In a recent tutorial, I showed you how to use Wi-Fi on your Raspberry Pi (with 5 different solutions)
Here, I will show you the opposite :). That’s to say, how to disable your Wi-Fi adapter and use only the Ethernet cable.
How to disable Wi-Fi on Raspberry Pi?
Wi-Fi is not necessary when you always use your Raspberry Pi connected with an Ethernet cable.
The easiest way is to turn it off manually with
sudo ifconfig wlan0 down.
But it’s not permanent, and there are many other solutions to do this.
In this post, I will show you 7 ways to disable your Wi-Fi forever (until you reverse your changes).
Most of them will work on any operating system, but I only tested on Raspberry Pi OS.
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As I already showed you half of the first solution, I will start with this one.
In the introduction, I gave you one command to temporarily disable your Wi-Fi interface.
Here is one way to disable it automatically at each reboot:
- If you are on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop, start by opening a terminal (or jump to the next solution, easier for you).
- Then open the crontab in edit mode:
sudo crontab -e
Crontab is something like a tool to configure scheduled tasks, you can learn more here about Linux crons.
When you use
sudo crontabinstead of
crontab, you are scheduling the tasks for the root user
- If it’s the first time you do this, select your favorite text editor.
Press enter to stay with nano:
- In the crontab file, add the following line at the end:
@reboot ifconfig wlan0 down
- Save and exit (CTRL+O and CTRL+X with nano).
Your Wi-Fi adapter will now stop directly at each boot, so you are sure to use the Ethernet cable all the time.
To bring the Wi-Fi up again (temporarily), use:
sudo ifconfig wlan0 up
Or remove the line in the crontab to enable it at each boot.
Are you a bit lost in the Linux command line? Check this article first, for the most important commands to remember, and a free downloadable cheat sheet so you can have the commands at your fingertips.
2: Raspberry Pi OS Desktop
Most of my solutions here are for Raspberry Pi OS Lite.
If you are on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop, there is an easy way to disable the Wi-Fi adapter:
- On the right top bar (near the clock), find the Wi-Fi icon.
- Click on it (left click).
- A menu like this shows up:
- Click on “Turn Off WiFi” to disable it.
You need to do this after each reboot, but it’s this easy.
I didn’t find a permanent way on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop.
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3: Raspi blacklist
The third way to disable Wi-Fi on your Raspberry Pi is more extreme.
On Debian, as on many other distributions, modprobe is a program that loads kernel modules on boot.
You can choose to disable some modules, like the Wi-Fi drivers for your Raspberry Pi:
- In a terminal, open the following file:
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/raspi-blacklist.conf
- Paste these two lines in it (the file is probably empty):
- Save and exit (CTRL+O, CTRL+X).
Then reboot your Raspberry Pi (with an Ethernet cable plugged), and you won’t see the Wi-Fi adapter on the next boot.
Remove the two lines from the file to reactivate it.
Another method you can try is to edit the Raspberry Pi OS configuration file.
The good news is that you can even do this on a fresh Raspberry Pi OS SD card in order to disable the Wi-Fi directly.
Here is how to do this:
- You can open a terminal, connect via SSH, or edit the file directly on the SD card from your computer.
- Open the config.txt file with nano:
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
- Find the following line:
# Additional overlays and parameters are documented /boot/overlays/README
- And add these two lines under it:
The second line is for the Bluetooth module.
- Save and exit (CTRL+O, CTRL+X).
- Reboot your Raspberry Pi to check if everything works as expected.
Note: on older Raspberry Pi OS versions, you need to add pi3 at the beginning, like this:
This one is almost the same as the blacklist solution, but it’s a temporary one.
You can use modprobe as a command instead of editing the configuration file.
Here is the command (use this in a terminal if you are on Raspberry Pi OS Desktop):
sudo modprobe -rv brcmfmac
This command will also remove brcmutil and cfg80211 automatically.
To bring back the Wi-Fi adapter, use this one:
sudo modprobe brcmfmac
If the first solution didn’t work for you, you can also use this command in a crontab to do it automatically on boot.
RFKill is a command line tool to query, enable or disable radio transmitters on a system.
That’s exactly what we want to do, so we can use RFKill to disable our Wi-Fi adapter.
RFKill is available directly on any Raspberry Pi OS version.
Here is how to do this:
- Open a terminal and enter the following commands:
sudo rfkill block wifi
sudo rfkill block bluetooth
- This should disable your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards directly.
The block command is persistent after a reboot.
To enable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, use the
unblock command like this:
sudo rfkill unblock wifi
sudo rfkill unblock bluetooth
Finally, the last solution I want to show you is to use
systemctl to stop the wireless services.
Systemd is the service manager on many Linux distributions, and you can use
systemctl to see and control each service state.
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Here are the three commands to do to disable all services:
sudo systemctl disable wpa_supplicant
sudo systemctl disable bluetooth
sudo systemctl disable hciuart
Then reboot your Pi to apply the changes.
Use the “enable” command to use the Wi-Fi again.
Note: This is not working on my Pi 4 with the latest Raspberry Pi OS, but I have seen these commands many times, and I’m sure to have used them in the past, so it’s probably working on other OS or Raspberry Pi models. I give it to you as a last chance if everything else is not working for you.
Tips to improve your network speed
One of the reasons you might be reading this tutorial is if you have network issues, like disconnections or low speed.
Here are a few other things you can try to solve this:
- Use a Raspberry Pi 4: The previous Raspberry Pi models didn’t include a gigabit Ethernet port (even the Raspberry Pi 3B+ is limited to 300 MB max). By using a recent model, you can really improve your network speed for projects where it’s essential.
- Use a better switch: If you have an old router that provides an Internet connection, it may not be the best solution for a fast network between your computer and your Raspberry Pi. Adding a faster switch, with 1 GB Ethernet ports on it, will improve your transfer rates.
- Replace the Ethernet cables: Maybe not the more efficient solution, but definitely the cheapest one. I’ve been using the same Ethernet cables for years, but new ones are better and better, and if you have a 20-year-old cable that you replace with a new one, it may be enough to improve the network speed (and solve most of the disconnections by the way).
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That’s it! I think we have seen most of the solutions available.
I hope you found one that works for you, and that this post was helpful.
If you have any other ideas to do the same thing, feel free to leave a comment below.
And to conclude, here are a few related tutorials that might be useful next:
- 15 Easy Projects for Raspberry Pi Beginners (With Links)
- Install Webmin and configure your system without any command
- How to Login as Root on Raspberry Pi OS?
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