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WICONTROL(8)            FreeBSD System Manager's Manual           WICONTROL(8)

     wicontrol - configure Lucent, Intersil, and Atheros wireless devices

     wicontrol [[-i] iface]
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -o
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -l (dump associated stations)
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -L (list available access points)
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -t tx_rate
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -n network_name
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -s station_name
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -c 0 | 1
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -q SSID
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -p port_type
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -a access_point_density
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -m mac_address
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -d max_data_length
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -e 0 | 1
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -k key [-v 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -r RTS_threshold
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -f frequency
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -F 0 | 1
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -P 0 | 1
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -S max_sleep_duration
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -T 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -Z (zero signal cache)
     wicontrol [[-i] iface] -C (display signal cache)

     The wicontrol utility controls the operation of Lucent, Intersil, and
     Atheros-based wireless networking devices via wi(4) or ath(4) driver.

     You should not use this program to configure IEEE 802.11 parameters.  Use
     ifconfig(8) instead to do those tasks (i.e., set SSID, WEP key, etc.).

     The wicontrol utility can also be used to view the current settings of
     these parameters, dump out the values of the card's statistics counters,
     list associated stations (in HostAP mode), and scan for available access

     The iface argument given to wicontrol should be the logical interface
     name associated with the Lucent, Intersil, and Atheros device (wi0, wi1,
     ath0, etc.).  If none is specified then ``wi0'' is used as default.

     In the first synopsis form, wicontrol displays the current settings of
     the specified wireless interface.  It retrieves the current card settings
     from the driver and prints them out.

     The options are as follows:

     -o      Print out the statistics counters instead of the card settings.
             Encryption keys are only displayed if wicontrol is run as root.

     -a access_point_density
             Specify the access point density for a given interface.  Legal
             values are 1 (low), 2 (medium) and 3 (high).  This setting
             influences some of the radio modem threshold settings.

     -m mac_address
             Set the station address for the specified interface.  The
             mac_address is specified as a series of six hexadecimal values
             separated by colons, e.g., ``00:60:1d:12:34:56''.  This programs
             the new address into the card and updates the interface as well.

     -d max_data_length
             Set the maximum receive and transmit frame size for a specified
             interface.  The max_data_length can be any number from 350 to
             2304.  The default is 2304.

     -r RTS_threshold
             Set the RTS/CTS threshold for a given interface.  This controls
             the number of bytes used for the RTS/CTS handshake boundary.  The
             RTS_threshold can be any value between 0 and 2347.  The default
             is 2347.

     -Z      Clear the signal strength cache maintained internally by the
             wi(4) driver.

     -C      Display the cached signal strength information maintained by the
             wi(4) driver.  The driver retains information about signal
             strength and noise level for packets received from different
             hosts.  The signal strength and noise level values are displayed
             in units of dBms.  The signal quality value is produced by
             subtracting the noise level from the signal strength (i.e., less
             noise and better signal yields better signal quality).

     The wicontrol utility has a number of options that are now deprecated or
     obsolete, as they have been overtaken by extensions to ifconfig(8) and
     changes to the driver.  The deprecated and obsolete options are as

     -t tx_rate
             This flag is deprecated.  Use ifconfig(8) mediaopt instead.

             Set the transmit rate of the specified interface.  The legal
             values for the transmit rate vary depending on whether the
             interface is a standard WaveLAN/IEEE or a WaveLAN/IEEE Turbo
             adapter.  The standard NICs support a maximum transmit rate of
             2Mbps while the turbo NICs support a maximum speed of 6Mbps.  The
             following table shows the legal transmit rate settings and the
             corresponding transmit speeds:

                   TX rate        NIC speed
                   1              Fixed Low (1Mbps)
                   2              Fixed Standard (2Mbps)
                   3              Auto Rate Select (High)
                   4              Fixed Medium (4Mbps)
                   5              Fixed High (6Mbps)
                   6              Auto Rate Select (Standard)
                   7              Auto Rate Select (Medium)

             The default driver setting is 3 (auto rate select).  The numbers
             vary from card to card.

