install Unifi controller on raspberry pi

How to install and configure Unifi controller on Raspberry Pi?

If you have already managed multiple Wi-Fi access points, you should know that this can be a nightmare …
But with good choices for hardware and a controller, this becomes easier.
It’s the main goal of the Unifi controller: manage most of the tasks on a wireless network to avoid issues.
It’s available on Raspberry Pi and I will show you how to install it.

The Unifi controller can be installed on a Raspberry Pi by adding the Debian repository from the manufacturer, and using apt to install all the required packages. A .deb package is also available directly on the website. The configuration can then be done via a convenient web interface.

The installation is straightforward, you can install it like any Debian package.
But the access points configuration is not so easy and I saw no article explaining this.
As I’m using it at work, I can show you all the configuration steps with real access points and clients.

Before switching to Ubiquiti products, I remember having tested many brands to solve my issues, but none of them could support over 10-20 users simultaneously (I even tested a fireproof model from D-Link, something like this one on Amazon ^^). So, I definitely recommend trying Ubiquiti, this is cheap compared to other famous brands but works very well. Let’s see how to do this!

If you’re looking to quickly progress on Raspberry Pi, you can check out my e-book here. It’s a 30-day challenge where you learn one new thing every day until you become a Raspberry Pi expert. The first third of the book teaches you the basics, but the following chapters include projects you can try on your own.

Ubiquiti Networks products

Ubiquiti Networks introduction

Ubiquiti Networks is an American company, selling hardware for wireless technologies like access points, routers and cameras.
They started with wireless devices, and they are now diversifying upon a broader range of products.
The latest innovative product concerns the solar technology, they help you to manage solar farms.

Anyway, the product that interests us today is a software: Unifi controller.
The goal of this product is to manage access points and wireless devices from a unique web interface.
From the interface, you can see all the access points and broadcast a unique SSID.
The controller will handle the roaming between access points and load distribution.

Why do I need these products?

These products target mainly companies and large areas but you can have the same needs at home if you get some issues with your Wi-Fi connection (rooms with no network, roaming, stability, etc.).
If you need over one access point to cover all the house, it could be interesting to install these products at home.

For example, let’s say you install three access points and the controller somewhere.
You’ll have only one Wi-Fi SSID in all the area (outdoor included).
And you can move from one side to another without disconnection.

Ubiquiti products

Ubiquiti products are distributed by resellers, but are also available on several e-commerce websites:

To test these products, you don’t need many things.
Just buy one or more access points and build your professional wireless network.
Here is the link: Ubiquiti Unifi AP on Amazon.

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You have several packages available: Only one, 2 AP (access point), 4 AP, etc.
Choose the one you prefer, but there is not a big saving by taking big packs, so you can try with one or two, and order the others after.

If you have a PoE Switch (like this one on Amazon), you can plug them only to the network cable. An Ubiquiti switch is not mandatory, this one from Cisco is cheaper for example. It depends on what you want to do with it and how many APs you have.

Whatever your choice, a PoE switch will make the installation easier
If you want to start without it, there is a last option.
Ubiquiti provides an adapter with the AP (power cord + network = PoE Network), but you need a power outlet and two RJ45 cables instead of only one cable for everything.
Here is the link to the PoE injector on Amazon, make sure to check the AP power requirements are they are not all the same (a Pro AP needs PoE-48 for example).

Unifi controller installation

Now that you understand what are the Unifi products, we can move to the controller installation.

Here are the required steps to install the Unifi controller on a Raspberry Pi :

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  • Install and update Raspberry Pi OS.
  • Set a static IP address.
  • Add the Unifi repository to your system.
  • Install the Unifi package with apt.
  • Start the service.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything in details in the following.

Installation on Raspberry Pi OS

As for any tutorial on this site, you firstly need to install Raspberry Pi OS on your Raspberry Pi.
Any version will do the job (I’m doing it with Raspberry Pi OS Lite).
If you don’t know how to do this, read my article on How to install Raspberry Pi OS on your Raspberry Pi.

Once installed, update it and reboot:
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo reboot

And enable SSH access with:
sudo service ssh start
This way you can follow this tutorial from your computer (if needed, check this post to learn more about this).

