Manual browser: wpa_cli(8)

WPA_CLI(8) System Manager's Manual WPA_CLI(8)


wpa_clitext-based frontend program for interacting with wpa_supplicant


wpa_cli [commands]


The wpa_cli utility is a text-based frontend program for interacting with wpa_supplicant(8). It is used to query current status, change configuration, trigger events, and request interactive user input.

The wpa_cli utility can show the current authentication status, selected security mode, dot11 and dot1x MIBs, etc. In addition, wpa_cli can configure EAPOL state machine parameters and trigger events such as reassociation and IEEE 802.1X logoff/logon.

The wpa_cli utility provides an interface to supply authentication information such as username and password when it is not provided in the wpa_supplicant.conf(5) configuration file. This can be used, for example, to implement one-time passwords or generic token card authentication where the authentication is based on a challenge-response that uses an external device for generating the response.

The wpa_cli utility supports two modes: interactive and command line. Both modes share the same command set and the main difference is that in interactive mode, wpa_cli provides access to unsolicited messages (event messages, username/password requests).

Interactive mode is started when wpa_cli is executed without any parameters on the command line. Commands are then entered from the controlling terminal in response to the wpa_cli prompt. In command line mode, the same commands are entered as command line arguments.

The control interface of wpa_supplicant(8) can be configured to allow non-root user access by using the ctrl_interface_group parameter in the wpa_supplicant.conf(5) configuration file. This makes it possible to run wpa_cli with a normal user account.


When wpa_supplicant(8) needs authentication parameters, such as username and password, that are not present in the configuration file, it sends a request message to all attached frontend programs, e.g., wpa_cli in interactive mode. The wpa_cli utility shows these requests with a “CTRL-REQ-<type>-<id>:<text>” prefix, where <type> is IDENTITY, PASSWORD, or OTP (one-time password), <id> is a unique identifier for the current network, and <text> is description of the request. In the case of a OTP (One Time Password) request, it includes the challenge from the authentication server.

A user must supply wpa_supplicant(8) the needed parameters in response to these requests.

For example,

CTRL-REQ-PASSWORD-1:Password needed for SSID foobar 
> password 1 mysecretpassword 
Example request for generic token card challenge-response: 
CTRL-REQ-OTP-2:Challenge 1235663 needed for SSID foobar 
> otp 2 9876


The following commands may be supplied on the command line or at a prompt when operating interactively.
Report the current WPA/EAPOL/EAP status for the current interface.
Report MIB variables (dot1x, dot11) for the current interface.
Show usage help.
interface [ifname]
Show available interfaces and/or set the current interface when multiple are available.
level debug_level
Change the debugging level in wpa_supplicant(8). Larger numbers generate more messages.
Display the full license for wpa_cli.
Send the IEEE 802.1X EAPOL state machine into the “logoff” state.
Send the IEEE 802.1X EAPOL state machine into the “logon” state.
set [settings]
Set variables. When no arguments are supplied, the known variables and their settings are displayed.
Show the contents of the PMKSA cache.
Force a reassociation to the current access point.
Force wpa_supplicant(8) to re-read its configuration file.
preauthenticate BSSID
Force preauthentication of the specified BSSID.
identity network_id identity
Configure an identity for an SSID.
password network_id password
Configure a password for an SSID.
otp network_id password
Configure a one-time password for an SSID.
Force wpa_supplicant(8) to terminate.
Exit wpa_cli.


The wpa_cli utility first appeared in NetBSD 4.0.


The wpa_cli utility was written by Jouni Malinen <>. This manual page is derived from the README file included in the wpa_supplicant distribution.
October 1, 2005 NetBSD 7.0