Use an alternative wifi connection manager

Wicd (http://wicd.sourceforge.net/) is an excellent swap-in replacement for NetworkManager. NetworkManager is the system software that sits in the notification area and handles network connections. Wicd does the same job but using a piece of software that's almost entirely independent of existing Ubuntu infrastructure, and packs in a few extra features too, such as the ability to configure static IP/DNS addresses, and use global DNS servers such as that offered by OpenDNS (http:// www.opendns.org).

Here's how to install and configure Wicd:

1. You'll need to add a new software repository. To do so, click System ^ Administration ^ Software Sources and click the Third-Party Software tab. Then click the Add button and enter deb http://apt.wicd.net hardy extras. Click Close and then the Reload button to refresh the list of software.

2. Use Synaptic to search for and install wicd. Once installed you'll need to reboot and following this you'll find Wicd on the Applications ^ Internet menu. Note that the wicd package will remove the NetworkManager packages during installation. You might see a brief error message that "NetworkManager applet could not find some required resources." This can be ignored. Once Wicd has installed, reboot the system, although if you want to setup a notification area icon for Wicd, follow the instructions in the next step first.

3. To add a notification area icon, similar to that of NetworkManager, a few manual steps are necessary. Click System ^ Preferences ^ Sessions and click Add. Type wicd into the Name field and /opt/wicd/tray.py into the Command text area. Leave the Comment text field clear. Then close the dialog box and reboot.

4. When you start Wicd (it can be found on the Applications ^ Inter -net menu), it will automatically scan for nearby wifi networks. If no networks are shown, click the Refresh toolbar button.

5. Before you can connect, which is done by clicking the Connect link, "unfold" the configuration options by clicking the little triangle symbol alongside the wifi base station's entry on the list. Then unfold Advanced Settings and put a check in Use Encryption. Select the type of wifi protection the base station uses from the list and and type the key or password in the text box provided. Of course, if the network has no protection (usually described as an open network) then you can skip this step. Then click the blue Connect link. Once you've connected to the network, you can quit the Wicd configuration program.

For more network configuration magic, see Tip 43, on page 103; Tip 60, on page 121; Tip 70, on page 128; and Tip 119, on page 167.

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