1. Home
  2. Linux
We are reader supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Best USB WiFi Adapters for Linux (Review) in 2021

It is hard to find a Linux-compatible USB WiFi adapter these days, as mainstream manufacturers like Netgear, Belkin, and others do not take the platform seriously. As a result, many Linux users do not know what to buy.

Since finding a compatible Linux WiFi adapter is so tricky we researched more than 20 models on the market — read more about our in-depth analysis and see which is the best product.

Here’s our list of the best Linux compatible USB WiFi adapters.

#1-  BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter

Max Speed: 867Mbps (5GHz )/ 300Mbps (2.4GHz) | Antenna: Dual (2 x 5dBi)

  • Dual antennas, long cable.
  • The antenna rotates 360 degrees.
  • Best price for an antenna/cord device
  • Excellent range.

BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter

Are you looking for a fast WiFi USB adapter with a long connection range? Check out the BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter. It offers some excellent connectivity speeds (at about 300 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 867 Mbps on 5GHz), with two long antennas that ensure you’ll stay connected no matter where you are in the house.

Like many other adapters on this list, the BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter has incredible Linux compatibility, supporting distributions like Debian, Ubuntu, and Raspbian, Fedora, and many others.

In our testing with the BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter, we found that it worked well out of the box as expected and maintained stable network connectivity on both wireless bands. However, as the device is a “USB 3.0” one, you may lose speed running in a 2.0 port.

Notable features

  • So long as the user is running Linux kernel 5.3 or lower, BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter has support for the Kali Linux security testing distribution.
  • The BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter has dual antennas and is connected to a long USB cord, which makes it very easy to connect to far away routers.
  • The antenna can rotate 360 degrees for maximum connectivity.

Cost

BrosTrend 1200Mbps is the single-best antenna/cord based USB adapter for Linux. Best of all, it is affordably priced so that anyone can get their hands on it!

#2 – Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 Dual Band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wireless N USB Adapter

Max Speed: 300Mbps (2.4GHz and 5GHz) | Antenna: Dual (2 x 5dBi)

  • Supports Kali Linux
  • Dual band : 2.4GHz and 5GHz
  • 802.11 ac/b/g/n networks.

Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter

Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 is a dual-band USB wireless adapter for Windows, and Linux, supporting Linux distributions like Linux Mint, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, CentOS, and Kali Linux. The Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 also has support for Raspberry Pi and confirms their device works on Rasbian.

While the hardware specs of the device are impressive, it’s not what is making Linux fans excited. Instead, the real draw is the fact that the Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 plays well with security penetration testing distributions like Kali Linux, and the device can enter “monitoring mode” for network vulnerability testing.

In our testing of the device, we found that the Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 worked very well on most Linux operating systems, as well as most Raspberry Pi Linux distributions. However, on Linux operating systems like Debian Linux will not recognize it without adding the “non-free” software source.

Notable features

  • The Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 supports Kali Linux and can go into monitoring mode, a mode critical to security and penetration testing.
  • The Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 is dual-band and can connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks.
  • Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 is very fast, and the 5GHz band can transfer data at up to 876 Mbps.
  • The device has dual antennas, which makes connectivity with far away routers much more accessible.

Cost

As far as USB WiFi adapters go, the Panda Wireless PAU09 N600 is priced just above what many would consider “affordable.”  With that in mind, it’s well worth it if what you want is an excellent WiFi adapter that can also double as a network security testing device in Kali Linux.

#3 – Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter

Max Speed: 300Mbps (2.4GHz)

  • Zero setup or drivers required
  • Works with most Linux systems
  • Excellent price
  • No 5GHz band

Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter for Linux

The Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter is a small networking dongle that supports connecting to any 2.4 GHz (G or N) wireless network. The device supports a maximum transfer rate of 300 Mbps and is compatible with most Linux operating systems, including those on the Raspberry Pi, like Raspbian.

In our experience with the Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter, we found that it was compatible with most Linux operating systems, with zero setup or drivers required. Though, it may not work on operating systems like Debian without enabling the “non-free” software source.

Notable features

  • The Panda 300 Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter will work with any 2.4GHz wireless router.
  • The Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter supports infrastructure and Ad-hoc mode, which is perfect for sharing network connectivity and local files to other computers.
  • The Panda 300Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Linux operating systems.

