How to Create a Wifi Hotspot in Ubuntu

A photograph of a console panel showing both the phone service icon and the Wi-Fi icon.

For a long time on Windows, it has been possible to use a wireless networking adapter to share an Internet connection with other computers. On Linux, broadcasting a hotspot hasn’t always been easy. Until recently, users had to manually enter the command line, bridge adapters together, set up IPtables, etc. In newer versions of Ubuntu, you can now easily make shareable connections via hotspots through the GUI. This article will show you how to make a Wi-Fi hotspot on both GUI and the Terminal in Ubuntu Linux.

Creating the Wi-Fi Hotspot

To use your Ubuntu computer as a Wi-Fi hotspot, you need to first connect it to an external network source. This is because the hotspot function will disable your adapter’s ability to listen and connect to active Wi-Fi access points.

The quickest way to do this is by connecting your machine to an Ethernet network. For that, disable your machine’s Wi-Fi adapter by clicking the Quick Settings menu on the desktop’s upper right corner.

A screenshot highlighting the Quick Menu button on the Ubuntu desktop.

Click the “Wi-Fi” button on the menu’s lower left side.

A screenshot highlighting the Wi-Fi toggle switch on the Ubuntu Quick Menu.

Plug in your Ethernet cable and check if the computer detects your new wired connection.

Confirm that your wired network is working properly by opening the terminal and pinging an external website:

ping -c 5

To share this wired connection through Wi-Fi, open Ubuntu’s quick menu button then click the Gear icon. This will open the machine’s System Settings window.

A screenshot highlighting the Settings button on the Ubuntu Quick Menu.

Click the Wi-Fi category on the window’s left sidebar, then toggle the Wi-Fi switch to re-enable the wireless adapter.

Select the Turn On Wi-Fi Hotspot… button.

A screenshot highlighting the Wi-Fi hotspot option on the Wi-Fi category.

This will open a small window where the system will ask you for your hotspot’s details. You can either provide your own password or leave it blank to use a random one.

Click Turn On to enable your new Wi-Fi hotspot.

A screenshot highlighting the

Test if your wireless adapter is broadcasting its access point properly by connecting a device to it.

FYI: learn how you can fix a broken Wi-Fi setup on Linux.

Creating a Wi-Fi Hotspot Using Bluetooth Tethering

Aside from Ethernet, you can also share your computer’s internet connection through Bluetooth tethering. This is useful if you want to create a Wi-Fi hotspot while on the go but don’t have a phone that’s capable of making one.

To start, open your computer’s System Settings then click the Bluetooth category on the window’s left sidebar.

A screenshot highlighting the Bluetooth category on Ubuntu's Settings window.

Turn on your Bluetooth adapter by toggling its switch on the window’s titlebar.

A screenshot highlighting the Bluetooth toggle switch on the Bluetooth category.

Go to your phone’s Settings app, then also enable its Bluetooth adapter. In Android 13, you can do that by going to Settings -> Connected devices.

Tap the Pair new device option on your phone.

A screenshot highlighting the "Pair new device" option on the phone's Bluetooth menu.

Doing this will reveal your phone to your computer. Click the name of your smartphone on Ubuntu’s Bluetooth window.

A screenshot highlighting the phone's Bluetooth label.

Open Ubuntu’s Quick Settings menu, then select Tether. This will automatically set up Bluetooth tethering between your computer and your phone.

A screenshot highlighting the "Tether" button on Ubuntu's Quick Settings menu.

Check if your Bluetooth-tethered connection is working properly by pinging an external website.

ping -c 5

Go back to the System Settings window, then click the Wi-Fi category.

Make sure that the Wi-Fi toggle switch is on, then click Turn On Wi-Fi Hotspot…

Double-check if your hotspot’s information is correct, then click Turn On to start your Wi-Fi hotspot in Ubuntu.

A screenshot highlighting the

Confirm that your new hotspot is working correctly by connecting a device to it and browsing the web.

Good to know: learn how to solve basic network issues by using Traceroute in Linux.

Creating a Wi-Fi Hotspot Using the Command Line

On top of broadcasting Wi-Fi hotspots through the Gnome interface, Ubuntu also allows you to create them through the command line. This can be helpful in cases where you’re trying to share a network connection without any GUI.

Ensure that your system is connected to the internet through a different network interface. This could either be through Ethernet or Bluetooth tethering.

Open a new terminal session and check for all the network interfaces present on your computer:

Find your wireless network interface from the command’s output. In my case, my wireless card is “wlp0s20f3.”

A terminal highlighting the device name for the wireless interface.

Run the following command to initialize your Wi-Fi hotspot:

nmcli con add type wifi \
ifname wlan0 \
con-name my-hotspot \
autoconnect yes \
ssid MyHotspot \
mode ap

Configure your access point’s internal settings:

nmcli con modify my-hotspot \
802-11-wireless.mode ap \
802-11-wireless-security.key-mgmt wpa-psk \
ipv4.method shared \
802-11-wireless-security.psk 'YOUR-WIFI-PASSWORD'

Note: make sure that your hotspot password is more than 8 characters.

Enable and start your new Wi-Fi hotspot by running the following:

Check if your hotspot is working properly by connecting a device through it.

A screenshot highlighting the custom Wi-Fi hotspot showing up on the phone.

The self-broadcasted wireless hotspot solution works in a pinch and can get users out of tight spots when a wireless router isn’t present. That said, routers can provide a lot more functionality than your standard wireless adapter. Learn what’s the best custom router firmware that you can install on your device today.

Image credit: Praveen kumar Mathivanan via Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons. All alterations and screenshots by Ramces Red.

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Ramces Red

Ramces is a technology writer that lived with computers all his life. A prolific reader and a student of Anthropology, he is an eccentric character that writes articles about Linux and anything *nix.

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