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

Go back –> Atheros Linux wireless drivers


ath9k is a completely FOSS wireless driver for all Atheros IEEE 802.11n PCI/PCI-Express and AHB WLAN based chipsets.

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Mailing list

Our mailing list for this driver is:

Get the latest ath9k driver

Any distribution shipping a kernel >= 2.6.27 will have ath9k present but the ath9k driver on 2.6.32 is the oldest one recommended, anything older than that is completely unsupported. Below is a list of the minimal distribution requirements to either use ath9k from 2.6.27 or from compat-wireless, which lets you install newer drivers on older kernels.

If you want to get the latest ath9k driver you can get it by using the wireless-testing git tree. Read our git-guide for that. Alternatively you can download and compile ath9k and its dependencies alone by using compat-wireless. After downloading you can run:

./scripts/driver-select ath9k
sudo make install

Enabling ath9k

To enable ath9k, you must first enable mac80211:

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

You can then enable ath9k in the kernel configuration under

Device Drivers  --->
  [*] Network device support  --->
        Wireless LAN  --->
          <M>   Atheros 802.11n wireless cards support

QUESTION: Do the above boxes refer to a GUI, or..? What does "Networking —> Wireless —>" mean? I'm not sure where to look. If it's a GUI, what window manager does it refer to?? Is there a command line version?

ANSWER: The above boxes refer to a ncurses user interface. You can get to these menus by typing "make menuconfig" in the Linux kernel source directory.

Bluetooth coexistence

ath9k supports 2-wire and 3-wire Bluetooth coexistence, for details see the ath9k btcoex page.

supported chipsets

SB = single-band 2.4GHz DB = dual-band 2.4GHz or 5GHz


  • AR2427 (>=, no 802.11n hardware support, its bonded out) 1x1 SB PCIe


  • AR5418+AR5133 (>= 2.6.27) AR5418 = DB 11n PCIe, AR5133 = 3x3 DB 11n

  • AR5416+AR5133 (>= 2.6.27) AR5416 = DB 11n PCI

  • AR5416+AR2133 (>= 2.6.27) AR2133 = 3x3 SB 11n


  • AR9160 (>= 2.6.27) DB 11n

  • AR9102 (>= 2.6.30, AHB) 2x2 SB 11n

  • AR9103 (>= 2.6.30, AHB) 3x3 SB 11n


  • AR9220 (>= 2.6.27, an AR9280 card over PCI) 2x2 DB 11n PCI

  • AR9280 (>= 2.6.27) 2x2 DB 11n PCIe

  • AR9281 (>= 2.6.27) 2x2 SB 11n PCIe

  • AR9285 (>= 2.6.29) 1x1 SB 11n PCIe

  • AR9287 (>= 2.6.32) 2x2 SB 11n PCIe


  • AR9380 (>= 2.6.36) 3x3 DB 11n PCIe

  • AR9382 (>= 2.6.36) 2x2 DB 11n PCIe


  • AR9485 (>= 2.6.39) 1x1 SB 11n PCIe

Available devices

See the ath9k device list.

Features and modes of operation

All of these modes of operation are supported and should work on all ath9k cards.

Modes of operation

  • Station Mode

  • AP Mode

  • IBSS Mode

  • Monitor Mode

  • Mesh point with HT support, as well as RSN

  • WDS (as of >= 2.6.37)


  • 802.11abg
  • 802.11n
    • HT20
    • HT40
    • AMPDU
    • Short GI (40 MHz only)
  • 802.11i
    • WEP 64 / 127
    • WPA1 / WPA2
  • 802.11d
  • 802.11h
  • 802.11w/D7.0
  • WPS client side (use wpa_gui-qt4 from wpa_supplicant for now)
  • WMM
  • LED
  • BT co-existence
  • 64-bit support / big endian, small endian
  • AHB and PCI bus
  • TDLS

A little history on ath9k

When it went in

ath9k was announced to have been merged into Linux-2.6.27-rc3 by Linus on Tue, 12 Aug 2008 19:33:16 -0700 (PDT), and consisted of 58.8% of the entire rc3 patch.

Early distributions which picked it up

OpenWrt became the first distribution to pick up ath9k and contribute to it.

Statistics on contributions

Below are stats on contributions between Qualcomm Atheros and the community on ath9k.

Other sections

For more information please see:

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