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documentation.suse.com / A SUSE Linux Enterprise Server dokumentációja / Administration Guide / Mobile Computers / Using NetworkManager
Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP5

38 Using NetworkManager

NetworkManager is the ideal solution for laptops and other portable computers. It supports state-of-the-art encryption types and standards for network connections, including connections to 802.1X protected networks. 802.1X is the IEEE Standard for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks—Port-Based Network Access Control. With NetworkManager, you need not worry about configuring network interfaces and switching between wired or wireless networks when you are moving. NetworkManager can automatically connect to known wireless networks or manage several network connections in parallel—the fastest connection is then used as default. Furthermore, you can manually switch between available networks and manage your network connection using an applet in the system tray.

Instead of only one connection being active, multiple connections may be active at once. This enables you to unplug your laptop from an Ethernet and remain connected via a wireless connection.

38.1 Use Cases for NetworkManager

NetworkManager provides a sophisticated and intuitive user interface, which enables users to easily switch their network environment. However, NetworkManager is not a suitable solution in the following cases:

  • Your computer provides network services for other computers in your network, for example, it is a DHCP or DNS server.

  • Your computer is a Xen server or your system is a virtual system inside Xen.

38.2 Enabling or Disabling NetworkManager

On laptop computers, NetworkManager is enabled by default. However, it can be at any time enabled or disabled in the YaST Network Settings module.

  1. Run YaST and go to System › Network Settings.

  2. The Network Settings dialog opens. Go to the Global Options tab.

  3. To configure and manage your network connections with NetworkManager:

    1. In the Network Setup Method field, select User Controlled with NetworkManager.

    2. Click OK and close YaST.

    3. Configure your network connections with NetworkManager as described in Section 38.3, “Configuring Network Connections”.

  4. To deactivate NetworkManager and control the network with your own configuration

    1. In the Network Setup Method field, choose Controlled by wicked.

    2. Click OK.

    3. Set up your network card with YaST using automatic configuration via DHCP or a static IP address.

      Find a detailed description of the network configuration with YaST in Section 17.4, “Configuring a Network Connection with YaST”.

38.3 Configuring Network Connections

After having enabled NetworkManager in YaST, configure your network connections with the NetworkManager front-end available in GNOME. It shows tabs for all types of network connections, such as wired, wireless, mobile broadband, DSL, and VPN connections.

To open the network configuration dialog in GNOME, open the settings menu via the status menu and click the Network entry.

Note: Availability of Options

Depending on your system setup, you may not be allowed to configure connections. In a secured environment, some options may be locked or require root permission. Ask your system administrator for details.

GNOME Network Connections Dialog
Figure 38.1: GNOME Network Connections Dialog
Procedure 38.1: Adding and Editing Connections
  1. Open the NetworkManager configuration dialog.

  2. To add a Connection:

    1. Click the + icon in the lower left corner.

    2. Select your preferred connection type and follow the instructions.

    3. When you are finished click Add.

    4. After having confirmed your changes, the newly configured network connection appears in the list of available networks you get by opening the Status Menu.

  3. To edit a connection:

    1. Select the entry to edit.

    2. Click the gear icon to open the Connection Settings dialog.

    3. Insert your changes and click Apply to save them.

    4. To Make your connection available as system connection go to the Identity tab and set the check box Make available to other users. For more information about User and System Connections, see Section 38.4.1, “User and System Connections”.

38.3.1 Managing Wired Network Connections

If your computer is connected to a wired network, use the NetworkManager applet to manage the connection.

  1. Open the Status Menu and click Wired to change the connection details or to switch it off.

  2. To change the settings click Wired Settings and then click the gear icon.

  3. To switch off all network connections, activate the Airplane Mode setting.

38.3.2 Managing Wireless Network Connections

Visible wireless networks are listed in the GNOME NetworkManager applet menu under Wireless Networks. The signal strength of each network is also shown in the menu. Encrypted wireless networks are marked with a shield icon.

Procedure 38.2: Connecting to a visible Wireless Network
  1. To connect to a visible wireless network, open the Status Menu and click Wi-Fi.

  2. Click Turn On to enable it.

  3. Click Select Network, select your Wi-Fi Network and click Connect.

  4. If the network is encrypted, a configuration dialog opens. It shows the type of encryption the network uses and text boxes for entering the login credentials.

Procedure 38.3: Connecting to an Invisible Wireless Network
  1. To connect to a network that does not broadcast its service set identifier (SSID or ESSID) and therefore cannot be detected automatically, open the Status Menu and click Wi-Fi.

