There are lots of things to like about the GNOME desktop environment. It’s free, it’s highly consistent and backup up with excellent development ethics and a wide range of supported applications. It comes as no surprise that it is the default desktop in a lot of Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, …). There’s one thing that’s been bothering me for a few years now: the default network manager. It had to go.
First of all, there’s the lack of user info on what is happening. The only feedback you get as a normal desktop user is an icon displaying either one green ball, two green balls, or connection strength if a connection is made. The problem lies in what’s displayed when stuff goes wrong: you’ll get the connection details screen again (where you enter the network password), regardless what goes wrong. If it’s a signal strength problem, auth problem or DHCP issue, no distinction is made.
So it had to go.
In Ubuntu 9.10, it’s very easy to replace gnome-network-manager with WICD, an alternative network manager with a few interesting features: no GNOME dependencies (but it still integrates okay), encryption profiles, profiles per network …
In a terminal:
sudo apt-get install wicd
Ubuntu will warn you that the package gnome-network-manager and nm-applet will be removed. Don’t worry if you want to return thought, the configuration files are left intact, and a simple sudo apt-get install network-manager does the trick.
After a reboot, WICD is started. You can access it using the icon in the task bar, launching the manages in Applications -> Internet, or even using the console-based manager called wicd-curses. Awesome.