Hassle Free Networking on Ubuntu with NetworkManager

In this post, the first in a series covering various platforms (Linux, Windows, Mac), we look at networking on Ubuntu Linux using NetworkManager. We primarily use Ubuntu Linux at RedButton and so its only natural that NetworkManager comes under the spotlight first.

NetworkManager is the network configuration tool that you will generally use to connect to wireless and wired networks. The tool is there to make networking easy or pain-free and the official design goals are simplicity, visual clarity and automation. We believe it performs admirably in all departments, especially when considering the needs of the average desktop user who simply wants to get connected to their local office network or hotspot.

In order to use NetworkManager, or to see whether you are already using it, have a look at your network settings. Click on System > Administration > Network and the Network Settings screen will open. On most laptops you will see a Wireless connection and Wired connection under the Connections tab and perhaps even a Modem connection as is displayed below.

If NetworkManager is being used to manage the connection, you will see Roaming mode enabled displayed as you do with the Wired connection in the image above. As you can see, the Wireless connection displays something different and is thus not managed by NetworkManager, so we select the Wireless connection and click on Settings to see the following screen pop up.

Click on Enable roaming mode and the wireless and connection settings are no longer configurable, as is shown in the image below, as you will now be using NetworkManager to manage your network settings.

After you have done the above, you will click on the network icon that

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would usually be in the top right hand portion of your screen as is shown below.

Assuming that you want to connect to your local WiFi network, right click and select Enable Wireless:

Next click on the icon to view the list of available networks and select the network you want to connect to:

In the example shown above a connection has been made to RedButton Internet and it is an unencrypted network, as hotspots generally are since you authenticate using a web interface. You would be prompted for a passphrase or network key when connecting to an encrypted network.

There is more to NetworkManager, but mostly its operation is automated and intuitive. We leave you to discover the rest of it and enjoy networking on Ubuntu.

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2 Responses to “Hassle Free Networking on Ubuntu with NetworkManager”

  1. I’m not sure if rebutton wireless internet works completely for everyone else but i tried it last night on my laptop. It displayed ” wait while connection is in progress” and apparently it then showed connected without entering the code that redbutton provided…not the problem also was when i tried a site like google, i couldn’t get thru to the internet. It kept displaying “page cannot be found”.

    Whats your suggestion, comment or help? I really think this is the next best thing in south africa to get broadband and especially the prepaid facility and no need for phone line rental anymore.

  2. Wireless Internet Hotspots Simplified Reply 16. Mar, 2008 at 17:14

    Thank-you for the positive feedback regarding our broadband distribution model being the way forward. We’ll keep on introducing innovations to make sure RedButton users get the best possible service.

    With regards to getting connected, should you need support please call us on 0861 BUTTON (2 888 66) or leave us a
    direct message
    and please include a contact number.

    The following network settings need to be checked on your PC, this is assuming that you are using Windows XP and Internet Explorer:

    1) Click on start – control panel – network connections – right click on wireless connection – select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) then click on properties – make sure “Obtain an IP address automatically” is selected and that “Obtain DNS server address automatically” is selected.

    2) Click on start – internet explorer – tools – internet options – select connections tab – click on LAN settings – make sure “Automatically detect settings” is selected and also make sure that under Proxy server “Use a proxy server for your LAN” is NOT selected.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact us if need assistance.

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