Disabling Raspberry Pi 3 WiFi via config.txt

Today, I had to quickly debug a Pi which had a problem – it’d kernel panic right after boot due to the WiFi driver. It was probably a software problem since it would only happen on that specific SD card – on any of the Pi 3 I have. I had to solve it quickly – and all the solutions on the internet involved editing files on the Pi ext4 filesystem. I couldn’t log in the Pi, since, well, kernel panic, and I couldn’t mount the ext4 FS because I didn’t have a Linux machine handy. I did have access to config.txt, though.

I finally found a solution on OSMC forums. The way to disable the interface that Pi uses to communicate with Broadcom WiFi is:

dtoverlay=sdhost

Insert that in config.txt and the WiFi is going to be ignored. It’s not a power-saving solution – I can’t be sure it actually turns the WiFi chipset off, but it does prevent the OS from detecting it.

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