Setting up Network Manager 0.9 (Gnome edition)

Yesterday, I went through the setup for KDE.  Today, I will do the same for Gnome and other desktops that use the gnome applet (includes XFCE and LXDE).

Perhaps Gnome applet users should start by reading my post on the setup for KDE.  And then, having read it, they can sit back and gloat.  Setup is more straightforward with the gnome applet, and seems to be natural enough that most people would get it right without a guide.  The one annoyance, is that you will be prompted for the root password (as also happens with KDE).

Overview

The main change from earlier versions of NM, are that connection definitions are now stored centrally, in “/etc/NetworkManager/system-connections”.  This is probably why you are now prompted for the root password to make settings changes.  Apart from that annoyance, it is mostly a good thing.  In particular, it means that you can access the same settings with Gnome as you do with KDE.

Defining a connection

Start by right clicking on the network icon in your tray.  Then select Edit Connections.  That should open a window for connection settings.  Click the “Wireless” tab.  Then click “Add”.  Fill in the SSID, give the connection a name (near the top of the window), and then click “Wireless Security” and fill in your security settings (type of security and the key).  That’s it.

There’s a box “Connect automatically” near the top of the screen.  It seems to be preselected for new connections.  You can unselect that if you don’t want that setting.  There’s another box “Available to all users” at the bottom of the screen.  That also seems to be preselected, and the choice seems to be grayed out so that you cannot change it.  This selection is equivalent to what the KDE applet calls a “System connection”, and for most users this will be the sensible choice anyway.

Now click “Save” and you are done.

Hidden Connections

I did not have a problem with hidden SSID, while using the gnome applet.  It seems to just work.  That’s another reason that the gnome applet seems easier to use than the KDE applet.

Opinion

I’m not sure why there is a different applet for KDE.  The Gnome applet seems easier and more natural to use, and seems more reliable.  There are some additional options with the KDE applet (defining a connection as available to only one or several users).  Most users will not find that important.

With previous version, the KDE applet kept connection secrets in kwallet, while the Gnome applet kept them in the gnome keyring.  However, with both KDE and Gnome applets now using the same central store for settings, this distinction has disappeared.  It would make more sense to me, to simply use the Gnome applet in KDE and drop the separate KDE applet.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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