NetworkManager Gets Facelift for Karmic Koala Ubuntu 9.10

NetworkManager, the default wired- and wireless-connection client in Ubuntu, has received a substantial aesthetic makeover for Ubuntu 9.10.  Here's a look.

Although it's come a long way since its early days, I was never a huge fan of NetworkManager in earlier Ubuntu releases.  It's always seemed kind of ugly on a compiz-enabled desktop, and even in Jaunty, I found myself resorting occasionally to wicd or manual connections because NM had issues with some of the wireless networks I need to connect to (in particular, it never liked WPA-enterprise security very much).

While I haven't been using Ubuntu 9.10 on my laptop long enough to say anything with certainty, the technical failings suffered by NM in earlier releases seem to have disappeared under Karmic.  I have yet to experience a single dropped connection, and the "Create New Wireless Network" feature, which simplifies the creation of ad-hoc networks, even appears to work as expected with my Broadcom hardware, which is a first (although it may have more to do with fixes to the b43 driver than NetworkManager).

On the non-technical front, NM in Karmic has received a major facelift, with much more elegant icons and animations.  Here's a look at the new art in action:

By my standards, this is a major aesthetic improvement over the clunky and unclean icons of the original NetworkManager.  The animation is also much more graceful.

On the downside, the new animation doesn't indicate how far the connection attempt has progressed--the old one distinguished between the stages of authentication, association and acquiring an address--but that's only something geeks will care about.  There's also no longer a pop-up message when the connection is complete, but that's not a big deal.

Along with other updates to Ubuntu's look in Karmic, the changes to NetworkManager reflect a solid and successful effort to meet and surpass the interface enhancements of proprietary operating systems, demonstrating that software can be Free and good-looking at the same time.

Discuss this Video 21

Wesley (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2009
I have noticed the same improvements with broadcom wireless. I used to always lose my connection when transferring large files over a network, now it will purr all day long. The new look is great also.
bigbrovar (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2009
Network manager in kubuntu has been a mess since Intrepid Ibex (Ubuntu 8.10) on Kubuntu jaunty It just doesnt work and i had to use wicd instead. Good to see that the gnome version for ubuntu is getting so much love (as with every other part of gubuntu )
László Torma (toros) 's status on Monday, 19-Oct-09 17:48:57 (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2009
Perspectoff (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2009
It's you, not Kubuntu. Network Manager works fine for me on my laptop in Kubuntu 9.04.
g3n1uss (not verified)
on Oct 19, 2009
I have terrible problems with my broadcom wireless card in kernel after 28, in 28 it was just fine, but in 30 and 31 there are no wireless card, installing manual b43 driver does't help. Do you have the same problem?
Roy Schestowitz (schestowitz) 's status on Tuesday, 20-Oct-0 (not verified)
on Oct 20, 2009
Akira (not verified)
on Oct 20, 2009
New network manager is really big failure compared to one in 9.04 it's much more unstable and it randomly crashes ...
on Oct 20, 2009
g3n1uss: my Broadcom 4306 wireless works great in Karmic. Perhaps you have one of the models not supported by the b43 driver (some of the newer chips, in particular the 802.11n ones, only work with the proprietary driver supplied by Broadcom)? Akira: I've been using the new NetworkManager for a couple weeks and have net experienced any crashes, so I don't think the problem you're experiencing is universal, but hopefully it will be fixed for you before the final release.
Akira (not verified)
on Oct 20, 2009
I reported bug so hope they will fix it for final release. I'm designer and it's nice to have good looking interface and stuff but functionality and stability should be priority.
neo (not verified)
on Oct 21, 2009
Red Hat has been working tirelessly to develop and maintain NetworkManager from scratch and fixing even wireless drivers in the process (John Linville, the upstream wireless subsystem maintainer works for Red Hat). Canonical patches NM and doesn't send those patches upstream. Why?
mocoloco (not verified)
on Oct 21, 2009
Glad somebody likes the new look. Personally I think the monochrome icons are too "we want to look like OS X"-ish for my taste. Especially since all other apps use color tray icons, making the NM and volume icons look out of place. Oh well, I can always change my theme. Functionally it's great, no issues.
dsgdsghd (not verified)
on Oct 21, 2009
"On the downside, the new animation doesn’t indicate how far the connection attempt has progressed–the old one distinguished between the stages of authentication, association and acquiring an address–but that’s only something geeks will care about. There’s also no longer a pop-up message when the connection is complete, but that’s not a big deal." Fair use The absence of the indications is indeed a downside, they help a lot sometimes. I would like to know when the connection is complete, so I can go surfing. Average Joe would like to know that too.
dsgdsghd (not verified)
on Oct 21, 2009
Notification pop-ups that indicate something is ready should not take the focus out of the current windows. And be placed always on top. (Being able to change that is not a problem, it only allows more freedom. Setting that kind of messages always on top as default is probably the most convenient.) And be small, animating them is a good idea.
TJVideo: NetworkManager si rifà il trucco su Ubuntu 9.10 | T (not verified)
on Oct 23, 2009
[...] e non sanno mettere mano alla riga dei comandi per far funzionare il proprio hardware. A sorpresa, dice qualcuno, ora funzionano anche le schede di rete wireless Broadcom. L#8217;ennesimo ottimo passo in avanti [...]
Zac (not verified)
on Oct 23, 2009
Hey, looks good. Add up the changes like this and they make a big difference.
WindPower (not verified)
on Oct 26, 2009
NetworkManager never worked for me either in Kubuntu 8.10 and 9.04, had to use wicd too. It just wouldn't connect to any network, and asked repeatedly for the WEP/WPA keys to the networks I wanted to connect to.
jlps (not verified)
on Nov 9, 2009
I upgraded from ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10 and had two surprises. The first one, very pleasant. Everything worked nicely out-of-the-box with my fire years old HP Pavilion. The second, on a HP Pavilion dv4-1125br, with a Broadcom 4312 board, seems to be a disaster: there's no way to make it connect to the wireless network.
on Nov 10, 2009
jlps: the Broadcom 4312 card should work with the 'wl' driver from Broadcom. I'd recommend making a post in the Ubuntu forums if you need help.
on Nov 10, 2009
jlps: I take that back. It looks like the module 'wl' is not installed by default in Karmic (which is interesting because it probably has to do with it being proprietary). If you try to enable your wireless card from "Hardware Drivers" it should install the driver for you (provided you have an Internet connection), or you can install the module manually by installing the package bcmwl-kernel-source.
Marshall (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2009
@17 jlps: Great to see that somebody else has the same notebook model! After digging out a little bit, I found (I believe it was in that very same blog) some info on the broadcom drivers. I managed to put it to work yesterday and now eveything is fine with the wireless card. What you have to do is install the system with no wired connection (no connection to Internet at all). After the reboot, change the software sources to get the packages from the CD only. Then run the Hardware Drivers and install the Broadcom Driver. It'll ask you to reboot the notebook, but even before that, if you click on the network manager icon on the panel, you will see the available wireless networks. Also, with Karmic, the kernel recognizes Sony MS cards with the JMicron card reader. Hope this helps.
Anish D (not verified)
on Dec 18, 2009
It is 'true' that the network manager got a facelift with Karmic. DSL connection does not work any more. So go back to jaunty or look forward to L****.04
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