Posted by notKlaatu , 07 October 2008 · 209 views
It is interesting how perception changes.I used to think, partially because everyone around me seemed to insist upon it, that Linux network managers needed work. I never really had a problem with them and really didn't get to test them in robust environments until recently. So, my impression of Linux network managers really is solely based upon releases of Linux distros on or after Fedora 9 or Slackware 12.1 (to give you an idea of time frame).Lately I have been in my own apartment's wireless and wired network, my office's wireless and wired network, my lab's wireless and wired network, and a wireless network at a cafe. And I don't mean I spend 5 hours on one and then another 5 hours on another, I mean I take my computers and walk from one building to another, I sit down, I plug in, I unplug, I walk to another place, I plug in, plug in, unplug, walk to another room, plug in, go out for coffee unplugged, come back, plug in.....you get the idea. Rigorous testing by way of first-hand experience.And you know what? I would take the few Linux network managers I've been using over the Mac OS network manager any day. Hands down. I always assumed the Mac network manager worked well and I assumed that its quality was what people were shooting for. And maybe it was -- I don't know what the Windows one is like so can't compare, nor did I have experience with previous Linux versions -- but if that is the case, they have achieved their goal and surpassed it.So..what's wrong with the Mac network manager?Well... nothing, as such.....it's just that there is no choice with it. You have to use that network manager, like it or not, and if you don't like certain aspects about it, then you're stuck. So what do I not like about it? Let me count the ways:1. How the heck do I set the HOSTNAME and DOMAINNAME of my computer and get my choices to be reflected in the System Prefs > Network ? What is this deal about "computer name" and how does it differ from HOSTNAME? I assume it's got a lot to do with Bonjour, but how about letting me know that?2. How can I stop Airport from remembering every network I ever join without going in and manually deleting it from its "preferred list" ? I can lock the preferences and that helps but if you unlock it for any other reason, it brings in the network you're on. It turns into so many clicks and things to remember it's embarrassing. The Nokia N800's nm handles this PERFECTLY.3. How many clicks does it take for me to turn ON my wifi card but have it NOT assigned to an essid? And how obtusely does the workaround for the lack of that function have to be? The answer is a lot of clicks, and the work around is ridiculous. You have to go into the network system prefs, clear the auto-join list so it's empty, then LOCK your system prefs, go back out, turn off the wifi card, turn it back on, then go back in to the system prefs and you can unlock the network pref pane again and do whatever there you need to do. I get to this on 28 computers once every day. It is not fun. And no, there is no combination that I can find of ifconfig essid xxxxx that will do this properly, mainly because of that stupid self-populating tyrannical auto-join list. 4. Passwords. Passwords. If I set a password on my Airport Brand wireless router, the password is ONE thing on all Mac systems, but entirely different (I kid you not) on Linux systems. You have to, on a Mac with the Mac-only GUI, go into the router and generate the "real" password that you can then use on your Linux machines. Is this brilliant? or stupid? I think it's the latter.5. GUI. To configure the Airport brand router, you think they could have developed a system agnostic setup tool...like, in a browser. You know, the way the screwball Netgear people do. And Netgear ain't exactly the most intelligent group of product developers I've ever encountered, either. Yet Apple can seem to only make a configuration tool for Darwin/Cocoa and there's probably some Windows version out there too. But come on, do they really not know that there are other OS's out there? My eeePC is the one computer in my setup that is light enough and powerful enough and small enough to really be a good little companion as I admister this little network. But like it or not, there are times when I have to lug around a Mac simply to make some small adjustment. It's stupid.That's about it I think... although really there's a lot more. Unplugging and plugging in different networks KILLS the Mac network manager. It just can't deal with it and loves to default to a self-assigned IP. And so on, and so on.So...good job KNetworkManager or whatever it's called ,and even the gnome one, and probably wicd too. THey're workign for me!