WLAN(4) BSD Kernel Interfaces Manual WLAN(4)NAMEwlan — generic 802.11 link-layer support
The wlan module provides generic code to support 802.11 drivers. Where a
device does not directly support 802.11 functionality this layer fills
in. The wlan module is required by all native 802.11 drivers as well as
the ndis(4) support.
wlan supports multi-mode devices capable of operating in both 2.4GHz and
5GHz bands and supports numerous 802.11 standards: 802.11a, 802.11b,
802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11s (Draft 3.0). The WPA, 802.11i, and 802.1x
security protocols are supported through a combination of in-kernel code
and user-mode applications. The WME/WMM multi-media protocols are sup‐
ported entirely within the wlan module but require a suitably capable
hardware device. Likewise the 802.11h specification is supported only by
suitably capable devices.
Drivers provide 802.11 functionality through wlan interfaces that are
created at runtime using interface cloning. This is done with the
ifconfig(8) create command or using the wlans_IFX variable in rc.conf(5).
Some drivers support the creation of multiple wlan interfaces that share
the same underlying device; this is the way by which ``multi-bss sup‐
port'' is provided but it can also be used to create WDS links and other
There are several types of wlan interfaces that may be created:
sta A client station in an infrastructure bss (i.e. one that asso‐
ciates to an access point).
hostap An access point in an infrastructure bss.
mesh A mesh station in an MBSS network.
adhoc A station in an IBSS network.
ahdemo A station operating in ``adhoc demo mode''. This is essentially
an IBSS station that does not use management frames (e.g. no
beacons are transmitted). An ahdemo interface is especially
useful for applications that want to transmit and receive raw
monitor An interface used exclusively for capturing 802.11 frames. In
particular this specified to have read-only properties which
enables it to be operated on frequencies where one would other‐
wise not be allowed.
wds A station that passes 4-address 802.11 traffic for the purpose
of tunneling traffic over a wireless link. Typically this sta‐
tion would share the same MAC address as a hostap interface. It
may be possible to create wds interfaces without a companion
hostap interface but that is not guaranteed; one may need to
create a hostap interface that does not send beacon frames
before wds interfaces may be created.
Note that an interface's type cannot be changed once it is created.
wlan defines several mechanisms by which plugin modules may be used to
extend its' functionality. Cryptographic support such as WEP, TKIP, and
AES-CCMP are implemented as standalone modules (if not statically config‐
ured into a system) that register with wlan. Similarly there is an
authenticator framework for defining 802.11 authentication services and a
framework for integrating access control mechanisms specific to the
Debugging controls are available using:
where X is the number of the wlan instance and mask is a bit-or of con‐
trol bits that determine which debugging messages to enable. For exam‐
enables debugging messages related to scanning for an access point, adhoc
neighbor, or an unoccupied channel when operation as an access point.
The wlandebug(8) tool provides a more user-friendly mechanism for doing
the same thing. Note that
defines the initial value of the debugging flags for each cloned wlan
interface; this is useful to enable debug messages during interface cre‐
The module name of wlan was used to be compatible with NetBSD.
Mesh stations follow the 802.11s Draft 3.0 specification which is not
ratified and subject to change. Beware that this specification is incom‐
patible with earlier drafts; and stations implementing earlier drafts
(e.g. Linux) may not interoperate.
SEE ALSOan(4), ath(4), bwi(4), ipw(4), iwi(4), iwn(4), malo(4), netintro(4),
ral(4), rum(4), uath(4), upgt(4), ural(4), urtw(4), wi(4), wlan_acl(4),
wlan_ccmp(4), wlan_tkip(4), wlan_wep(4), wlan_xauth(4), wpi(4), zyd(4)STANDARDS
More information can be found in the IEEE 802.11 Standards.
The wlan driver first appeared in FreeBSD 5.0.
Atsushi Onoe is the author of original NetBSD software from which this
work began. Sam Leffler brought the code into FreeBSD and then rewrote
it to support multi-mode devices, 802.11g, 802.11n, WPA/802.11i, WME,
multi-bss, and add the extensible frameworks for cryptographic, authenti‐
cation, and access control plugins. This manual page was written by Tom
BSD July 8, 2009 BSD