17.5 NetworkManager

NetworkManager is the ideal solution for laptops and other portable computers. With NetworkManager, you do not need to worry about configuring network interfaces and switching between networks when you are moving.

17.5.1 NetworkManager and wicked

However, NetworkManager is not a suitable solution for all cases, so you can still choose between the wicked controlled method for managing network connections and NetworkManager. If you want to manage your network connection with NetworkManager, enable NetworkManager in the YaST Network Settings module as described in Section 31.2, Enabling or Disabling NetworkManager and configure your network connections with NetworkManager. For a list of use cases and a detailed description of how to configure and use NetworkManager, refer to Section 31.0, Using NetworkManager.

Some differences between wicked and NetworkManager:

root Privileges

If you use NetworkManager for network setup, you can easily switch, stop or start your network connection at any time from within your desktop environment using an applet. NetworkManager also makes it possible to change and configure wireless card connections without requiring root privileges. For this reason, NetworkManager is the ideal solution for a mobile workstation.

wicked also provides some ways to switch, stop or start the connection with or without user intervention, like user-managed devices. However, this always requires root privileges to change or configure a network device. This is often a problem for mobile computing, where it is not possible to preconfigure all the connection possibilities.

Types of Network Connections

Both wicked and NetworkManager can handle network connections with a wireless network (with WEP, WPA-PSK, and WPA-Enterprise access) and wired networks using DHCP and static configuration. They also support connection through dial-up and VPN. With NetworkManager you can also connect a mobile broadband (3G) modem or set up a DSL connection, which is not possible with the traditional configuration.

NetworkManager tries to keep your computer connected at all times using the best connection available. If the network cable is accidentally disconnected, it tries to reconnect. It can find the network with the best signal strength from the list of your wireless connections and automatically use it to connect. To get the same functionality with wicked, more configuration effort is required.

17.5.2 NetworkManager Functionality and Configuration Files

The individual network connection settings created with NetworkManager are stored in configuration profiles. The system connections configured with either NetworkManager or YaST are saved in /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/* or in /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-*. For GNOME, all user-defined connections are stored in GConf.

In case no profile is configured, NetworkManager automatically creates one and names it Auto $INTERFACE-NAME. That is made in an attempt to work without any configuration for as many cases as (securely) possible. If the automatically created profiles do not suit your needs, use the network connection configuration dialogs provided by GNOME to modify them as desired. For more information, see Section 31.3, Configuring Network Connections.

17.5.3 Controlling and Locking Down NetworkManager Features

On centrally administered machines, certain NetworkManager features can be controlled or disabled with PolKit, for example if a user is allowed to modify administrator defined connections or if a user is allowed to define his own network configurations. To view or change the respective NetworkManager policies, start the graphical Authorizations tool for PolKit. In the tree on the left side, find them below the network-manager-settings entry. For an introduction to PolKit and details on how to use it, refer to Section 9.0, Authorization with PolKit, (↑Security Guide).