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.

Note: If you don’t use Raspberry Pi OS, I have an article on this website on how to install Unifi on Ubuntu. Should work for most Debian-based distributions.

Set a static IP address

As our Raspberry Pi will be like a server on our network, we need to use:

  • A wired connection
    If you want a fast Wi-Fi network, you need to have your controller and your access point on a good connection.
    So, I don’t recommend setting up the controller with a Wi-Fi connection (at home it’s probably ok).
  • A static IP address
    The Raspberry Pi will become an important node on your network, so we need to fix its IP.
    By default, the Raspberry Pi use the DHCP to get a random IP among those available.

For the static IP, you can either fix the IP in the DHCP server (your Internet router probably), or set a static IP in the Raspberry Pi configuration. If you don’t know how to do this, I already explained it at the end of this article, feel free to take a look before going further: Set a static IP address on your Raspberry Pi.

Unifi controller installation

Now we are ready to start the installation.
For these steps you have two choices:

  • Download and install directly the official Debian package from the website.
  • Add a new repository to manage the Unifi package with apt.

On the Ubiquiti downloads page you can find the Debian package to install the controller.
You can download it and install it on your Raspberry Pi.
But I don’t recommend it.

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Because the Controller has many updates, about every month you have to download and install a new version manually.
There is a repository available and it’s easier to manage all updates with apt rather than doing everything manually.

  • Connect with SSH to your Raspberry Pi.
  • Add the repository in the apt configuration file:
    echo 'deb stable ubiquiti' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/100-ubnt-unifi.list
  • Add the key to the trusted keys:
    sudo wget -O /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/unifi-repo.gpg
    This allows us to use software from the previous repository
  • Run apt update to update the available packages list :
    sudo apt update
  • And finally, install the Unifi package:
    sudo apt install unifi
    Answer yes and wait a few seconds for the installation process to finish. It will install the service and a few dependencies (like MongoDB server).

This is the end of the installation procedure, but your controller may not work yet.
You can check the service status with:
sudo service unifi status
If you get an error like this one on a fresh Raspberry Pi OS installation:

Starting Ubiquiti UniFi Controller: unifi
Cannot locate Java Home

Then you need to install Java to start the Unifi service.
Currently, the Unifi controller requires Java 8.
You may already have it from another application, but if you have this error, here is how to fix it:
sudo apt install openjdk-8-jre
Note: I tried with other versions but it doesn’t work, so I suppose it requires Java 8.

Finally, start the Unifi service:
sudo service unifi start
You can find more details about Java in this tutorial.

Check the status again if you want:

If everything is ok, you can move on to the next part to know how to use the software.

Unifi controller configuration

First access

To access the web interface, go to https://<IP>:8443
For example, in my case it’s
You’ll get a browser warning because we don’t have a secured certificate for the moment.

Accept the exception and move to the next page to configure everything you need to get started:

  • Step1: Start by giving a name to his controller, check the license agreement box and click on “Next”
  • Step 2: Choose if you want to enable the cloud interface (default) or not (advanced).
    It depends on what you are trying to do.
    If you are always on the same network (home or in a company), you don’t really need the cloud panel. But it can be useful for remote sites.
    • If you keep the default option, fill the form to create an Unifi account.
    • On the advanced option, you have a form like this:

      If you enable one option, you need to create a cloud account AND a local account.
      I don’t need it for my test, so I disable everything.
  • Step 3: Sign in or configure options.
    This step is also different depending on your choice in the previous step.
    You may need to sign in your account, or just to configure two additional options (auto backup and auto-optimize).
    Keep them enabled if asked.
  • Step 4: Configure your devices.

    You can just skip this, it’s not required for now. You can add devices at anytime in the interface.
  • Step5: You can finally configure your Wi-Fi settings now.

    You can also change this in the interface, so just pick something to get started.
  • Step6: Finally, you also need to review your settings and you are ready to go.

Good job! You will now be redirected to the web panel.
We can finally see it and configure more things if needed.

