NetworkManager in opensuse 12.2 – a review
NetworkManager worked pretty well in opensuse 11.4, but then they broke it for 12.1. This was mainly a design change from the NetworkManager developers. The effect was that, in 12.1, the root password was required for setting up a system connection, and with a non-system connection the network name was often invisible.
As a result, my advice in 12.1 was to use only system connections. During beta testing, 12.2 seemed to have some of the same problems, and this was confirmed by complaints posted at the opensuse forums.
That all changed a few days ago, when a NetworkManager update came through. So I thought it was time review how well the updated version works. For completeness, Yast software manager shows that I am using NetworkManager 0.9.4.0-5.13.1.
How I tested
In order to give a fair review, I deleted all existing network settings. Then, when NetworkManager was not running (I was booting a different system), I deleted all saved data by Network manager. Then I tried setting up networks from scratch.
Then, with the system running, including NetworkManager, I logged into KDE and tried setting up my home network connection. I took all of the default settings. And it worked very well. I was never asked for the root password. It did wan’t my kde-wallet password, though that too can be avoided.
I next logged out, then logged in as a different user (my test account). I was not connected to any network, but the home network still showed up in the available list. So I clicked on that, took all of the defaults. And again, the network was setup and worked very well.
If I logged out as the test user, and logged back in as my normal self, the network connection was already there. If I logged out, and then logged back in as the test user, I was prompted for the kde-wallet password, and after giving that the connection was quickly made.
So everything seems to be working well now with NetworkManager in KDE.
Testing in Gnome
As an additional check, I deleted all defined connections in both my regular account and my test account. Then I logged into Gnome, and proceeded to try setting up the network there. Again, I took all of the defaults. And, again, everything worked well.
I repeated the Gnome setup in my test account. And again, everything worked well.
It looks as if NetworkManager is again working as it should.
Mixing KDE and Gnome
If you only ever use KDE, then just taking the defaults in setting up a network should be fine. Similarly, if you only ever use Gnome, things should be fine. If there are two users on your computer, with one only ever using KDE and the other only ever using Gnome, again everything should be fine.
If you switch between Gnome and KDE, then watch out. And note here that XFCE and LXDE use the Gnome applet for NetworkManager, so those logging in to one of those should be the equivalent of logging into Gnome as far as NetworkManager is concerned.
My advice: If you use both KDE and Gnome, then setup your networks in Gnome, rather than in KDE. That will work fine. The problems arise only when you setup the network in KDE.
I setup my home network in KDE, taking the defaults. Then I logged into Gnome. Shortly thereafter, I was prompted for the network key. In my case, the network key is around 38 random ASCII characters, so it was not something that I remember. I had to cancel out of the request, then find a file with the key which I could copy to the clipboard. And then I could try connecting and paste in the key. That works fine, but I would have to repeat it for every login to Gnome.
I later repeated the test, after first setting up the network in Gnome. When done that way, a subsequent login to KDE connected automatically without a prompt and without even a prompt for kde-wallet.
What’s the difference? When you setup the network with Gnome, the network key is saved in a location known to NetworkManager. As a result, the key is available even when you login to KDE. However, if you setup the network in KDE, then the key is saved only by KDE, normally in kde-wallet. Thus when you login to Gnome, NetworkManager cannot access the saved network key. It relies on the KDE applet for that, but you are not running the KDE applet when logged into Gnome.
It looks as if NetworkManager is back to behaving well. This is a welcome change from opensuse 12.1. But, if you run both Gnome (or XFCE or LXDE) and KDE, then remember to first setup in Gnome rather than KDE.
Although setting up a connection is now simple enough, I will follow up with a post on the details and choices available during network setup.