NOTE: this page is for archival only, see the note at the end of the page.

Go back –> Atheros Linux wireless drivers

ath5k is a completely FOSS wireless driver for Atheros based wireless chipset versions AR5xxx in the Linux Kernel. It has evolved out of madwifi, Reyk Floeter's "OpenHAL" in OpenBSD and the open-sourced HAL code of Atheros and Sam Leffler.


2010-12-03: AHB Bus support: Support for the AHB bus got merged. Now ath5k can be used on AR231X and AR5312 embedded devices (WiSoC). (commit)

2010-11-30: Preparations for Turbo Mode: Big internal update of PHY code to clean up turbo modes and reset. Turbo is not enabled yet, and it's unlikely that there will be a standard API for enabling it in the near future. (first commit)

2010-10-05: Support for virtual STA and AP added: Support for up to 4 virtual APs and as many virtual STA interfaces as desired got added (commit). This feature is sometimes also called "Multi ESSID" and allows us to configure several AP and STA interfaces on top of only one physical device.

2010-09-28: 802.11e/WME/QoS support: Support for QoS/WME, using multiple hardware queues, got merged. (commit)

2010-09-16: Hardware Encryption: Hardware encryption is enabled again, by sharing code with ath9k. Before that HW encryption was disabled in AP mode due to bugs in the ath5k key handling. (commit)

2010-08-13: Disable ASPM L0s for all cards: This fixes problems with PCI-E cards, especially on Acer Aspire One. (commit)

2010-04-07: ANI: Adaptive Noise Immunity (ANI) got implemented. This greatly improves performance in noisy environments. (commit)

Getting ath5k

ath5k is available through different places:

Enabling ath5k

To enable ath5k in the kernel configuration, you must first enable mac80211:

Networking support --->
  Wireless  --->
    <M>   cfg80211 - wireless configuration API
    <M>   Generic IEEE 802.11 Networking Stack (mac80211)

Please note that in older kernels there was another 802.11 networking stack:

    < > Generic IEEE 802.11 Networking Stack

You do not need this. This option enables the old SoftMAC which is already removed from newer kernels. You can still safely enable this though.

You can then enable ath5k in the kernel configuration under

Device Drivers  --->
  [*] Network device support  --->
        Wireless LAN  --->
          <M>   Atheros Wireless Cards  ---> 
            <M>   Atheros 5xxx wireless cards support

To try the driver you can do something like this:

modprobe ath5k
sudo ip link set wlan%d up
sudo iwconfig wlan%d essid any
# Make sure you get auth'd and then assoc'd
# Then either set an IP manually or get it via DHCP
ping gw

Supported Devices

See the ath5k device list. This list is still very much incomplete - please add your device/card if it works! A longer but less reliable list can be found at It's worth trying your card with ath5k even though it is not in the list above, if it has one of the following chips:

Supported Chips

AR5210   - 802.11a   (Crete/fez)
AR5211   - 802.11ab  (Oahu) (draft g -OFDM only- supported by hw but not by ath5k)
AR5212   - 802.11abg (Venice)
AR5213   - 802.11abg (Hainan)
AR2413/4 - 802.11bg  (Griffin)
AR2415   - 802.11bg  (Talon) (not tested)
AR5413/4 - 802.11abg (Eagle)
AR5423/4 - 802.11abg (Condor) (PCI-E)
AR2425   - 802.11bg  (Swan) (PCI-E)
AR2417   - 802.11bg  (Nala) (PCI-E)

Supported PCI IDs

Currently supported PCI ID list with respective status report on basic-testing as defined above.

Vendor:device   Type    Name    Basic-testing
168c:0207       AR5210  AR5210  No tx - working on it
168c:0007       <<      <<      No tx - working on it

168c:0011       AR5211  AR5211  Should work
168c:0012       <<      <<      OK

168c:0013       AR5212  AR5212  OK
a727:0013       <<      <<      Should Work
10b7:0013       <<      <<      <<
168c:0014       <<      <<      <<
168c:0015       <<      <<      <<
168c:0016       <<      <<      <<
168c:0017       <<      <<      <<
168c:0018       <<      <<      <<
168c:0019       <<      <<      <<
168c:001a       <<      AR2413  OK
168c:001b       <<      AR5413  OK
168c:001c       <<      AR5424  OK (*)
168c:001d       <<      AR2417  OK

Notes on supported devices

"OK" means that card operates as good as with binary drivers.

"Should work" means that card hasn't been tested (we haven't received any reports) but since chipset is the same with a tested, working card, it should work as well.

(*) 001c is used also for RF2425 parts.


Supports 802.11abg, depending on the chipset. This driver requires no firmware or binary-only HAL!


  • Station Mode

  • Ad-Hoc Mode

  • Mesh Point Mode

  • Access Point Mode (enabled in Linux 2.6.31 and newer and in compat-wireless, can also be enabled by patching an older kernel.)

  • 5/10MHz channels

  • Turbo (*)

not working yet

  • XR (*)

  • SuperA/G (*)

* We don't plan on supporting XR mode nor dynamic 20/40MHz turbo mode supported by hw.

Hacking ath5k

Developers are encouraged to work using the git repository. If you are not familiar with git please check out our Linux wireless git-guide and the description of the development process. Alternatively you can use the Linux wireless compatibility package but please be sure to post patches in unified diff format (diff -u). To learn how to submit patches please read our Submitting patches guideline.

Documentation available

Read this section on Atheros specifications and documentation.

Atheros common module

ath5k uses the common shared ath.ko module.

ath5k kerneldoc

We have kerneldocs available for ath5k:

Reported bugs on ath5k

This is a collection of bug reports both unresolved and resolved to help users track issues and to find patches for fixes which have not yet been merged.

Please when submitting a bug report always include your card's silicon revision for MAC and PHY chips, just look at your kernel log for a line like this one... or dmesg |grep "ath5.*chip":

ath5k phy0: Atheros AR2413 chip found (MAC: 0x78, PHY: 0x45)

...and put it in your report. lspci information is much less useful than this.

ath5k TODO List

Things ath5k developers are currently working on, and other things to do:

  • Tx power support (setting tx power) (Nick/Felix -works but experiments show that the card transmits only on some standard power levels instead of a power range as expected -still debuging, any ideas are welcome)
  • Power saving (Bob)
  • 5210 support (EEPROM etc) (Nick)
  • EAR (EEPROM Added Registers) support
  • Documentation update/cleanup (Nick - added kerneldoc on all hw related functions and files, spellchecking...)
  • Radar detection/DFS stuff (Nick -still reading...)
  • Update ath_info

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