Web interface overview

Once logged in the web interface, you’ll get many submenus to manage everything.
For the moment, it should be pretty empty, but in the left bar you can see:

  • Dashboard: Here you can have a preview of your network performance (number of APs and clients).
    Most of this dashboard needs the Unifi Security Gateway, so it’s not an important page.
  • Statistics: In this page you can monitor clients and traffic in the whole network.
    For the moment, nothing here 🙂
  • Map: In this one you can upload a map of your building, and place all APs on it.
    This way you can know where they are and see the global Wi-Fi coverage (approximately).
  • Devices: This page shows you all the Unifi devices you have on your network.
    It’s the most important page, you will manage APs from here.
  • Clients: Same thing for the clients. You’ll see here all the connected clients with information about them (IP, AP, network usage, …):
  • Insights: Here you can see miscellaneous information.
    I’m using this mainly to see known clients (not connected now, but you can check the history, block or unblock them).
  • Events: This window shows you all the recent logs on your network
    This can be clients connections, AP upgrades, roaming, …
  • Alerts: Same thing with errors and warnings.
  • Settings: And this is the page where you’ll configure everything.
    We’ll use it to create the wireless network.
  • Chat support: If you need help from Unifi, you can ask for help here.

Now that you have visited the whole interface, we can move forward to configure the access point.

Add the first access point

Physical preparation

There are two possibilities for the access point cabling.

With a PoE switch:

  • Plug the access point to the POE Switch with an RJ45 cable.
  • Basically, that’s it.
    The status light should turn on and you can move to the next step.

Without PoE switch:

  • You must have a POE adapter like this:
    unifi poe adapter
    (it’s available on Amazon if you don’t have one with your access point: check it here).
  • Connect the LAN port to your switch or wall network socket.
  • Connect the POE port to the access point.
  • If the access point LED starts to blink, it’s ok.

Software configuration

Now that we powered on the access point, we can go back to the Unifi web interface for the next steps:

  • Access the web interface: https://IP:8443.
  • Click on “Devices” in the left menu.
  • You should now see your access point in the list:
    unifi ap pending adoption
    The controller is seeing it, but we need to tell that it’s an access point for this controller.
  • Click on “Adopt” at the end of the line.
    The adoption process starts, after a few seconds, you should get the “Connected” status.
    unifi ap connected
  • If needed (probably), you can upgrade the AP firmware to the latest version by clicking “Upgrade”.
    Your access point will take a few minutes to download and update the firmware.
    unifi ap upgrade

Anyway, the first access point is ready, and we can now create the wireless network (SSID).

unifi ap properties

You can click on the line to see and change other settings for the access point (on the right).

unifi set alias access point
unifi access point new name

For example, you can set an alias for each access point to know which one is which.
In the properties window, click on the config tab and set an alias.

Change everything you want on the access point and move to the SSID creation.

Create your wireless network

Creating a wireless network is basically setting an SSID, a password and a security type.
You can do this in the “Settings” menu from the left bar:

  • In settings, click on “Wireless Networks”.
  • Then click on the “Create a new wireless network” button:
    create new network
  • In the new window, choose an SSID, a security type and a password:
    new wireless network creation
    Choose WPA-Personal for security, WEP is not secure.
    And prefer a long password (ideally a phrase from 15 to 30 characters).
  • Click “Save”.

The access points will restart with the new settings.
After a few seconds, the new wireless network is available for all your devices.

unifi wifi windows

Connect to it and check that everything works fine.
By default, the Unifi controller will give you an IP address within your main network.
You have nothing else to do, but you can change it in Settings > LAN.

Then go back to the different menus to see information and statistics about your device.
Enjoy 🙂

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Related questions

Do I need to keep the Raspberry Pi on? Not really. As soon as the Raspberry Pi stops, the controller is no longer available but the access point continue to work. You can still access the Wi-Fi network, but you lose controller’s features like roaming between APs.

Do the Unifi controller have advanced features you don’t talk about? Yes, a lot. I made a quick tutorial, but you can do a lot more: schedule downtimes, create guest access with VLAN or not, Radius with Active Directory, filter MAC address, block and unblock clients, etc …

How to reset an Unifi access point? If you lose access to an access point or have strange scenarios in the adoption process, you can reset it to factory defaults. To do this, use the reset button near the RJ45 socket. While the access point is on, let the button pressed for 10 seconds and then wait for the reset.

