I have a use case where I need to dynamically configure some files which includes the name of the interfaces present in system say eth0 , wlan0 . However when I change the system sometimes its changed to eth1 or wlan1 . From Ubuntu 14.04 the Ethernet interfaces are named as p2p1 , p1p1 like this and wireless interfaces as wlan0 or wlan1.

So we can say the interfaces name can be anything, doesn't matter as long as we can find what names are given to what kind of interface .

I wrote a small script for that but I don't know if there could be a better way to find this which works across all the Linux based system .


# check if directory exist 
if [ -d "$DIRECTORY" ]; then

    ilist=`ifconfig -s  | awk '{print $1}' | tail -n +2`

    # array length
    ilist_len=`echo "${ilist[@]}" | wc -l`

    # empty array 

    # Iterating over interfaces 
    for i in $(seq 1 $ilist_len)
        iname=`echo $ilist | sed -n "$i"p`
        echo $iname
        if [ "$iname" != "lo" ]; then
            cd $cur_dir
            if [ -d "$cur_dir/wireless" ]; then
        cd ~
    exit 0
    echo "Can't find the directories ! Something went wrong "
    exit 0

In the above script I decided the interfaces type based on the presence or absence of directory /sys/class/net/<INTERFACE>/wireless. The script assumes that only 1-1 interface is present for Ethernet and wireless.

I doubt that the wireless directory is always present in all of the wireless interfaces . For example in case of virtual wireless interfaces.


Today, for a relatively modern Linux distro I would initially try to use the ip command

ip link show

and then filter it's output to get a list of interfaces.

You can also use ifconfig -a but newer releases of some distros are nolonger installing this by default.

Similarly netstat -i may be useful.

You can use the iwconfig command to determine if an interface is wireless or not

iwconfig ens160
ens160    no wireless extensions.
  • How would ip link show would work . It ofcourse gives the names of interfaces but none of ip or ifconfig -a or netstat -i would give the information using which I can detect which is the ethernet interface and which is wireless – Ankit Kulkarni Jan 14 '16 at 7:19
  • In short given three interfaces names how can i know which is the lan interface and which is wireless interface – Ankit Kulkarni Jan 14 '16 at 7:21
  • read my answer again, it looks like I updated it while you were writing your comment. – user9517 supports GoFundMonica Jan 14 '16 at 7:22
  • Super. That would work . All I need to do is instead checking the directory in my script would check using iwconfig command – Ankit Kulkarni Jan 14 '16 at 7:29
  • Like ifconfig, netstat might also not be installed. And netstat -i output might be truncated, so you can't really use it reliably anyway. Try ip -s link instead. – Michael Hampton Jan 14 '16 at 14:58

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