Stopping the Intel WiFi LED from blinking in Ubuntu

My Dell E4300 has an Intel 5100 wifi card and the led blinks constantly. I still don’t understand how Intel can consider blinking the wifi LED during data transfer to be a sensible default. For most people it blinks non-stop which is both uninformative and irritating.

Fortunately blogger Alex Cabal found a solution for Karmic, and his updated solution also works for Natty/11.04. It describes opening a text editor and pasting a couple of lines, however I’m much lazier so here’s the one-line version:

echo 'options iwlcore led_mode=1' >> /etc/modprobe.d/wlan.conf

Of course, the command above must be run as root (sudo -i), for some reason sudo gave me access denied. You also need to reboot… or you could just unload and reload the module:

modprobe -r iwlagn && modprobe iwlagn

The double ampersand just executes the next command if the previous one succeeded (exit status 0).


As of Ubuntu 11.10 (kernel 3.0.0) the option has to be applied to the iwlagn module, options for iwlcore are ignored. Thus the full solution now becomes:

sudo -i
echo 'options iwlagn led_mode=1' >> /etc/modprobe.d/wlan.conf
modprobe -r iwlagn && modprobe iwlagn

16 thoughts on “Stopping the Intel WiFi LED from blinking in Ubuntu

  1. pong

    Thank you for sharing this!
    It always worked for me in natty and stopped doing so with oneiric so I gave it a new search. Your updated version won’t do the trick though – any suggestions or news on that one?


    1. Alex Post author

      Strange, works fine for me! /etc/modprobe.d/wlan.conf (or whatever you want to call it) should read:

      options iwlagn led_mode=1

      Also make sure you wifi card actually does use the iwlagn module with:

      lsmod | grep iwlagn.

      Only other difference I can see is that I renamed the file to iwlagn.conf (to match the module), could try that but it’s a long shot. I also have 11n_disable=1 to force wireless G (current kernel has a bug which drops connections frequently on N connections):

      root@al4:~# cat /etc/modprobe.d/iwlagn.conf
      #1 means do not blink
      options iwlagn led_mode=1 11n_disable=1

      As a test you can do it manually:

      rmmod iwlagn
      modprobe iwlagn led_mode=1

      First line removes the Intel wifi module and will disconnect you from the net, second line reloads the module with the option set. If that doesn’t work then you must have a different kernel to me, or be using a different wifi module.

      1. pong

        ty for getting back to me so fast!

        hmmm, ok, seems like my card does not use iwlagn but iwl3945 which doesn’t support the led option.

        since this already worked for me in natty using the iwlcore module option there must be a solution to this out there – gone googlin …

        1. pong

          easy one – partially
          had to use iwl_legacy instead of iwl3945 or iwlagn
          only concern now that my led has become solid off. still much better than before. will try other values than 1 though

          thanks again for hinting me the right way!

  2. pong

    after some testing my led is exactly inverted contradicting parameter’s documentation: solid off when wifi’s on and vice versa – this negative indication even better for stealth mode computing or less flare. any1 w/ a solution for switching this, though?
    for future reference: Thinkpad X61s with Intel 3945 WiFi running Oneiric on kernel 3.0.0-12-generic

  3. cschanzle

    The reason sudo failed is because the redirection is still running in your user shell; only “echo” is running as root:

    sudo echo foo >> /root/deleteme

    instead, encapsulate the whole command to run under another shell:

    sudo sh -c ‘echo foo >> /root/deleteme’

  4. Pingback: Intel wifi led blinking AGAIN on Ubuntu 12.04 | Al4

  5. Joey

    I’m running 12.04 and I followed the instructions and it solved my indicator’s problem. I’m gratefull.

  6. Pingback: Ubuntu 12.04 – WLAN-LED blinkt | Chrises Blog - … ein Blog mit Schwerpunkt IT

  7. Richard

    Hi, I’m running 12.10. After following the instructions wireless indicator stopped blinking. But when I reboot the problem appears again. Any ideas how to solve it? Thx.

    1. Alex Post author

      Strange, it should persist through a reboot. Check that the file you created in /etc/modprobe.d is still present.

    1. Alex Post author

      Basically yes. It persists between reboots and pretty much anything unless Intel change the kernel module options, or Ubuntu decides to use a different module altogether.


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