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That’s it, you know how to install and configure an Unifi controller on your Raspberry Pi.
This controller is running perfectly on my Raspberry Pi (3B+ and 4).
I don’t know how many clients it would handle, but at home it’s more than enough.

Whenever you’re ready, here are other ways I can help you:

The RaspberryTips Community: If you want to hang out with me and other Raspberry Pi fans, you can join the community. I share exclusive tutorials and behind-the-scenes content there. Premium members can also visit the website without ads.

Master your Raspberry Pi in 30 days: If you are looking for the best tips to become an expert on Raspberry Pi, this book is for you. Learn useful Linux skills and practice multiple projects with step-by-step guides.

The Raspberry Pi Bootcamp: Understand everything about the Raspberry Pi, stop searching for help all the time, and finally enjoy completing your projects.

Master Python on Raspberry Pi: Create, understand, and improve any Python script for your Raspberry Pi. Learn the essentials step-by-step without losing time understanding useless concepts.

You can also find all my recommendations for tools and hardware on this page.

Similar Posts


  1. Configuration recommendations?

    I’ve found that iOS devices seem to have trouble connecting if not close to the AP. The result is incorrect password but the devices connect fine when close.

    Seems odd behavior for these enterprise APs.


  2. I have yet to get this awesome (thanks for making it straight forward!) guide to work.. I realize it may be outdated and some dependencies or OS version may be effecting things. Would be great if someone could help update. Im still working at it.. (i have a working install of unifi but had to do it a very complicated way which made a mess out of the install).

    Ill post if i figure i out. Otherwise ill use my bloated install for now.

    1. Edit.. Ok well 3rd time is the charm i guess.. I literally ran every command 3x.. and it finally worked when i did an apt update and it gave warnings on how unifi package has been configured multiple times…

      1. Main error preventing me was Signatures could not be verified as public key is not available. Request issues/else? Or does it override after so many attempts to NOKEY?

  3. Hi.
    After running through the guide, I’m almost happy.
    Things seem to be fine on the Raspberry, but it doens’t answer at port 8443.
    How can I verify the installation?
    What can be wrong?
    I hope you can help me.

    1. Hi Søren,

      Did you try HTTP and HTTPS?

      I think it’s https by default
      sudo service unifi status is running ?

      1. I use the adress I looks like the port 8443 is blocked on the respberry. Is there a way to open that port?
        How do I make the sudo service running?

        Sorry, I’m very new to the Raspberry.

        1. The service will open the port on start

          sudo service unifi status
          sudo service unifi start
          sudo service unifi stop

          If it doesn’t work, you can check the logs to find the error (/var/log/syslog for example)

  4. Hello everyone,

    For information, I just updated this post

    The installation and the welcome wizard was a bit different, so this is now up to date
    I couldn’t update the screenshots on the access point adoption process due to the current lockdown. But it should be almost the same

    Let me know if you have any issues

  5. Thank you for the article. It was most helpful. The only problem I ran into was access the URL for the controller. IE, Edge, Chrome, Brave all indicated this error: ERR_SSL_VERSION_OR_CIPHER_MISMATCH. Being I had not restarted the RPi after all the steps, I decided to reboot and the problem went away. 🙂 Really great site you have!

  6. So quick question. I followed this and have everything working but there is an update to 5.14. I keep getting a message stating

    E: Repository ‘ stable InRelease’ changed its ‘Codename’ value from ‘unifi-5.13’ to ‘unifi-5.14’
    N: This must be accepted explicitly before updates for this repository can be applied. See apt-secure(8) manpage for details.

    How can I fix this?

    1. Hi Barry,

      Try this:

      • apt-get update –allow-releaseinfo-change
      • apt-get clean
      • apt-get update

      If it’s not enough, apt-get dist-upgrade can also do the job

      Let me know

  7. Hi, thanks for the article. How can I go about downgrading to 5.x.x as I’m currently on 6.0.23 and I think it’s causing me issues.

    1. Hi,
      You can’t downgrade.
      But you can uninstall it, reinstall the old version and import and old backup made with the same version.
      If you don’t have the backup it’s not possible (or at least you start from scratch and need to reset the APs).

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