Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bye, Gnome Network Manager Applet!!

I love Gnome, but I must admit its network manager applet is not the best I have seen. It lacks many basic, yet important features. For example, something as simple as refreshing the list of available wireless networks is not available, and I could not even find a manual (read command line tweaking) way to make it work after browsing the web for some time! In addition, it provides very limited information about the connections available, and its interface is not the most friendly ever.

If you are like me and could use a better network manager, say goodbye to Gnome network manager and say HI! to Wicd.

WICD is an opensource network manager that will make your life easier and hopefully get rid of some of your networking frustrations.

For Ubuntu users (versions 9.04 and above), you can get it from the repositories. For previous versions of Ubuntu, check the Wicd DOWNLOAD PAGE.

You can install Wicd using the package manager of your choice, but if you want to install it from the command line, type the following:

sudo apt-get install wicd

Once you install it and set it up, it will look something like this:

Note that the installation will remove the Gnome network applet!!!

Once the installation finishes, you will need to get Wicd configured, which is done via a very simple and intuitive interface. Before you do that, though, you may need to reboot your machine to get Wicd to properly start up.

So there you go, hope you enjoy using Wicd.

EDIT (29/01/2010): If you use Wicd on a USB drive installation and you boot from it on different PCs, as I do, you will need to change the interfaces used by Wicd to connect each time you switch to a different machine.

In other words, when you install Wicd, it will pick up the ethernet and wireless interfaces on that particular machine (e.g. eth1 and wlan1), but if you then run it in a different machine, those interfaces will change. Therefore, in order for it to work on that other machine, you will need to find out what those interfaces are labeled as and adjust the corresponding settings under the "preferences" menu in Wicd.

In order to find out which interfaces you should adjust Wicd to use, open a terminal and run the following command:

ifconfig -a

That will list the current interfaces in your computer, even those which are in disabled status. That command returns quite some information, but we are only looking for the ethernet and wireless labels, which will look along these lines:

eth3 Link encap:Ethernet direcciónHW...
wlan3 Link encap:Ethernet direcciónHW...

Then you would open the Wicd preferences menu and update the interfaces being used by the application, in this case eth3 and wlan3.

I am trying to figure out a way to do this automatically on startup, but haven't found where Wicd stores that interface information yet... Any ideas welcome!


  1. hello my friend, i really like to read information about linux and unix programs.

  2. I am using linux mint and have recently switched to the KDE desktop for a few reasons but have the same frustrations every time I wish to connect KDE does not find Auto Ethernet and Gnome Will not Save my screen size settings Gnome keeps reverting to 640x480 so with Either Desktop I get small problems.If there were more applications that just worked and on all desktops linux would be much easier to use.Wicd seems to work great I had used it before on other distros but forgot about it thanks for the reminder.BTW why did you approve those spamy comments above I would remove them they are totally off topic