  2. Click Wi-Fi Settings to open the detailed settings menu.

  3. Make sure your Wi-Fi is enabled and click Connect to Hidden Network.

  4. In the dialog that opens, enter the SSID or ESSID in Network Name and set encryption parameters if necessary.

A wireless network that has been chosen explicitly will remain connected as long as possible. If a network cable is plugged in during that time, any connections that have been set to Stay connected when possible will be connected, while the wireless connection remains up.

38.3.3 Enabling Wireless Captive Portal Detection

On the initial connection, many public wireless hotspots force users to visit a landing page (the captive portal). Before you have logged in or agreed to the terms and conditions, all your HTTP requests are redirected to the provider's captive portal.

When connecting to a wireless network with a captive portal, NetworkManager and GNOME will automatically show the login page as part of the connection process. This ensures that you always know when you are connected, and helps you to get set up as quickly as possible without using the browser to login.

To enable this feature, install the package NetworkManager-branding-SLE and restart NetworkManager with:

tux > sudo systemctl restart network

Whenever you connect to a network with a captive portal, NetworkManager (or GNOME) will open the captive portal login page for you. Login with your credentials to get access to the Internet.

38.3.4 Configuring Your Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Card as an Access Point

If your Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card supports access point mode, you can use NetworkManager for the configuration.

  1. Open the Status Menu and click Wi-Fi.

  2. Click Wi-Fi Settings to open the detailed settings menu.

  3. Click Use as Hotspot and follow the instructions.

  4. Use the credentials shown in the resulting dialog to connect to the hotspot from a remote machine.

38.3.5 NetworkManager and VPN

NetworkManager supports several Virtual Private Network (VPN) technologies. For each technology, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server comes with a base package providing the generic support for NetworkManager. In addition to that, you also need to install the respective desktop-specific package for your applet.


To use this VPN technology, install:

  • NetworkManager-openvpn

  • NetworkManager-openvpn-gnome

vpnc (Cisco AnyConnect)

To use this VPN technology, install:

  • NetworkManager-vpnc

  • NetworkManager-vpnc-gnome

PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol)

To use this VPN technology, install:

  • NetworkManager-pptp

  • NetworkManager-pptp-gnome

The following procedure describes how to set up your computer as an OpenVPN client using NetworkManager. Setting up other types of VPNs works analogously.

Before you begin, make sure that the package NetworkManager-openvpn-gnome is installed and all dependencies have been resolved.

Procedure 38.4: Setting Up OpenVPN with NetworkManager
  1. Open the application Settings by clicking the status icons at the right end of the panel and clicking the wrench and screwdriver icon. In the window All Settings, choose Network.

  2. Click the + icon.

  3. Select VPN and then OpenVPN.

  4. Choose the Authentication type. Depending on the setup of your OpenVPN server, choose Certificates (TLS) or Password with Certificates (TLS).

  5. Insert the necessary values into the respective text boxes. For our example configuration, these are:


    The remote endpoint of the VPN server

    User name

    The user (only available when you have selected Password with Certificates (TLS))


    The password for the user (only available when you have selected Password with Certificates (TLS))

    User Certificate


    CA Certificate


    Private Key


  6. Finish the configuration with Add.

  7. To enable the connection, in the Network panel of the Settings application click the switch button. Alternatively, click the status icons at the right end of the panel, click the name of your VPN and then Connect.

38.4 NetworkManager and Security

NetworkManager distinguishes two types of wireless connections, trusted and untrusted. A trusted connection is any network that you explicitly selected in the past. All others are untrusted. Trusted connections are identified by the name and MAC address of the access point. Using the MAC address ensures that you cannot use a different access point with the name of your trusted connection.

NetworkManager periodically scans for available wireless networks. If multiple trusted networks are found, the most recently used is automatically selected. NetworkManager waits for your selection in case that all networks are untrusted.

If the encryption setting changes but the name and MAC address remain the same, NetworkManager attempts to connect, but first you are asked to confirm the new encryption settings and provide any updates, such as a new key.

If you switch from using a wireless connection to offline mode, NetworkManager blanks the SSID or ESSID. This ensures that the card is disconnected.

38.4.1 User and System Connections

NetworkManager knows two types of connections: user and system connections. User connections are connections that become available to NetworkManager when the first user logs in. Any required credentials are asked from the user and when the user logs out, the connections are disconnected and removed from NetworkManager. Connections that are defined as system connection can be shared by all users and are made available right after NetworkManager is started—before any users log in. In case of system connections, all credentials must be provided at the time the connection is created. Such system connections can be used to automatically connect to networks that require authorization. For information how to configure user or system connections with NetworkManager, refer to Section 38.3, “Configuring Network Connections”.

