So I have a linux box with two wireless interfaces, one is a station and the other an AP.

wlan0 (station) - Connected to the internet connection

wlan1 (AP) - Other clients connect to it.

I would like for clients connected to wlan1 to be able to access the internet on wlan0. And I'd like to do this with iptables as my kernel doesn't have bridging support...

Here's what I've tried so far with iptables but it's not working:

iptables -A FORWARD -i wlan0 -o wlan1 -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -i wlan1 -o wlan0 -j ACCEPT

I'd appreciate any help.

  • 2
    IPTABLES is a stateful packet-filter, it permits/drops/mangles packets. It is not a router, or bridge. Your commands adjust the firewall to permit the traffic, but they do not do anything to actually forward it.
    – Zoredache
    Sep 25, 2012 at 1:19
  • So replace the kernel with one that has the features you need. It is "a linux box," after all. Sep 25, 2012 at 1:21
  • Can I achieve what I'm trying to do with 'route'? I'll look into rebuilding the kernel with bridge support as well but wondering if there are other options.
    – broody
    Sep 25, 2012 at 1:39
  • 1
    Route tells it where to go once it's enabled. Michael told you what you need to do to support routing. THEN you need to turn it on via sysctl.
    – Magellan
    Sep 25, 2012 at 2:04

1 Answer 1


First, to enable hosts connecting on your private interface to go out to the internet, you don't need bridging the interfaces, you need to route packets coming in on one interface, to the other one, where they go out to the wild.

To do that, you only need to:

  1. Enable forwarding on your linux box:
  2. Allow specific (or all of it) packets to traverse your router
  3. As someone stated, as netfilter is a stateless firewall, allow traffic for already established connections
  4. Change the source address on packets going out to the internet

    echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
    iptables -A FORWARD -i wlan1 -o wlan0 -j ACCEPT
    iptables -A FORWARD -i wlan0 -o wlan1 -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED \
             -j ACCEPT
    iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o wlan0 -j MASQUERADE

That should do it.

  • I think you'd also have to set the clients to use the linux box as their gateway.
    – Jason Tan
    Sep 25, 2012 at 4:06
  • 4
    And to make the forwarding persist through reboots you want to do this: 'echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf'
    – Jason Tan
    Sep 25, 2012 at 4:08
  • I guessed that was out of the question, if the clients where connected via wifi to this so called router.
    – Torian
    Sep 25, 2012 at 4:08
  • Do you need to set those iptables rules if ip_forwarding is turned on in the kernel? Jun 28, 2018 at 3:53
  • 1
    @StudentsTea Yes, you do, unless your iptables' FORWARD table is set to a globally accepting policy. You'd still need the nat table rules either way though. Jul 6, 2018 at 18:42

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