Cost

For its capabilities, the Panda 300 Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter is a steal. So, if you’re in desperate need of a proper adapter 2.4GHz network adapter that is compatible with Linux, don’t miss out!

#4 – TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter

Max Speed: 150Mbps (2.4GHz)

  • Strong WiFi coverage
  • Mini design (nano size)
  • No 5GHz band.

TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter for Linux
The TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter is a low-profile, Nano network dongle. It allows for connectivity up to 150 Mbps and supports the 2.4 GHz network band.

TP-Link has an excellent track record of supporting the Linux platform with it’s networking equipment, including WiFi adapters. The TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter is no different. It is compatible with any mainstream Linux operating system running Linux kernel 2.6 or above, including Linux distributions run on hobby boards like Raspberry Pi or Odroid.

From testing with the TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter, we found that network transfer rates were consistent with 150 Mbps. TP-Link advertises that this device only works on older kernels, however, it can be made to work on quite a few new distributions. To get it working, the user must install a third-party software driver. This software driver is lwfinger, and supports the rtl8188eu chipset. To get your hands on the driver, click here.

Notable features

  • It’s very slim, “nano” form factor means it fits very well in any laptop USB port.
  • The TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter touts first-class support for Raspbian, the default operating system for the Raspberry Pi line of microcomputers.
  • Supports the 2.4 GHz network band and can transfer data at a maximum rate of 150 Mbps.

Cost

As the TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter is tiny, and can only make connections of up to 150 Mpbs, it is an incredibly inexpensive device. Suffice it to say, if you need a wireless adapter that works well with Linux or the Raspberry Pi and doesn’t cost a lot of money, get the TP-Link USB Wifi N150 Adapter.

Conclusion

In this list, we went over the four best Linux-compatible USB WiFi adapters. That said, there are many other excellent Linux-compatible WiFi adapters out there that we did not talk about. What USB adapter do you use on your Linux PC? Let us know in the comment section down below!

22 Comments

  1. I’ve tried Linux many times before and always been put off by the fact that nothing seems to be straightforward. These days internet access is essential yet, I’ve never found a satisfactory way to make my wifi work with any of the distros I’ve tried. After reading this article and the replies, I am convinced that Linux is not yet ready for the common man or woman to drop MS/Apple for this platform.
    What I want is to come to my computer get the days work done and go home, I have no interest in sorting through the junk systems MS foists upon us at ransomeware costs and no real incentive to learn in depth all about a new platform.
    I Can’t afford Apple stuff and with all the data theft that is going on now it seems to me that owning a computer is no longer worth the time and trouble, let alone the price.
    It’s a real shame that with all the great people who are doing their best to put systems in place to provide a trustworthy stable and effective answer, that we still don’t have one that is simple and straightforward to use and I for one am thouroughly dissapointed.

    If the people came together to produce a single great replacement for Windows instead of developing hundreds of different distros I’m certain they would have a product people would readily buy.

    And I still don’t know if any of this advice is good enough to get me a simple cheap wifi dongle that will work on whatever Linux distro I choose to try.

  2. This could have been a very interesting and valuable article – could have because the most important information is missing on nearly every adapter:
    The chipset used with it!

    Even Raltek chipsets are most problematic to use with linux most of them will not work properly without dkms-voodoo, self-compiled drivers you’ll have to STFW for days and even more days spending to find the right module parameters to set regarding to power management settings.

    The rtl8812ae e.g. is totally unusable with linux – also it is more than five years old there are still no working drivers for 5GHz band available which do work relieable.

  3. I’m trying to do the right thing by switching my computer from Windows over to a Linux operating system. I’m finding it very difficult to circumvent Microsoft/ China. Most options in American stores are Linksys which is only MAC or Windows compatible. All of the Linux compatible WIFI adapters are being made in China. Bros Trend, TP-Link, Panda, and Cudy. ASUS seems to be made in Taiwan. Are the ASUS wifi adapters compatible w/ Linux Mint. There’s really no escaping Big Tech.

  4. The tplink driver does not compile against a 5.x kernel, which I need for a newer hp laptop. Even with a 4.x kernel it compiles and I see the network device from the command line but one can’t seem to configure it. Gui says no network interfaces.
    Built in wifi doesn’t come back after suspend 🙁

    • BrosTrend linux wifi adapter has just released its latest driver for Kernel 5.11 since days ago, i can use it on my Ubuntu 21.04 now, cheers!

