While I’m not a big fan of clicky-clicky applications, I find it quite nice to be able to select some WEP/WPA settings in a GUI (as opposed to configuring wpa_supplicant manually) once in a while (new home, new couch by a friend’s, new phone), and be done with it forever.

Having mostly used Xfce over the years, I naturally came to trying out Wicd around 2006 (according to Wikipedia), and it looked like it did the job. It’s been on all my laptops since then, and things were quite fine… until the last laptop switch. For some (to be determined) reasons, that one comes up with a soft-blocked (rfkill) wireless LAN, which makes Wicd the biggest pain I have ever experienced as far as networking is concerned (see 4th bug report below).

So I finally decided to try out that network-manager thing people apparently love to hate.

A few bugs were filed in the process:

  • #692413: wicd-daemon: /etc/init.d/wicd stop doesn’t kill wpa_supplicant

  • #692414: network-manager: /etc/init.d/network-manager stop leaves wpa_supplicant behind

  • #692417: wicd-daemon: Continuously, ridiculously runs ifconfig/iwconfig

  • #692418: wicd-daemon: Fails to automatically (re)connect after rfkill unblock

I think nm-applet is the only Gtk3 application I have, meaning slightly bad visuals (no integration with the current Gtk2 theme for other applications), but besides that, everything is now running smoothly.

Bottom line: contrary to Wicd, NetworkManager just works!

I can’t tell for sure since I’m not using Gnome, but I’m not sure why somebody would want to use Wicd there as it’s clearly inferior on a technical level. Maybe something about the GUI/CLI? At least NetworkManager knows about netlink sockets, doesn’t waste resources through useless polling, and is able to figure out when connections need kicking. That one just does its job.

What triggered this Wicd→NetworkManager switch is a look at the linux source, which reminded me of some strange polling noticed while playing around with auditd, as mentioned in #692417; that and the “no network at boot-up unless one triggers several actions in a Wicd client” bit.