     -n network_name
             This flag is deprecated.  Use ifconfig(8) ssid or nwid instead.

             Set the name of the service set (IBSS) that this station wishes
             to join.  The network_name can be any text string up to 30
             characters in length.  The default name is the string ``ANY''
             which should allow the station to connect to the first available
             access point.  The interface should be set for BSS mode using the
             -p flag in order for this to work.

             Note: the WaveLAN manual indicates that an empty string will
             allow the host to connect to any access point, however I have
             also seen a reference in another driver which indicates that the
             ``ANY'' string works as well.

     -s station_name
             This flag is deprecated.  Use ifconfig(8) stationname or station

             Sets the station name for the specified interface.  The
             station_name is used for diagnostic purposes.  The Lucent
             WaveMANAGER software can poll the names of remote hosts.

     -c 0 | 1
             This flag is deprecated.  IBSS networks are automatically created
             on those cards whose firmware supports it while in IBSS mode.

             Allow the station to create a service set (IBSS).  Permitted
             values are 0 (do not create IBSS) and 1 (enable creation of
             IBSS).  The default is 0.

             Only newer versions of the Lucent firmware support this.

     -q SSID
             This flag is deprecated.  The ssid setting from ifconfig(8) is
             the current preferred way of setting this parameter.

             Specify the name of an IBSS (SSID) to create on a given
             interface.  The SSID can be any text string up to 30 characters

             Note: this option is provided for experimental purposes only:
             enabling the creation of an IBSS on a host system does not appear
             to actually work.

     -p port_type
             This flag is deprecated.  It should never be used.  Do not use
             this flag.  Its meaning depends on the type of card you are
             using, as well as the firmware you have installed in the card in
             some cases.  Beware.  Danger.  Do not use.  Instead, use the
             ifconfig(8) media and mediaopt commands.

             Set the port type for a specified interface.  The legal values
             for port_type are 1 (BSS mode) and 3 (ad-hoc) mode.  In ad-hoc
             mode, the station can communicate directly with any other
             stations within direct radio range (provided that they are also
             operating in ad-hoc mode).  In BSS mode, hosts must associate
             with a service set controlled by an access point, which relays
             traffic between end stations.  The default setting is 1 (BSS
             mode).  Lucent cards have one set of meanings.  Prism cards have
             another.  Symbol cards have a third.  Do not use this flag.

     -e 0 | 1
             This flag is deprecated.  It has been replaced by the ifconfig(8)
             wepmode option.

             Enable or disable WEP encryption.  Permitted values are 0
             (encryption disabled) or 1 (encryption enabled).  Encryption is
             off by default.

             Both 128-bit and 64-bit WEP have been broken.  See the BUGS
             section for details.

     -k key [-v 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]
             This flag is obsolete.  The ifconfig(8) wepkey should be used

             Set WEP encryption keys.  There are four default encryption keys
             that can be programmed.  A specific key can be set using the -v
             flag.  If the -v flag is not specified, the first key will be
             set.  Encryption keys can either be normal text (i.e., ``hello'')
             or a series of hexadecimal digits (i.e., ``0x1234512345'').  For
             WaveLAN Turbo Silver cards, the key is restricted to 40 bits,
             hence the key can be either a 5 character text string or 10 hex
             digits.  For WaveLAN Turbo Gold cards, the key can also be 104
             bits, which means the key can be specified as either a 13
             character text string or 26 hex digits in addition to the formats
             supported by the Silver cards.

             For maximum portability, hex keys are recommended; the mapping of
             text keys to WEP encryption is usually driver-specific.  In
             particular, the Windows drivers do this mapping differently to

             Note: Both 128-bit and 64-bit WEP encryption have been broken.
             See the BUGS section for details.

     -T 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
             This flag is obsolete.  The ifconfig(8) weptxkey should be used

             Specify which of the four WEP encryption keys will be used to
             encrypt transmitted packets.

             Note: Both 128-bit and 64-bit WEP have been broken.  See the BUGS
             section for details.

