Connecting to the UNC Network – Linux

Linux is an unsupported operating system on campus. Regardless, there is a demand for documentation on several basic points. Any technical questions in regard to Linux will be addressed with a best-effort approach.


There are many graphic interfaces for configuring wireless cards in various Linux distributions (Yast for Suse, etc) and we encourage you to use them when available. The basic settings can be found in the document Connecting to the UNC Network – Misc. Device Wireless Configuration.

If a graphical interface is not an option, however, a command line approach is needed. Find the appropriate drivers for your card. Most popular companies release a compatible Linux driver for their cards, some are made by power Linux users, and all are usually available online. Research from is a good place to start for information on a laptop (sorted by model).

Once you have a driver and your computer is recognizing its presence, connecting to UNC’s network is fairly simple. Open a new shell and enter the following (case of all letters is important!):

$  iwconfig  eth1  essid  UNC-PSK  $  iwconfig  eth1  key  ***********  restricted  $  iwconfig  eth1  key  on  $  dhcpcd  eth1

NOTE:  The ******* portion is the PSK key, which changes every semester and can be found at  You can load these settings to install automatically in various places, depending on your distribution. Some newer distributions save these settings on shutdown and may not require entering every time.

Finding a wireless zone

In order to get connected to the UNC network via wireless, your machine must be within a wireless zone. Wireless access is not available everywhere on the UNC campus. However, many classrooms and campus gathering places are covered. See our Wireless Access Point Locations document for specifics.

Also, see our list of Wireless and Wi-Fi Best Practices and FAQs.