38.4.2 Storing Passwords and Credentials

If you do not want to re-enter your credentials each time you want to connect to an encrypted network, you can use the GNOME Keyring Manager to store your credentials encrypted on the disk, secured by a master password.

NetworkManager can also retrieve its certificates for secure connections (for example, encrypted wired, wireless or VPN connections) from the certificate store. For more information, refer to Chapter 13, Certificate Store.

38.5 Frequently Asked Questions

In the following, find some frequently asked questions about configuring special network options with NetworkManager.

1. How to tie a connection to a specific device?

By default, connections in NetworkManager are device type-specific: they apply to all physical devices with the same type. If more than one physical device per connection type is available (for example, your machine is equipped with two Ethernet cards), you can tie a connection to a certain device.

To do this in GNOME, first look up the MAC address of your device (use the Connection Information available from the applet, or use the output of command line tools like nm-tool or wicked show all). Then start the dialog for configuring network connections and choose the connection you want to modify. On the Wired or Wireless tab, enter the MAC Address of the device and confirm your changes.

2. How to specify a certain access point in case multiple access points with the same ESSID are detected?

When multiple access points with different wireless bands (a/b/g/n) are available, the access point with the strongest signal is automatically chosen by default. To override this, use the BSSID field when configuring wireless connections.

The Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID) uniquely identifies each Basic Service Set. In an infrastructure Basic Service Set, the BSSID is the MAC address of the wireless access point. In an independent (ad-hoc) Basic Service Set, the BSSID is a locally administered MAC address generated from a 46-bit random number.

Start the dialog for configuring network connections as described in Section 38.3, “Configuring Network Connections”. Choose the wireless connection you want to modify and click Edit. On the Wireless tab, enter the BSSID.

3. How to share network connections to other computers?

The primary device (the device which is connected to the Internet) does not need any special configuration. However, you need to configure the device that is connected to the local hub or machine as follows:

  1. Start the dialog for configuring network connections as described in Section 38.3, “Configuring Network Connections”. Choose the connection you want to modify and click Edit. Switch to the IPv4 Settings tab and from the Method drop-down box, activate Shared to other computers. That will enable IP traffic forwarding and run a DHCP server on the device. Confirm your changes in NetworkManager.

  2. As the DCHP server uses port 67, make sure that it is not blocked by the firewall: On the machine sharing the connections, start YaST and select Security and Users › Firewall. Switch to the Allowed Services category. If DCHP Server is not already shown as Allowed Service, select DCHP Server from Services to Allow and click Add. Confirm your changes in YaST.

4. How to provide static DNS information with automatic (DHCP, PPP, VPN) addresses?

In case a DHCP server provides invalid DNS information (and/or routes), you can override it. Start the dialog for configuring network connections as described in Section 38.3, “Configuring Network Connections”. Choose the connection you want to modify and click Edit. Switch to the IPv4 Settings tab, and from the Method drop-down box, activate Automatic (DHCP) addresses only. Enter the DNS information in the DNS Servers and Search Domains fields. To Ignore automatically obtained routes click Routes and activate the respective check box. Confirm your changes.

5. How to make NetworkManager connect to password protected networks before a user logs in?

Define a system connection that can be used for such purposes. For more information, refer to Section 38.4.1, “User and System Connections”.

38.6 Troubleshooting

Connection problems can occur. Some common problems related to NetworkManager include the applet not starting or a missing VPN option. Methods for resolving and preventing these problems depend on the tool used.

NetworkManager Desktop Applet Does Not Start

The applets starts automatically if the network is set up for NetworkManager control. If the applet does not start, check if NetworkManager is enabled in YaST as described in Section 38.2, “Enabling or Disabling NetworkManager”. Then make sure that the NetworkManager-gnome package is also installed.

If the desktop applet is installed but is not running for some reason, start it manually. If the desktop applet is installed but is not running for some reason, start it manually with the command nm-applet.

NetworkManager Applet Does Not Include the VPN Option

Support for NetworkManager, applets, and VPN for NetworkManager is distributed in separate packages. If your NetworkManager applet does not include the VPN option, check if the packages with NetworkManager support for your VPN technology are installed. For more information, see Section 38.3.5, “NetworkManager and VPN”.

No Network Connection Available

If you have configured your network connection correctly and all other components for the network connection (router, etc.) are also up and running, it sometimes helps to restart the network interfaces on your computer. To do so, log in to a command line as root and run systemctl restart wickeds.

38.7 For More Information

More information about NetworkManager can be found on the following Web sites and directories:

NetworkManager Project Page


Package Documentation

Also check out the information in the following directories for the latest information about NetworkManager and the GNOME applet:

  • /usr/share/doc/packages/NetworkManager/,

  • /usr/share/doc/packages/NetworkManager-gnome/.