  5. I think almost every WiFi adapter for Windows will work on Linux. But when we talk about Monitor Mode and Packet Injection we need some special kind of WiFi adapters. Check them and know what is monitor mode and packet injection by clicking on above link (best wifi adapter for Kali Linux)

  6. Why not just list whether the driver these devices use are present in the Linux kernel and, if so, which versions?
    And then if not, state that you, the user, need to build the damn thing yourself because the manufacturer is so damn lazy to get their chipset adopted.

    I won’t waste time on devices that say “supported on Linux” when they largely aren’t on versions that I use, never mind the fact that many don’t even bother quoting chipset, so people can look up support. Oh, and RealTek chipsets are generally crap

  7. this is the manufacturer’s specs for
    BrosTrend 1200Mbps Linux USB WiFi Adapter :

    https://www.trendtechcn.com/Product.aspx?ProductId=325&TypeId=1

    I can’t find any Linux distro.
    They don’t have it for a reason: the rtl8812au is not included in standard kernels. To use it, compiling the kernel module from source is necessary.
    Advanced users only.
    Also users with lots of time. Each time an update brings a new kernel, you compile again, fix errors, browse internet for solutions.
    This is not ‘Linux support’

    • The BrosTrend AC1200 USB adapter which uses the RTL8812au driver does not work with the RTL8812au driver which I got working on Mint 20 with the TP-Link Archer T9UH(EU). This is completely insane!
      The install.sh script which came with the BrosTrend (incidentally the same Linux software that comes with the FokTech AC600 USB adapter) fails in Mint 20 with Kernel 5.4.0-58-generic. So plug-n-play it is not!!

  8. Linux connectivity is a joke. When you open the drivers disc and look under “Linux” it directs you to the TP-Link website where you download a driver file with instructions to open terminal and open the “correct” version of another file with which to “compile” (whatever that may mean) the driver file………….!! Seems like you need to be a software engineer to install it. At that point it went in the bin.

    • Hi John, you didn’t manage to do it? Or you just decided to put it in the bin “because …”?

    • You just threw into the trash the best one on the market. If you don’t know how to add a simple driver in Linux, the stick with windows. Why are you even bothering with Linux since you can’t do something as simple as installing a driver?

  9. It’s 2020 and I cannot believe that manufacturers have not taken the Linux community seriously. Perhaps the Linux community itself needs to push harder in the driver development space? Whichever, the dearth of plug and play devices on Linux is still a major drawback for Linux adoption as a friendly replacement to Windows. Even when drivers are available, in many cases, one has to tinker with github sources and “make” commands on the CLI, a far cry from the point and click of the .exe or msi package on Windows.
    It’s a shame as Linux can be had free, whilst Windows comes with a price tag.

    • Hi Jerry, you’re right. That’s why we’re trying to help people find what’s best for Linux.

    • @john cregan, true words I see many facebook posts were they make fun of Windows comparing the Linux. But they forget that windows works out of the box which is not the case with linux. If the hardware is still not compatible to linux it’s very hard to change people’s mind to use linux. In fact this gives a feeling that still linux has to go a long way to go to be use as daily OS. Another perspective from layman’s point of view is even though Windows charge money but we get everything working. This pushes common people away from linux thinking it is to be used only by developers. Recent issues of Wireless driver/card(Especially Realtek) has troubled many people. It gets frustrating to such an extent that people are tired of try solutions on the internet and are about to break it. There are many such questions lying on Ask Ubuntu, Ubuntu Forums, Fedora Forums, Mint Forums etc. Don’t know when this issue will get resolved. Hoping for Best

    • I found only BrosTrend and Panda are providing real Linux support for Linux wifi adapter currently….most of other brands such as TP-LINK, Alfa..are NOT taking sevious for Linux users, shame…

  10. The TP-Link USB Wifi N150 is a great little adapter with one issue. The one I have has a death grip meaning if you plug it in without leaving a fingernail of space between it and your computer it is almost impossible to remove!

    • Haha, perhaps keeping one of those plastic fuse pullers next to the computer would do the trick!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.