Wireless Drivers

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With the ever changing arena of the wireless driver world and the mac80211 stack, we wanted to dedicate a page that would sort out some tricky wireless driver setups. Before you start your journey into BackTrack wireless world, you should first identify your wireless card chipset with 100% certainty. If in doubt, you can always try plugging in the card into a Linux box, and see what dmesg has to say.

BackTrack 5 r2

BackTrack 5 R2 contains patched stock kernel 3.2.6 wireless drivers with several injection patches applied.


BackTrack 5 R2 has switched from b43 drivers to brcmsmac drivers. If you need to enable the b43 drivers, follow this howto - http://www.backtrack-linux.org/wiki/index.php?title=Enable_b43_drivers_in_Backtrack5_r2.

BackTrack 5 r1

BackTrack 5 R1 contains patched stock kernel wireless drivers with several injection patches applied. Depending on card and setup, these drivers might not suit you.


In some cases we've seen cards using the rt2800usb drivers (such as the AWUS036NH and AWUS036NEH ALFAs) act strange with the BT5R1 kernel. If this happens to you, you can try installing a recent compat-wireless and building it on your own. This specific version will work:

root@bt:~# ln -s /usr/src/linux /lib/modules/
root@bt:~# cd/usr/src/
root@bt:~# wget http://linuxwireless.org/download/compat-wireless-2.6/compat-wireless-2011-07-14.tar.bz2
root@bt:~# tar jxpf compat-wireless-2011-07-14.tar.bz2  
root@bt:~# wget http://www.backtrack-linux.org/2.6.39.patches.tar
root@bt:~# tar xpf 2.6.39.patches.tar
root@bt:~# cd compat-wireless-2011-07-14 
root@bt:~# patch -p1 < ../patches/mac80211-2.6.29-fix-tx-ctl-no-ack-retry-count.patch 
root@bt:~# patch -p1 < ../patches/mac80211.compat08082009.wl_frag+ack_v1.patch 
root@bt:~# patch -p1 < ../patches/zd1211rw-2.6.28.patch 
root@bt:~# patch -p1 < ../patches/ipw2200-inject.2.6.36.patch 
root@bt:~# make 
root@bt:~# make install
root@bt:~# reboot

BackTrack 5

BackTrack 5 contains patched stock kernel 2.6.38 wireless drivers, as well as several "external" drivers. Some of these drivers overlap, to provide maximum flexibility with various wireless attacks. The /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist dictates which preferred drivers are loaded at boot-time. Generally speaking, all the older IEEE drivers are blacklisted and need to be loaded manually if you want to use them.

Wireless Drivers

rtl8187 vs r8187

This is a confusing one. The rtl8187 is the mac80211 stack driver, while the r8187 is the old IEEE driver. Both support injection. The newer mac80211 rtl8187 drivers seem to have a nasty bug in VMWare. For more information about these drivers check our rtl8187 vs r8187 page.

compat wireless

As Linux wireless drivers mature, more chipsets get added to the compatibility list. If none of the native BackTrack kernel drivers work for you, you might want to consider using a more recent version of compat-wireless.
Check out the compat-wireless page for information on how to get those drivers up and running.

Wireless Cards


Tested and working cards

We were able to test the following cards. Note that "passed" means "passed an aireplay -9" injection test. We will be expanding on this list as more feedback domes form the community. From our testing we found that most major chipsets were supported, as well as the most common cards.

  • AWUS036H (rtl8187, r8187) - both mac80211 and IEEE drivers - passed
  • AWUS036NH (Ralink RT2870/3070) - using the mac80211 rt2x00usb drivers - passed
  • BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY (rev 01) - using the mac80211 b43, works well - passed
  • Rockland N3 - (Ralink RT2870/3070) - using the mac80211 rt2x00usb drivers -passed
  • Edimax EW-7318USG USB - (Ralink RT2501/RT2573) - using the mac80211 rt2500usb/rt73usb drivers -passed
  • ASUSTek Computer, Inc. RT2573 - using the mac80211 rt2500usb/rt73usb drivers -passed
  • Linksys WUSB54GC ver 3 - using the mac80211 rt2800usb drivers -passed
  • Ubiquiti SRC - using the mac80211 ath9k drivers-passed
  • Internal Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 3945ABG - using the mac80211 iwl3945 drivers-passed
  • Dlink WNA-2330 PCMCIA - using the mac80211 ath5k drivers-passed
  • Atheros Communications Inc. AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) (rev 01) - using the mac80211 ath9k drivers-passed
  • Netgear wg111v2 - using the mac80211 rtl8187 drivers-passed
  • ZyXEL AG-225H v2 - using the mac80211 zd1211 drivers - passed
  • Intel 4956/5xxx - using the iwlagn drivers - passed

Working, without injection

  • Broadcom Corporation BCM4321 802.11a/b/g/n (rev 03)
  • Broadcom Corporation BCM4322 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller (rev 01)

NON working cards

  • D-Link DWL-122 - using the mac80211 prism2_usb drivers - fail
  • Linksys WUSB600N v2 - using the mac80211 rt2800usb drivers - fail
  • AWUS051NH - fail