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How to convert Cisco LAP to Autonomous AP

Ever needed to convert a Cisco LAP to Autonomous AP? I did, and this is how I did it;

(if you don’t want to read it all, see the short version here)

  1. Boot up the LAP (in my case, a 1142 running 12.4(21a)JA, c1140-rcvk9w8-mx). CLI via console is not available before the AP receives an IP-address via DHCP, so make sure it does. However, you don’t want it to receive and IP-address on a segment where a WLAN-controller (WLC, WiSM/WiSM2) is available, as you don’t want it to join that. In my case, I just did it at home, where I had no WLC.
  2. Once it gets an IP-address, you can login via the console.
    Password: Cisco

    The default password is ‘Cisco’ (without the quotes).

  3. The logical thing now would just be to copy the new non-LAP IOS software, right?
    AP1234.5678.abcd#copy ?
    % Unrecognized command

    Well, no, not that easy. A lot of the features in the CLI on an AP running LAP IOS software has been removed/disabled, such as the ‘copy’-command.

    On some versions of IOS, the new software has to be copied from configuration mode, so let’s try that;

    AP1234.5678.abcd#conf t 
    % Invalid input detected at '^' marker.

    No, that’s been disabled as well. Let’s try to work around these, by enabling a lot more commands. Try one of the following, depending on what version of IOS the AP is running;

    AP1234.5678.abcd#debug lwapp console cli
    LWAPP console CLI allow/disallow debugging is on
    AP1234.5678.abcd#debug capwap console cli
    CAPWAP console CLI allow/disallow debugging is on

    (In my case, with the 1142, the latter was the one that works)

    This command makes us able to use the ‘copy’-command, and to enter configuration mode.

    Depending on what version of IOS the AP is running, you might want to do the following to make the AP able to accept the non-LAP IOS software later on;

    AP1234.5678.abcd#debug lwapp client no-reload 
    LWAPP ignore internal reload debugging is on
    AP1234.5678.abcd#debug capwap client no-reload 
    CAPWAP ignore internal reload debugging is on
  4. Download new non-LAP IOS software is done in one of two ways, again depending on what version of IOS the AP is running. Either this;
    AP1234.5678.abcd#conf t
    Enter configuration commands, one per line.  End with CNTL/Z.
    AP1234.5678.abcd#archive download-sw /overwrite /reload tftp://

    or this;

    AP1234.5678.abcd#archive tar /xtract tftp:// flash: 
    <long list of files extracted>

    (In my case, with the 1142, the latter was the one that works)

  5. Delete old IOS, and reload AP.
    AP1234.5678.abcd#sh flash
    Directory of flash:/
        2  -rwx           0   Mar 1 2002 00:12:58 +00:00  config.txt
        3  -rwx          76   Mar 1 2002 00:12:39 +00:00  private-multiple-fs
        4  -rwx         178   Mar 1 2002 00:12:39 +00:00  env_vars
        5  drwx         384   Mar 1 2002 00:44:17 +00:00  c1140-k9w7-mx.124-25d.JA1
        7  drwx         128   Mar 1 2002 00:11:21 +00:00  c1140-rcvk9w8-mx
    32385024 bytes total (24365568 bytes free)
    AP1234.5678.abcd#delete /force /recursive flash:c1140-rcvk9w8-mx
    System configuration has been modified. Save? [yes/no]: no
    Proceed with reload? [confirm]
  6. Done. You’re now running an AP with non-LAP IOS software.
    ap#sh boot | i BOOT
    BOOT path-list:      flash:c1140-k9w7-tar.124-25d.JA1.tar
    ap#sh ver | i RELEASE
    Cisco IOS Software, C1140 Software (C1140-K9W7-M), Version 12.4(25d)JA1, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
    BOOTLDR: C1140 Boot Loader (C1140-BOOT-M) Version 12.4(23c)JA3, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)

The summary
The following should work in most cases, at least on newer APs;

debug capwap console cli
debug capwap client no-reload
archive tar /xtract tftp:// flash:
delete /force /recursive flash:c1140-rcvk9w8-mx


  1. raul hernan raul hernan

    hola, me podrian ayudar con lo siguiente:
    nesecito el IOS de AIR-AP1042N
    saben desde donde lo puedo descargar ?

    gracias por la ayuda.
    Raul Huauya

    • jocke jocke

      Firstly, I don’t speak Spanish. Secondly, I won’t help you obtain licensed software.

  2. Santosh Mayekar Santosh Mayekar

    Thanks for your post….this helped me a lot to convert my 1142 in Autonomous mode.

  3. Flip Flip

    Is there a way to obtain the non LAP IOS legally from Cisco without a Cisco Account? I have two 1142 I am trying to get running as Autonomous AP’s.

    • jocke jocke

      No, there’s no way to do it legally. Google might give you a few options, though.

  4. javis javis

    If I make my Cisco AP autonomous, would I be able to use it on my DDWRT system??

    • jocke jocke

      Yes, but only when used together with a flux capacitor.

      • javis javis

        I guess I better go find Doc and Marty….

      • jocke jocke


        In all seriousness, though, what exactly did you mean with that question? “Use it _on_ my DDWRT system”? I mean; what?

  5. sharky sharky

    Thank you for your post, I convert my 1130ag to autonomus mode))))

  6. doug doug

    Thanks for this very helpful info. It worked great and the only thing I did differently was after tftp loading the autonomous image I just issued the command:

    capwap ap autonomous

    and it then reloaded into autonomous mode.

  7. Am aflat aceasta pagina, dupa ce am cautat despre How
    to convert Cisco LAP to Autonomous AP Networking jocke pe Google.
    Se pare ca informatia dvs e foarte valoroasa, mai ales ca am mai gasit aici si despre convert,
    ora exacta, lucruri interesante si folositoare. Mult succes in continuare!

  8. Greg Greg

    thanks heaps for this, helped heaps!!!!
    i found i had setup a DHCP server for the AP in LWAPP mode to get an IP from. if i configured a static it would restart before it had extracted the tar to drop the binary on flash:
    i also had to delete several old LW binaries off the AP before i could get it to boot to the autonomous image.
    solarwinds make a great free TFTP server too

  9. ?yvind ?yvind

    Hi jocke!

    I had to use these commands in order to get connectivity between the AP (1142N) and Macbook Pro w/Thunderbolt Ethernet:

    capwap ap ip address
    capwap ap ip default-gateway

    (Running c1140-k9w8-mx.152-4.JB6)

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