Manual browser: ral(4)

RAL(4) Kernel Interfaces Manual RAL(4)


ralRalink Technology IEEE 802.11a/b/g wireless network driver


ral* at cardbus?
ral* at pci?
ral* at uhub? port ?


The ral driver supports PCI/CardBus wireless adapters based on the Ralink RT2500, RT2501, and RT2600 chipsets. The ral driver supports USB 2.0 wireless adapters based on the Ralink RT2500USB chipset.

The RT2500 chipset is the first generation of 802.11b/g adapters from Ralink. It consists of two integrated chips, an RT2560 or RT2570(USB) MAC/BBP and an RT2525 or RT2526(USB) radio transceiver.

The RT2501 chipset is the second generation of 802.11b/g adapters from Ralink. It consists of two integrated chips, an RT2561 MAC/BBP and an RT2527 radio transceiver. This chipset provides support for the IEEE 802.11e standard with multiple hardware transmission queues and allows scatter/gather for efficient DMA operations.

The RT2600 chipset consists of two integrated chips, an RT2661 MAC/BBP and an RT2529 radio transceiver. This chipset uses the MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) technology with multiple antennas to extend the operating range of the adapter and to achieve higher throughput. MIMO will be the basis of the future IEEE 802.11n standard.

These are the modes the ral driver can operate in:

BSS mode
Also known as infrastructure mode, this is used when associating with an access point, through which all traffic passes. This mode is the default.
IBSS mode
Also known as IEEE ad-hoc mode or peer-to-peer mode. This is the standardized method of operating without an access point. Stations associate with a service set. However, actual connections between stations are peer-to-peer.
Host AP
In this mode the driver acts as an access point (base station) for other cards.
monitor mode
In this mode the driver is able to receive packets without associating with an access point. This disables the internal receive filter and enables the card to capture packets from networks which it wouldn't normally have access to, or to scan for access points.

ral supports software WEP. Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is the de facto encryption standard for wireless networks. It can be typically configured in one of three modes: no encryption; 40-bit encryption; or 104-bit encryption. Unfortunately, due to serious weaknesses in WEP protocol it is strongly recommended that it not be used as the sole mechanism to secure wireless communication. WEP is not enabled by default.

The transmit speed is user-selectable or can be adapted automatically by the driver depending on the received signal strength and on the number of hardware transmission retries. See rssadapt(9) for more information.


The ral driver can be configured at runtime with ifconfig(8) or on boot with ifconfig.if(5) using the following parameters:
bssid bssid
Set the desired BSSID.
Unset the desired BSSID. The interface will automatically select a BSSID in this mode, which is the default.
chan n
Set the channel (radio frequency) to be used by the driver based on the given channel ID n.
Unset the desired channel to be used by the driver. The driver will automatically select a channel in this mode, which is the default.
media media
The ral driver supports the following media types:

Enable autoselection of the media type and options.
Set 802.11b DS 1Mbps operation.
Set 802.11b DS 2Mbps operation.
Set 802.11b DS 5.5Mbps operation.
Set 802.11b DS 11Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 6Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 9Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 12Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 18Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 24Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 36Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 48Mbps operation.
Set 802.11a/g OFDM 54Mbps operation.
mediaopt opts
The ral driver supports the following media options:

Select Host AP operation.
Select IBSS operation.
Select monitor mode.
-mediaopt opts
Disable the specified media options on the driver and return it to the default mode of operation (BSS).
mode mode
The ral driver supports the following modes:

Force 802.11a operation.
Force 802.11b operation.
Force 802.11g operation.
nwid id
Set the network ID. The id can either be any text string up to 32 characters in length, or a series of hexadecimal digits up to 64 digits. An empty id string allows the interface to connect to any available access points. By default the ral driver uses an empty string. Note that network ID is synonymous with Extended Service Set ID (ESSID).
nwkey key
Enable WEP encryption using the specified key. The key can either be a string, a series of hexadecimal digits (preceded by ‘0x’), or a set of keys of the form “n:k1,k2,k3,k4”, where ‘n’ specifies which of the keys will be used for transmitted packets, and the four keys, “k1” through “k4”, are configured as WEP keys. If a set of keys is specified, a comma (‘,’) within the key must be escaped with a backslash. Note that if multiple keys are used, their order must be the same within the network. ral is capable of using both 40-bit (5 characters or 10 hexadecimal digits) or 104-bit (13 characters or 26 hexadecimal digits) keys.
Disable WEP encryption. This is the default mode of operation.


The following firmware files are potentially loaded when an interface is brought up:


RT2500 adapters do not require a firmware to operate.


