NetworkManager-kde4 update

Back in May I blogged about the network management architecture in KDE 4. It's October now and I can't believe we still don't have a native NetworkManager frontend. But there's nothing like a imminent openSUSE release to focus my energies, and now we're a big step closer to having one.

To remind you what makes up the NetworkManager frontend, we have three components: a Plasmoid that sits in the system tray and is the main control for activating and deactivating network interfaces; a dbus service that provides the configuration needed for them; and a System Settings module that provides the user interface for adding these settings.

These three parts are now present and (slightly) functional. As of this morning it can connect to wired and to unencrypted wireless networks. A fair bit of plumbing work is needed to finish it and enable encrypted/authenticated wireless, UMTS/GSM/CDMA cellular connections, DSL modems and VPNs, but the skeleton of the building is complete.

Today I had a useful meeting with the Plasma team to find out how to make the applet useful and pretty. We had a lot of ideas, but as a picture says a thousand words and a mockup is half-way to completion, I'll close on some pictures.

PS: my father has an adage about never showing an unfinished sketch to fools or art teachers. I trust none of you fall into those categories ;).

The Present of NetworkManager-kde4

The Present of NetworkManager-kde4

System Settings module
System Settings module

Wireless Connection editor
Wireless Connection editor

Mockup of where this is headed. Image by Half-Left of #plasma, thank you!
Where this is headed


beauty is nothing comparing to stability and working out-of-the-box.

'mobile broadband' tab (it's EDGE/GPRS, right?) it intriguing.

By shaforostoff at Tue, 10/07/2008 - 23:06

Will the wireless connection setup get a simplification? Preferably down to just selecting a network and entering a password. Right now it is really complex to setup, the 'mode' being one of the hardest things to pick. The wife here has a Linux netbook and setting up wifi at different places is the main cause of trouble right now. This isn't helped by the fact that everyone gives out instructions for connecting to their network explained in terms of what buttons to click on in "that other operating system". Borrowing the basic layout and terminology from that other operating system probably would be a good idea.

(the mock ups look cool BTW)



By simon edwards at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 05:55

...looks nice but IMO a little bit crowded/too much.

The one thing I most don't like about network manager (e.g. in kubuntu 7.10) is that I don't get success/failure messages.
I enter the settings, click connect and the dialog goes away.
There is just a small icon left in the panel, where I can kind-of see the current status (not connected/connecting/connected), this is small and hard to recognize.
If it succeeds, it's ok. If it doesn't, I would really prefer so much to get some error message, instead of nothing (and just a different tiny icon).
Something like "wrong password" or "network not found" or "wrong encryption" or ...

Will this be better with your new stuff ?


By Alexander Neundorf at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 12:23

At the moment there are a lot of "Add KNotification here" type comments in the code. But it's something I have in mind. The good thing is that NM 0.7 now has useful error codes to determine why for example a connection given to it was rejected, or why a network interface changed state from Connecting to Disconnected. Exposing these in the UI should give us a lot more visibility when things go wrong and replace "KNM sucks" bugreports with "Why didn't my distro install my wireless card's firmware by default?".

By Will Stephenson at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 13:01

... the mockup looks spiffy!! :)

Glad to see VPN support coming! Will things like Cisco VPN be supported (proprietary or free)? Well, guess that depends on the NetworkManager backend? Though, looking at kvpnc (which I'm using at the moment) also the configuration UI seems pretty complex with all the bazillion settings, possibly certificates and what not...

Also it would rock if I could associate a certain VPN to selected Wifi networks, to automatically connect the VPN after getting a Wifi connection.

Will this new Knetworkmanager make it into 4.2?

By psychotron at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 14:11

Cisco VPN (via vpnc) has been supported by NetworkManager for years. I am using openSUSE factory and filling bugreports against the vpnc Networkmanager integration quiet often. ;)

But the last two openSUSE releases should be able to import a .pcf file and connect to a cisco vpn graphically via nm-applet.

I think in 10.3 you can connect to a VPN via knetworkmanager too, but this does not work anymore since the port to nm 0.7...

By fm at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 17:14

Hmm, I'm using Kubuntu and even in Hardy knetworkmanager (0.2.2) can't do substantially more than connecting to wireless networks ;) So I'm fighting with kvpnc and try better not to touch it once I have it running ... IIRC the Gnome frontend can do VPN config, though ... but that doesn't help me a lot ;)

By psychotron at Wed, 10/08/2008 - 22:54