2006-08-28

GNOME Network Manager annoyances

Having recently gotten around buying a WIFI card for the old ThinkPad 240x that my friend Marcus gave me and installed Dapper on it, I began to look for a simple method for selecting wireless Access Points. Someone on #ubuntu recommended network-manager, which I promptly installed. Well...

The NM version in Dapper wouldn't even cooperate with a common 8139too Ethernet card! First, it would correctly fetch the IP from the router, but then the network-manager-gnome applet would keep on spinning and only stop after resetting the IP to some 169.254.0.0 private network meant for Bluetooth and other similar networked consumer devices.

I then cautiously upgraded to Edgy, just enough packages to get a newer network-manager daemon and a 2.6.17 kernel, then tried again. Ah! It at least finally retained the dynamic IP whenever using the 8139too Ethernet card, but it still refused to connect to a wireless network whenever I switch to the DWL-G650 card. Hmm...

Just to check that the Atheros driver (AR5212 chipset appearing as ath0) was correctly loaded, I did a test by opening a terminal and manually setting the ESSID to the nearest Internet café's AP, using iwconfig, then launching dhclient3. Look, ma! It works!

Inspecting the logs revealed that connecting to a non-encrypted network with network-manager systematically fails, because NM bombards the Access Point with wpasupplicant, then sits there wondering why the AP doesn't request authentication, thus eventually reporting a failure to associate with the AP.

How do we fix this? Any Network Manager developer who is reading this that would care to comment?

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