A hot topic in the community is wireless management. There’s a whole lot of buzz about NetworkManager, Wicd, dbus, frontends, PolicyKit, plasmoids, and the whole modicum of dizzying names and acronyms. Let me tell you about my mobile laptop’s wifi setup and why it’s easier and slimmer than any of the classic bloat.
I use wpa_supplicant’s optional wpa_gui. It’s a tiny Qt app that has a tray icon and a command line switch to start in the tray. Wpa_supplicant is required for all modern wireless connections and is always running in the background no matter what. Wpa_gui simply connects to wpa_gui’s socket and tells it what to do. I like having wpa_gui in my system tray so that I can reconfigure wifi networks easily.
zx2c4@ZX2C4-Laptop ~ $ cat ~/.kde/Autostart/wpagui.sh wpa_gui -t
And check it out:
A simple, somewhat ugly, but extremely functional info display. I can connect to new networks with a simple double click:
And presto it connects to the wifi network. I can also configure all of the highly advanced encryption profiles that wpa_supplicant supports. All of this is easily accessible in my tray:
If I did not want wpa_gui -t running all the time, I could pretty easily make this into a little quick launch plasma button, and it would start up nearly as fast, because wpa_gui is so light weight.
This is how I do wireless. I have never had any trouble, and I can connect to wifi networks anywhere I go with ease. It remembers the connections and the priorities that I assign, and I have not seen any system simpler or easier than this.
For wired networking, netplug calls my ethernet setup scripts when I plug in an ethernet cable. No tinkering required. For wired networking, running dhcpcd alone is enough to monitor my Ethernet port for changes, and bring up my network and assign an IP when a cable is plugged in. For non dhcp networking, I just close dhcp and use the standard linux ifconfig/ip tools. For my cellphone internet via bluetooth, I run “pon nokia” and my ppp chatscript does all the rest. All this could easily be tied to a little menu button in my launcher.
I’m bloat free, and networking dynamically on the go with my laptop does not require any advanced timely tinkering.
Why are you all using NM, wicd, etc instead of good ol’ wpa_gui?
Update, July 12, 2011: I’m still going strong with wpa_gui. Did you know there’s also wpa_cli, which does the same but has an easy command line interface for managing wifi networks. Incredible. Anyway, I no longer use netplug nor any ethernet scripts. I just have plain old dhcpcd running, which monitors eth0 for me like normal. When something is plugged in, it gets everything set. So my network setup is essentially:
- /usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant -Dwext -iwlan0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf -B -c/etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf
- /sbin/dhcpcd -q
These are both run by normal init scripts (or systemd or upstart or whatever). Nothing fancy at all.