[HOWTO] Use Wicd to manage network connections easily!

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[HOWTO] Use Wicd to manage network connections easily!

Postby cmost » Sun Oct 12, 2008 1:00 pm

Wicd is an open source wired and wireless network manager for Linux which aims to provide a simple interface to connect to networks with a wide variety of settings. Wicd is akin to Fedora and Ubuntu's popular Network Manager, but simpler to use and with many unique features. It's also written entirely in Python which makes it fast and stable. Since many Parsix users have asked for an easy to use network manager, I thought I'd offer a howto for Wicd.

..from Wicd's home page here: http://wicd.sourceforge.net/
We can summarize some of Wicd's main features:

1. No Gnome dependencies (although it does require GTK), so it is easy to use in XFCE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Enlightenment, etc.
2. Ability to connect to wired and wireless networks
3. Profiles for each wireless network and wired network
4. Many encryption schemes, some of which include WEP/WPA/WPA2 (and you can add your own)
5. Remains compatible with wireless-tools
6. Tray icon showing network activity and signal strength

Installing Wicd on Debian based systems such as Parsix is easy thanks to Apt. We will simply add the Wicd repository to /etc/apt/sources.list and use Synaptic to install the package. Note: if you're using Network Manager or any other third party network management applet you will want to completely remove it before installing Wicd. There can only be one program to manage wireless/wired networks. Okay, here we go...

1. Open a gnome-terminal and as root type
gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
2. Copy and paste the following lines; save and close
## Wicd - a powerful network manager for Gnome
deb http://apt.wicd.net sid extras
3. If you're impatient, you can remain at the terminal, type (again as root)
apt-get update
apt-get install wicd

Alternately, you can simply open Synaptic and search for Wicd; select it for installation; apply; close Synaptic.
4. Now you should find a Wicd icon in the Applications menu under 'Internet'; selecting this icon should start the program.

To configure Wicd is relatively simple, depending on which wireless driver you're using. Chances are, if 'Network Manager' or other third party tools worked without issues, then Wicd will too. The main problem might be that Wicd simply fails to connect after you install it. If this is the case, make sure that the only entry in your /etc/network/interfaces file is

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

You can change the contents of this file by pressing alt + f2, then typing
gksudo gedit /etc/network/interfaces

You can ignore lines that start with #.

For other problems installing or configuring Wicd, you can check out the excellent Wicd forums here: http://wicd.sourceforge.net/punbb/

To startup Wicd each time you start your computer (and activate the handy tray icon similar to Network Manager's,) simply go to 'Applications' --> 'Preferences' --> 'Sessions' and add an entry with the command wicd-client

Enjoy Wicd!
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