I need to do a few tests on wireless adapter management via group policy. The most convenient way to do this is via a virtual environment hosted on my workstation, and for most scenarios there are no additional hurdles to doing this.

Unfortunately, the host does not have a wifi card and I am having serious issues finding Windows 7+* or VMWare Workstation 14 features that support creating a virtual wireless card, or even just starting up a network connection with no backing hardware.

*If functionality has been introduced in Windows 10 for this, a test in this OS would also be valid.

All I need to do is ensure the group policy configuration is applying the right settings - testing on physical devices comes later, ideally when we have some confidence they will at least be getting the configuration we expect, even if that turns out to not work.

So even showing an adapter that was classed as 'disconnected' would suffice for my purposes, as I would be able to check the adapter properties & ensure the wireless network preferences and security settings defined have applied as expected.

Are there any Windows 7+ commands, third party programs, or alternative hypervisors that are are capable of either:

  • Creating a (disconnected, but present) wireless adapter entry in the network connections list with no further functionality? (i.e. it will always show as disconnected and no data can be sent on it, but you can check that configurations affecting wireless networks have been properly applied to it.)
  • Even better, in terms of potential future utility, creating a 'host-only' 'wireless' network capable of simulating various things like signal strength, multiple imaginary access points and EAP-TLS connection negotiation?

Things I've tried:

  • Manually adding a wireless network card with device manager (The machine detects it has no backing hardware, so it doesn't even show a new wireless connection in the control panel -> network connections adapter list, despite the wifi adapter being an installed (malfunctioning) device driver-wise.)
  • Creating a hosted network with netsh wlan set hostednetwork (Hosted network is created, but when you try to start it, it will detect there is no compatible hardware and refuse to start.)
  • Checking VMWare workstation options (additional virtual cards can be created, but they are always seen as wired networks.)
  • I don't think you're going to be able to accomplish this with a purely virtual solution, but with all the time you've probably spent on this and will continue to do so trying to figure out some kind of workaround, wouldn't it be easier to just purchase a cheap $10 wifi adapter and pass it through to the virtual machine? – n8te Jun 15 at 4:12
  • 1
    That would definitely be my solution if I was at home, or in most private companies for that matter, unfortunately our work environment has some...financial, governance and security constraints around the simple solution. – Bruno Jun 15 at 4:55
  • So if you run from admin elevated command prompt netsh wlan show drivers and get a message stating "There is no wireless interface on the system" then you may be out of luck—at least I was in my testing. You want to create a virtual WLAN without any wireless interfaces on the system to test WLAN GPOs, etc. so I get it—how to emulate without the interface though seems to be the challenge here though. This seems to be a good read: techperiod.com/enable-microsoft-virtual-wifi-miniport-adapter – Pimp Juice IT Jun 25 at 4:31
  • I assume the Device Manager -> View -> Show hidden devices didn't show a Network adapter of Microsoft Hosted Network Virtual Adapter or that enabling Internet Connection Sharing helps but see those and other potential solutions talked about here to eliminate as fixes.: xtremerain.com/fix-hosted-network-couldnt-start – Pimp Juice IT Jun 25 at 4:36
  • Yup, I get the no wireless interface message from the show drivers command, the hosted network adapter does not appear, and on the VM no sharing tab is displayed for the (wired) network connection for some reason. – Bruno Jun 25 at 5:09
up vote 1 down vote accepted
+50

Here is a Virtual NIC driver. It's an open source project so if it doesn't support wireless adapters you might be able to modify the source to create a dummy wifi card:

https://github.com/ntkernelcom/ethernet_bridge

  • It's excellent that there's an open source solution, both to give the option to modify it to fit my needs but also from a transparency perspective. – Bruno Jul 2 at 0:33

If you have an Android smartphone, you might be able to use it as a WiFi dongle.

I quote below one answer from the XDA post of Use phone as wireless adapter?(NOT WIRELESS TETHERING). The post itself dates from 2011, so might be outdated, but I'm not willing to root my phone for testing it.

Okay, so basically what you're going to be doing is using your phone as a USB WiFi dongle. To do this, follow these instructions VERY carefully.

  1. Assuming that you are already rooted (via z4root, Gingerbreak, or some other means), search for "EasyTether Lite" on the Android Market and download it.

  2. Go into Settings>Wireless & Networks

  3. Uncheck the box that says "Mobile Network", "3G", "Mobile Data" or something along those lines.

  4. Check the box that says "WiFi" and connect to the desired network.

  5. Now, download and install the drivers you need for EasyTether to work with your computer here (note that you are going to do this from your computer and not your phone): http://www.mobile-stream.com/easytether/drivers.html

  6. Connect your phone to your computer via USB cable and open the EasyTether app. Enable tethering and with a little bit of magic and fairy dust, you should now have a connection on your computer.

[EDIT] I found this Android application : EasyTether Lite (w/o root). You might try to follow the above instructions without rooting the phone.

  • +1 for creativity, unfortunately I wouldn't be able to use my personal mobile for this and getting a work mobile for it would run into the same problem as the $10 wifi adapter solution. – Bruno Jul 2 at 0:32

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