In most modern Linux distributions, network configuration is handled by NetworkManager, a desktop-neutral service that seamlessly manages connections. It leverages D-Bus and HAL to provide a standardized programming interface through which higher-level applications can interact with network configuration and expose networking functionality to the end user. NetworkManager has largely eliminated the need for managing network configuration through text files or the command line in all but a few corner cases.
KDE and GNOME both have their own custom graphical frontend components for NetworkManager that make it easy for users to connect to wireless networks and perform other network-related configuration tasks. KDE uses the KNetworkManager component, which was in dire need of a refresh for KDE 4.
KDE contributor Sebastian Kügler is working on a new Plasma-based front-end that takes advantage of the NetworkManager support in Solid, KDE's hardware abstraction layer. The latest prototype, which is available from KDE's version control system, has a lot of potential.
In a blog entry about the new plasmoid, Kügler discusses the various usability lessons that he learned from testing WiFi configuration tools on other platforms, including Maemo, an iPod Touch, Windows, and the GNOME NetworkManager panel applet. He attempted to draw on the best elements of those while avoiding their mistakes.
"So one of my personal goals is to not make all those mistakes in the interface for networkmanager in KDE4. We're not there yet, but progressing OK," he wrote. "It is in no way near release quality yet, more like an early Alpha. We're trying to have a first working version out within the next couple of months, hopefully in time for the distros that ship in spring."
It won't be included in KDE 4.2, he says, but he hopes that it will be ready for KDE 4.3.
Source: Ryan Paul