The easiest way to setup a Jetson Nano for headless WiFi is to use a USB adapter. The EdiMax EW-7811Un is popular for use with the Raspberry Pi. It can also be used with a Nano, but requires a command line setting to get it to act reliably. I will show you how to do that below.
Where to buy
You can find the EdiMax EW-7811Un Wi-Fi USB Adapter here (affiliate link):
BTW, just because it says "Nano" in the title is just a coincidence, as far as I know.
Setting up a new Jetson Nano for WiFi
Before you can have a WiFi headless setup, you need to boot the Nano for the first time hooked up to an HDMI monitor, USB keyboard and mouse to create a user, etc. Before boooting it up, also plug the EdiMax into one of the USB ports.
Since you have to launch the desktop anyway, you might as well use that to setup the network connection.
Once you've setup your username and password, in the Ubuntu desktop, do the following:
Step 1 - Open the Desktop Settings menu
- Click the settings (gear) icon in the upper right corner of the desktop
Step 2 - Open the Systems Settings dialog box
- Click System Settings ... in the drop down menu
Step 3 - Setup the WiFi connection
- Click the Network dialog in the dialog box
- Setup your network connection
Step 4 - Turn off power save mode (for stability)
Even though my Nano was sitting right next to my router it kept dropping the connection. I fixed the problem with the command below to turn power save off.
- Right-click the desktop and select Open Terminal
- Type in the following command and then press Enter:
sudo iw dev wlan0 set power_save off
Step 5 - Reboot
After making changes you should reboot.
Step 6 - ssh from another computer
Once the Nano reboots, do the following on another computer that is on the same network:
- Open up a terminal window or command prompt
- Type the following in the command line (substituting user and hostname) and press Enter:
For example, my user name is
mitchand my Nano hostname is
jet1. So I do the following to connect over WiFi:
If prompted with RSA key fingerprint is ... Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? -- select Yes
- Enter your password
Step 7 - Shutdown the Nano
Whenever possible, try to avoid just pulling the plug on your Nano. Once you are done.
- Use the command-line to shut it down like this:
sudo shutdown -h now
Step 8 - Disconnect the peripherals
If you want to just use the Nano headless:
- Shutdown the Nano using the previous step
- Disconnect the power cord
- Disconnect the HDMI monitor, keyboard and mouse
Step 9 - Start the Nano headless
- Verify the USB WiFi adapter is still plugged in to the Nano
- Reconnect the power cord
- Wait 30 to 90 seconds for the Nano to boot up
Step 10 - Login again
ssh again, login to the now headless Nano over WiFi.
Step 11 - Run some updates
At this point it's a good idea to run some updates. You can do that by entering the commands below on the Nano.
- Using your remote ssh login, run the following commands:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
What about Remote Desktop?
I didn't cover setting up a remote desktop, because frankly the current OS distribution from NVIDIA is buggy. For example, the desktop sharing app kept crashing and I couldn't connect over xrdp. I've linked to an article below that has suggestions for how to fix some of the issues.
- My frequently updated Jetson Nano Resource Guide - check it out if you need things like a wireless keyboard and trackpad that fits into a pocket
- My post on Jetson Nano USB Login shows how to establish a headless connection without WiFi
- Getting Started with the NVIDIA Jetson Nano Developer Kit - has some tips on getting remote desktop working
- Jetson Nano + Intel Wifi and Bluetooth - covers the more advanced topic of using a WiFi + Bluetooth card hooked up to antennas
About the Author
Mitch Allen works for a robotics company in New England.