A)BG and 4965AGN adapters
iwlwifi-dvm-firmware - DVM Firmware for Intel(R) Wireless WiFi adapters
iwlwifi-mvm-firmware - MVM Firmware for Intel(R) Wireless WiFi adapters
libertas-firmware - Firmware for Marvell Libertas SD/USB WiFi Network Adapters
mt7xxx-firmware - Firmware for Mediatek 7600/7900 series WiFi/Bluetooth adapters
nxpwireless-firmware - Firmware for NXP WiFi/Bluetooth/UWB adapters
realtek-firmware - Firmware for Realtek WiFi/Bluetooth adapters
tiwilink-firmware - Firmware for Texas Instruments WiFi/Bluetooth adapters
atmel-firmware - Firmware for Atmel at76c50x wireless network chips
zd1211-firmware - Firmware for wireless devices based on zd1211 chipset

For example, if a system has a Qualcomm wireless card then adding the NetworkManager-wifi and atheros-firmware packages would sufficiently enable the system for connecting to Wi-Fi. You can try to inspect your wireless card to determine what driver you need by running lspci (provided by the pciutils package) inside a Toolbx container.

When installing Fedora CoreOS

For new systems the packages can be added using the Adding OS Extensions workflow. A NetworkManager configuration for the Wi-Fi connection will also need to be added so the system knows which wireless network to connect to. For more information on network configuration in Fedora CoreOS see Network Configuration.

An example Butane config that combines the extension and network configuration is shown below.

Butane config for Wi-Fi enablement
variant: fcos
version: 1.5.0
    # Enable Wi-Fi in NetworkManager for an Intel wireless card
    - name: rpm-ostree-install-wifi.service
      enabled: true
      contents: |
        Description=Enable Wi-Fi
        ExecStart=/usr/bin/rpm-ostree install -y --allow-inactive NetworkManager-wifi iwlwifi-dvm-firmware
        ExecStart=/bin/touch /var/lib/%N.stamp
        ExecStart=/bin/systemctl --no-block reboot
    - path: /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/wifi-guest.nmconnection
      mode: 0600
        inline: |
When installing a system and adding Wi-Fi enablement in this way the system will need to be on a wired network for the initial install since it will need to use the network to retrieve the Wi-Fi enabling packages.

On an existing Fedora CoreOS system

If you have a system up already and want to add Wi-Fi capabilities (i.e. if you want to move it to a location without wired access) you can request the required packages.

Request NetworkManager-wifi and a specific Wi-Fi firmware
$ sudo rpm-ostree install -y --allow-inactive \
    NetworkManager-wifi iwlwifi-dvm-firmware

If you don’t know what firmware to request you can request all the wireless firmware available in Fedora. Please note this approach is sub-optimal as it will add many unneeded packages on your system.

Request NetworkManager-wifi and all available Wi-Fi firmware
$ sudo rpm-ostree install -y --allow-inactive \
    NetworkManager-wifi  \
    atheros-firmware     \
    b43-fwcutter         \
    b43-openfwwf         \
    brcmfmac-firmware    \
    iwlegacy-firmware    \
    iwlwifi-dvm-firmware \
    iwlwifi-mvm-firmware \
    libertas-firmware    \
    mt7xxx-firmware      \
    nxpwireless-firmware \
    realtek-firmware     \
    tiwilink-firmware    \
    atmel-firmware       \

Then reboot the system.