     -f frequency
             This flag is deprecated.  Use ifconfig(8) channel instead.

             Set the radio frequency of a given interface.  The frequency
             should be specified as a channel ID as shown in the table below.
             The list of available frequencies is dependent on radio
             regulations specified by regional authorities.  Recognized
             regulatory authorities include the FCC (United States), ETSI
             (Europe), France and Japan.  Frequencies in the table are
             specified in MHz.

                   Channel ID       FCC       ETSI       France       Japan
                   1                2412      2412       -            2412
                   2                2417      2417       -            2417
                   3                2422      2422       -            2422
                   4                2427      2427       -            2427
                   5                2432      2432       -            2432
                   6                2437      2437       -            2437
                   7                2442      2442       -            2442
                   8                2447      2447       -            2447
                   9                2452      2452       -            2452
                   10               2457      2457       2457         2457
                   11               2462      2462       2462         2462
                   12               -         2467       2467         2467
                   13               -         2472       2472         2472
                   14               -         -          -            2484

             If an illegal channel is specified, the NIC will revert to its
             default channel.  For NICs sold in the United States and Europe,
             the default channel is 3.  For NICs sold in France, the default
             channel is 11.  For NICs sold in Japan, the default channel is
             14, and it is the only available channel for pre-11Mbps NICs.
             Note that two stations must be set to the same channel in order
             to communicate.

     -P 0 | 1
             This flag is obsolete.  The ifconfig(8) powersave should be used

             Enable or disable power management on a given interface.
             Enabling power management uses an alternating sleep/wake protocol
             to help conserve power on mobile stations, at the cost of some
             increased receive latency.  Power management is off by default.
             Note that power management requires the cooperation of an access
             point in order to function; it is not functional in ad-hoc mode.
             Also, power management is only implemented in Lucent WavePOINT
             firmware version 2.03 or later, and in WaveLAN PCMCIA adapter
             firmware 2.00 or later.  Older revisions will silently ignore the
             power management setting.  Legal values for this parameter are 0
             (off) and 1 (on).

     -S max_sleep_interval
             This flag is obsolete.  The ifconfig(8) powersleep should be used

             Specify the sleep interval to use when power management is
             enabled.  The max_sleep_interval is specified in milliseconds.
             The default is 100.

     ath(4), awi(4), ipsec(4), wi(4), ifconfig(8)

     The wicontrol utility first appeared in FreeBSD 3.0.

     The wicontrol utility was written by Bill Paul <>.

     There are deprecated flags here that duplicate functionality of
     ifconfig(8).  These flags were deprecated in FreeBSD 5.1 and will be
     removed in a future release.

     The WEP encryption method has been broken so that third parties can
     recover the keys in use relatively quickly at distances that are
     surprising to most people.  Do not rely on WEP for anything but the most
     basic, remedial security.  IPSEC will give you a higher level of security
     and should be used whenever possible.  Do not trust access points or
     wireless machines that connect through them as they can provide no
     assurance that the traffic is legitimate.  MAC addresses can easily be
     forged and should therefore not be used as the only access control.

     The attack on WEP is a passive attack, requiring only the ability to
     sniff packets on the network.  The passive attack can be launched at a
     distance larger, up to many miles, than one might otherwise expect given
     a specialized antenna used in point to point applications.  The attacker
     can recover the keys from a 128-bit WEP network with only 5,000,000 to
     6,000,000 packets.  While this may sound like a large number of packets,
     empirical evidence suggests that this amount of traffic is generated in a
     few hours on a partially loaded network.  Once a key has been
     compromised, the only remedial action is to discontinue it and use a new

     See for details of
     the attack.  Many programs to assist in cracking WEP keys are widely

     If you must use WEP, you are strongly encouraged to pick keys whose bytes
     are random and not confined to ASCII characters.  Brute force attacks on
     WEP keys are also possible.  Experience has showns that ASCII keys can be
     cracked in less than a day.  Even random bytes can be cracked in less
     than two weeks.

     Signal cache is broken right now.

FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE        October 12, 2006        FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE


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