Kismet on Windows How-To guide V0.3

This guide is to help people install and configure Kismet on Windows Under Cygwin. It's long been known how to be done, but there is almost nothing for a decent guide. The advantages are that you do not need to boot into Linux to use Kismet (especially useful for system monitoring stations) and the ability to use the best-of-both-worlds by being able to run Netstumbler (with a separate source) at the same time (very useful for site surveys and installation testing.

This page is no longer being maintained in anticipation of Kismet-Newcore, however Cacetech, the makers of the Airpcap Wireless capture device for windows have an updated and very nice package of Kismet for windows. It works with drones, as well as thier own adapter. It's is very easy to install/use (Note: RenderMan was involved on beta testing and is not a part of the company). It's BSD license too, so it's all good.

Cacetech Downloads

This guide requires Windows 2000/XP, a Modified Linksys WRT54G, basic networking and Linux knowledge, as well as some experience with Kismet. This guide was tested with the Cygwin v1.5.18-1 release from July 2nd 2005 and Kismet release 2005-06-R1. Using other versions, your mileage may vary. Please send changes or bug reports for other versions.

You cannot run Kismet on Windows without Cygwin
You cannot run Kismet on Windows with *ANY* wireless card, only Kismet Drones work (Cacetech Airpcap excepted, instructions coming soon)
Cygwin will not suddenly allow you to run all Linux software. It's capabilities are limited
In order to get GPSD running your need to follow these instructions

This guide assumes the following:
Windows 2000/XP is installed and updated
The Linksys WRT54G router is a Kismet_drone, modified according to these instructions
Administrator access to the system to be installed on
A wired network connection

Step One:

1.1 Download Cygwin setup from and start the installer.

1.2 Follow the instructions and install default in the 'All' category (I have neither the time nor the interest to figure out exactly what's needed, though you could probably do without X). Warning: This can end up taking of a couple gig on your drive. Feel free to figure out what isn't needed and let me know.

1.3 Let the installer do it's thing until Cygwin is installed

1.4 Start Cygwin and once you get a prompt type the following to setup cygwin so the compiler can see your local windows users:

mkpasswd -l > /etc/passwd
mkgroup -l > /etc/group

Step Two:

2.1 Download Kismet from into your Cygwin /home/ directory

The latest stable version of Kismet at the time of writing is 2005-08-R1.

2.2 Untar the Kismet source into your home directory. Enter the directory and run:
./configure --disable-pcap
to configure the software without pcap support (not supported in Cygwin)

2.3 Edit 'Makefile', change the 'INSTGRP ?=' to the group your Windows user is in (usually 'Administrators')

Change the 'MANGRP ?=' to the same group (again, usually 'Administrators')

Change the 'INSTUSR ?=' to your local Windows username (in my case, render)

My Makefile looks like this:
INSTGRP ?= "Administrators"
MANGRP ?= "Administrators"
INSTUSR ?= "render"

Kismet will be configured with the nessecary rights for that user. I have no idea what to do if you want to set it up for multiple users. Feel free to let me know.

2.4 Build Kismet by typing 'make dep' to build the dependencies.

If everything went alright there, type 'make' and everything *should* build nicely. If it doesn't, go double check all the steps here so far.

It may throw up alot of warnings, however as long as nothing stops with 'ERROR' we're ok

If everything built nicely they type 'make install' and kismet should put everything where it needs to be. If you had a previous installation or an aborted install, you might need to run 'make forceinstall' to force overwriting of previous files. If it complains about not finding group 'wheel' or something about 'root', recheck step 2.3

Step Three:

3.1 Configure Kismet. Edit '/usr/local/etc/kismet.conf' and change the 'servername=' line to whatever you'd like.

Change the 'suiduser=' line to the username of your user. This has some security implications, however we're running in a contained environment and already on an insecure windows box, so it's not a huge deal

Change the 'source=' line to read:
(this is assuming the router is configured to

You may also want to edit any other options at this point in the kismet.conf and kismet_ui.conf files.

Step Four:

4.1 Using the instructions for starting the drone in the WRT54G How-To, fire up the drone on the router. On your cygwin install, change to your home directory then start kismet by typing 'kismet' (logs will be generated in the directory your currently in, so switching to your home directory is advised.

If everything runs fine, you should see kismet start up in the cygwin window and behave as kismet does and you should start seeing networks.

If you get the error:
Source 0 (drone): Opening kismet_drone source interface
FATAL: connect() failed 111 (Connection refused)

Kismet exiting.

Double check that the drone is running and configured correctly, particularly the 'allowed hosts' line in the kismet_drone.conf file.

Step Five:

If you want to use GPS with this setup, just follow this set of instructions on patching and compiling GPSD.


This setup will allow you to us Kismet's ability to detect cloaked networks, while still being able to run windows programs and utilities. I find it particularly useful since I don't have to reboot into Linux to use/show Kismet. Also useful for me to be able to hook into a drone remotely over the internet and check what's up.

It's also particularly useful to have Cygwin anyways for running warkizniz and the CoWF stats generator for log analysis without having to reboot.

Of particular interest is the ability to now run the Kismet client on a windows workstation, and connect to a Kismet server elsewhere on the network. This has great applications for network monitoring and IDS implementations of Kismet drones since you no longer need to have a dedicated Linux system for the monitor and can reap the benefits of kismet for nothing more than the cost of the Router.


Dragorn (Author of Kismet) was kind enough to answer many questions, smoothing out some points and my incessant bug reports.

This post on the Kismet Forums by gr8w11ne is the major guts of this How-To (though a bit harder to read)

This Guide also available at The Church Of Wifi

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