The following PCI adapters should work:

A-Link WL54H. Amigo AWI-926W. AMIT WL531P. AOpen AOI-831. ASUS WL-130g. ASUS WIFI-G-AAY. Atlantis Land A02-PCI-W54. Belkin F5D7000 v3. Canyon CN-WF511. CNet CWP-854. Compex WLP54G. Conceptronic C54Ri. Corega CG-WLPCI54GL. Digitus DN-7006G-RA. Dynalink WLG25PCI. E-Tech WGPI02. Edimax EW-7128g. Eminent EM3037. Encore ENLWI-G-RLAM. Eusso UGL2454-VPR. Fiberline WL-400P. Foxconn WLL-3350. Gigabyte GN-WPKG. Hama WLAN PCI Card 54 Mbps. Hawking HWP54GR. Hercules HWGPCI-54. iNexQ CR054g-009 (R03). JAHT WN-4054PCI. KCORP LifeStyle KLS-660. LevelOne WNC-0301 v2. Linksys WMP54G v4. Micronet SP906GK. Minitar MN54GPC-R. MSI MS-6834. MSI PC54G2. OvisLink EVO-W54PCI. PheeNet HWL-PCIG/RA. Pro-Nets PC80211G. Repotec RP-WP0854. SATech SN-54P. Signamax 065-1798. Sitecom WL-115. SparkLAN WL-660R. Surecom EP-9321-g. Sweex LC700030. TekComm NE-9321-g. Tonze PC-6200C. Unex CR054g-R02. Zinwell ZWX-G361. Zonet ZEW1600.

The following CardBus adapters should work:

A-Link WL54PC. Alfa AWPC036. Amigo AWI-914W. AMIT WL531C. ASUS WL-107G. Atlantis Land A02-PCM-W54. Belkin F5D7010 v2. Canyon CN-WF513. CC&C WL-2102. CNet CWC-854. Conceptronic C54RC. Corega CG-WLCB54GL. Digitus DN-7001G-RA. Dynalink WLG25CARDBUS. E-Tech WGPC02. E-Tech WGPC03. Edimax EW-7108PCg. Eminent EM3036. Encore ENPWI-G-RLAM. Eusso UGL2454-01R. Fiberline WL-400X. Gigabyte GN-WMKG. Hawking HWC54GR. Hercules HWGPCMCIA-54. JAHT WN-4054P(E). KCORP LifeStyle KLS-611. LevelOne WPC-0301 v2. Micronet SP908GK V3. Minitar MN54GCB-R. MSI CB54G2. MSI MS-6835. Pro-Nets CB80211G. Repotec RP-WB7108. SATech SN-54C. Sitecom WL-112. SparkLAN WL-611R. Surecom EP-9428-g. Sweex LC500050. TekComm NE-9428-g. Tonze PW-6200C. Unex MR054g-R02. Zinwell ZWX-G160. Zonet ZEW1500.

The following Mini PCI adapters should work:

Amigo AWI-922W. Billionton MIWLGRL. Gigabyte GN-WIKG. MSI MP54G2. MSI MS-6833. Tonze PC-620C. Zinwell ZWX-G360.

The following USB 2.0 adapters should work:

AMIT WL532U. ASUS WL-167g. Belkin F5D7050 v2000. Buffalo WLI-U2-KG54. Buffalo WLI-U2-KG54-AI. Buffalo WLI-U2-KG54-YB. CNet CWD-854. Compex WLU54G 2A1100. Conceptronic C54RU. D-Link DWL-G122 (b1). Dynalink WLG25USB. E-Tech WGUS02. Gigabyte GN-WBKG. Hercules HWGUSB2-54. KCORP LifeStyle KLS-685. Linksys HU200-TS. Linksys WUSB54G v4. Linksys WUSB54GP v4. MSI MS-6861. MSI MS-6865. MSI MS-6869. Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector. OvisLink Evo-W54USB. SerComm UB801R. SparkLAN WL-685R. Surecom EP-9001-g. Sweex LC100060. Tonze UW-6200C. Zinwell ZWX-G261. Zonet ZEW2500P.


The following ifconfig.if(5) example creates a host-based access point on boot:

inet netmask media autoselect \ 
	mediaopt hostap nwid my_net chan 11

Configure ral0 for WEP, using hex key “0x1deadbeef1”:

# ifconfig ral0 nwkey 0x1deadbeef1

Return ral0 to its default settings:

# ifconfig ral0 -bssid -chan media autoselect \ 
	nwid "" -nwkey

Join an existing BSS network, “my_net”:

# ifconfig ral0 netmask 0xffffff00 nwid my_net


ral%d: could not read microcode %s
For some reason, the driver was unable to read the microcode file from the filesystem. The file might be missing or corrupted.
ral%d: could not load 8051 microcode
An error occurred while attempting to upload the microcode to the onboard 8051 microcontroller unit.
ral%d: timeout waiting for MCU to initialize
The onboard 8051 microcontroller unit failed to initialize in time.
ral%d: device timeout
A frame dispatched to the hardware for transmission did not complete in time. The driver will reset the hardware. This should not happen.


The ral driver first appeared in OpenBSD 3.7 and in NetBSD 3.0. Support for the RT2501 and RT2600 chipsets was added in OpenBSD 3.9 and in NetBSD 4.0.


The ral driver was written by Damien Bergamini <>.


Some PCI ral adapters seem to strictly require a system supporting PCI 2.2 or greater and will likely not work in systems based on older revisions of the PCI specification. Check the board's PCI version before purchasing the card.

The USB ral driver supports automatic control of the transmit speed in BSS mode only. Therefore the use of a USB ral adapter in Host AP mode is discouraged.

December 13, 2009 NetBSD 7.0