Install a wireless adapter on Kali Linux

I have been doing a course recently which requires both Kali Linux and a wireless adapter which supports both “monitor” mode and “packet” mode….no prizes for guessing what kind of course this is.

Anyway I thought I would post this short write up on how to do this as installing a USB wireless adapter in Kali, as it has its issues. I recently posted this in a another forum and it seems to work for most so thought I would share.

Wireless adapater chipset is: “Realtek AR8812AU 2.4 & 5 Ghz USB Wireless Adapter” and my setup is 1 x server running Windows 2016 with Virtual box 5.2.18 with extension pack 5.2.18 installed & Kali Linux 2018.2 x64 (note these instruction sets work for all versions)

First time Install

sudo apt-get install realtek-rtl88xxau-dkms, verify it installs correctly by running the cmd again and this should say the below:

kali install

  • Power down your Kali Machine
  • Remove the USB adapter
  • Boot until host OS is up and ensure USB is recognized (devices > USB)
  • Start your virtualization platform (mine is Virtual box) in “settings” under “USB” leave the wireless adapter un-checked so it is not available when Kali boots.
    • Note repeat this when starting Kali normally, un-known reason why Kali does not like the adapter being present when booting. (see below)
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

If the “upgrade” fails as mine did then try with the below key:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 7D8D0BF6

Add in USB adapter – In “Virtual Box” this is top menu bar “devices” > “USB” > and select your adapter

USB adapter

Note the failed upgrade is what seemed to stall my installation heavily so the above is key.

Note even when now added the below commands do not seem to register the adapter so we need to restart the network manager

ifconfig or iwconfig

To restart network manager follow the below:

sudo systemctl restart network-manager

Now if you try to list USB devices attached to the machine you should get a list as pictured below:



If you now run the below commands you can see the adapter registered:

iwconfig ifconfig


You can then go ahead and change your MAC address and switch your network adapter in to monitor mode, for example:

ifconfig wlan 0 down 
macchanger --random 
ifconfig wlan 0 up


ifconfig wlan0 down 
iwconfig wlan0 mode monitor 
ifconfig wlan0 up 

Restarting Kali Machine

So that covers the first time install, but you will find that even when you restart Kali the adapter is not recognized and your iwconfig commands return no value. To get around this its simple just follow the below steps:

  • Start Kali without the USB attached (under devices > USB)
  • Wait for Kali to boot and login
  • Add the USB device
sudo systemctl restart network-manager
  • Then run to verify adapter is up and running

I hope this helps as it took me a while to get this running and installed, so thought I would share. 




6 thoughts on “Install a wireless adapter on Kali Linux

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s