NetworkManager: more support for corporate environments

Tux
The NetworkManager tries to ease the usage of wireless networks from a users point of view. The next version 0.6.5 will incorporate support for a range of authentication methods which are often used in large WLAN deployments.

The NetworkManager is an irreplaceable tool when you work with changing networks on a Linux computer: it can manage different wireless LANs as well as wired LANs and even VPN connections. And of course, you can switch easily between the networks without any problems.
NM’s release by Red Hat was the breakthrough which made networking on Linux user machines really easy. Today almost every bigger distribution includes NetworkManager.

However, there are shortcomings: although NM uses the wpa_supplicant to authenticate against secured networks NM doesn’t support all authentication methods supported by wpa_supplicat.
Especially the EAP methods have limited support. This limits the usage of NetworkManager in corporate environments somewhat because these techniques are often used by big WLAN deployments.

Now it was revealed in a bug report that the next version of NM, version 0.6.5 will have support for several of these methods:

Using the 0.6.5-pre version of nm-applet downloaded from
http://people.redhat.com/dcbw/NetworkManager/0.6.5, I can see options for
EAP-TTLS/{PAP,MSCHAP,MSCHAPV2,GTC}. So, it should work for you.

This is great news for everyone working at a bigger company or using WLAN for example in universities (I know of several universities which use one of these methods to authenticate).
From my point of view it would be additionally nice to see when Linux would have native support for these techniques because howtos I read about TTLS/PAP configuration on Windows stated that you need extra software because Windows does not support it native.

One thing though: this is still a development version – nothing is written in stone, it is not marked as usable in production environment and I haven’t tested that. But as soon as a new version is marked stable enough I’m out testing it!

A last word about new versions of NetworkManager:
0.6.5 is a minor release: big changes will come with version 0.7:

  • Multiple Active Devices (think of connection sharing here)
  • System-wide Configuration (the current one is userbased only)
  • wpa_supplicant dbus Control Interface (socket based atm; a dbus interface could bring more flexibility)
  • More Wireless/Wired Authentication Methods (even with the mentioned support there are some missing)

However, there is no targeted release date I know of atm.

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7 thoughts on “NetworkManager: more support for corporate environments

  1. NetworkManager is probably the best Network monitoring tool I’ve used. With it’s new GTK icons. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

  2. Don’t forget that NetworkManager itself is desktop environment independent. The icons are most certainly on your gnome applet, while there is also a KDE applet available ;)

  3. I love this, but haven’t figured out how to make it choose the currently available wireless. I always have to log in root and manually select/apply the current wireless profile, which drives me nuts, as I use the laptop at work and at home. I’ve poked about but nothing obvious in it’s settings (it’s very VERY minimal, which I know is by design, but come on, roaming profiles should at least be an option…) Am I missing something?

  4. The best would be to join a Forum or an e-mail list – the blog comment section is just not made for discussing problems and search for solutions :/

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