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How to Turn Your Ubuntu Laptop into a Wireless Access Point

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If you have a single wired Internet connection – say, in a hotel room – you can create an ad-hoc wireless network with Ubuntu and share the Internet connection among multiple devices. Ubuntu includes an easy, graphical setup tool.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations. Some devices may not support ad-hoc wireless networks and Ubuntu can only create wireless hotspots with weak WEP encryption, not strong WPA encryption.

Setup

To get started, click the gear icon on the panel and select System Settings.

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Select the Network control panel in Ubuntu’s System Settings window. You can also set up a wireless hotspot by clicking the network menu and selecting Edit Network Connections, but that setup process is more complicated.

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If you want to share an Internet connection wirelessly, you’ll have to connect to it with a wired connection. You can’t share a Wi-Fi network – when you create a Wi-Fi hotspot, you’ll be disconnected from your current wireless network.

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To create a hotspot, select the Wireless network option and click the Use as Hotspot button at the bottom of the window.

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You’ll be disconnected from your existing network. You can disable the hotspot later by clicking the Stop Hotspot button in this window or by selecting another wireless network from the network menu on Ubuntu’s panel.

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After you click Create Hotspot, you’ll see an notification pop up that indicates your laptop’s wireless radio is now being used as an ad-hoc access point. You should be able to connect from other devices using the default network name – “ubuntu” – and the security key displayed in the Network window. However, you can also click the Options button to customize your wireless hotspot.

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From the wireless tab, you can set a custom name for your wireless network using the SSID field. You can also modify other wireless settings from here. The Connect Automatically check box should allow you to use the hotspot as your default wireless network – when you start your computer, Ubuntu will create the hotspot instead of connecting to an existing wireless network.

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From the Wireless Security tab, you can change your security key and method. Unfortunately, WPA encryption does not appear to be an option here, so you’ll have to stick with the weaker WEP encryption.

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The “Shared to other computers” option on the IPv4 Settings tab tells Ubuntu to share your Internet connection with other computers connected to the hotspot.

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Even if you don’t have a wireless Internet connection available to share, you can network computers together and communicate between them – for example, to share files.


We’ve previously written about turning computers running Windows 7 and Windows 8 into wireless hotspots.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 06/12/12

Comments (18)

  1. Christoffer

    This works exactly the same in Fedora 16.

  2. Citrus Rain

    Oh wow. Never realized that.

    I should set this up for my Grandma on the desktop before she lets the netbook battery die of non-use again. (Assuming she didn’t get the wireless router set up by anyone.)

  3. cam2644

    Keep coming with all this great Ubuntu info.

  4. TheProudNoob

    This seems more stable than connectify… I’ll try this whenever I turn my laptop in again.

  5. TheProudNoob

    *on

  6. dragonbite

    I actually had to do the opposite for a church auction and it was 1,000% easier in Ubuntu (or any Linux) than it would have been to do it with Windows.

    I was running a server where my laptop was hooked up to the “public” wi-fi, while the wired NIC was connected to a router. Everybody working connected to my wireless router, accessed my computer as a web server and had Internet connection for processing Credit Cards.

    The “public” wi-fi could not reach all parts of the room we were using, so I positioned my laptop to get a good wi-fi signal and my router was central to auction activity giving everybody a strong signal even in the corners of the room.

    Having everybody connect to my router also meant that it would be slightly more difficult to hack in than the “public” wi-fi where they may or may not already have the passkey.

  7. Hariks

    Very good article. Than you Geek…

    Can you tell me if I can stream Video/Audio File from my PC to Wi-Fi ready mobile/TV? I mean the files residing at my HDD, not from Internet.

    TIA.

  8. Vu1kan

    @Hariks
    try posting your question to the forums.

  9. Olly

    How can I share it with an android phone?
    Since Adhoc mode is not supported by my smartphone :(

  10. Aim Hioe

    My Windows phone offers hotspot with WPA2 encryption. Why doesn’t Ubuntu?

  11. BlackHawk

    Ohh thats great ! :)
    and as far as i remember there are 2 apps for Win7 too .. i think their name is seventhgate and another 1 would be like my wifi public or my public wifi ..
    even they help in sharing your internet to other devices .. kindof behaving like a virtual wireless router.. virtual access point…
    but i think those work only on Win7 ..

    and well i think WPA2 would be better .. if incorporated .. but Ubuntu has it inbuilt.. thats awesome ! :) .. thats why i love Linux -> so powerful !! :) ..

  12. mojoniedi

    can I use it on my huwawi usb dongle … I’ll appercite the help an it would be great

  13. Lonney

    Quite easy with Windows 7…

    Open command prompt as administrator

    netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow “ssid=” “key=” keyUsage=persistent

    This will create a virtual wifi adapter called Wireless Connection 2 (you can of course rename it)

    netsh wlan start hostednetwork

    Then into the sharing properties of your network adapter with the internet connection and share it to the virtual wifi adapter that was just created. (you can also (re)share a wireless connection as well, handy in a situation with a weak signal that a laptop might just pick up, where a phone/ipod wont get a reliable connection)

    Done.

    To see some info about the config or what clients are connected:

    netsh wlan show hostednetwork

    Read more about it here http://www.ishanarora.com/2009/07/29/windows-7-as-a-wireless-access-point/

    Works perfectly on my Lenovo T520 running Windows 7 Home Premium x64.

  14. Amit Shreyas

    Wow, it is very-very easy …i connected my apple- ipod . ( i am using mobile-broadband instead of wired -network)… now i have my personal Wi-Fi… ..Really, UBUNTU 12.04 is great distro.

  15. Khalid

    I couldn’t imagine doing this with the terminal :)

    And one more thing… If we can have virtual IPs for wired ethernet cards like eth0:1 and eth0:2, couldn’t we do the same with the WiFi to allow both connection and hotspot? Just curious…

  16. Chris Hoffman

    @Khalid

    Well, it’s not that simple — Windows can sort of do this, but it required special driver support. I’m not sure if Linux wi-fi drivers allow this. If so, you’ll need terminal commands if it’s even possible.

  17. Tink

    Hello,

    Is there anyone who knows why a desktop computer would be fine and working one day and the next day you turned it on and the screen to the monitor was black. Does anyone know why this happen and what might be done to fix it.

    I really do enjoy this site. I have so much to learn and this site appears to have a lot of what I am looking for to learn.

    Thanks,

    Tink

  18. marex77

    @mojoniedi yes i think you can coz i’me using it currently. just be sure to set the authentication method to CHAP.

    My android device cannot detect the hotspot created by ubuntu. Is there some workaround other than rooting my device as it is still new, and i do not want to root it…….

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