Sunday, October 10, 2010

NetworkManager Sucks

Do a Google on the above search term, and you get over 20,000 results. NetworkManager is yet another attempt by the inept Linux desktop crew to make the Linux desktop look Windows-ish, and is as Fail as you might imagine anything desktop-ish from that gang. I mean, c'mon. We're still talking about an OS that cannot dynamically reconfigure its desktop when you plug an external monitor into your laptop, something that both Windows 7 and MacOS have absolutely no problem with. You expect them to get something as simple as a network manager correct? Uhm, no.

Stuck in Red Hat Enterprise Linux server-land for so many years, I didn't have to deal with NetworkManager. But now I'm doing some work with kvm/qemu which requires me to have the latest and greatest kvm/qemu, which requires me to get bleeding edge on my Linux distribution because mismatches between your kernel version and the userland tools can cause some weird issues, like seemingly random kernel panics where old tools don't fill out new fields and system calls end up randomly crashing (this should never happen, BTW, the kernel should check all inputs and reject any calls that would result in a kernel panic, but I have first-hand proof that this is happening). And bleeding edge either Ubuntu or Fedora means you get to deal with NetworkManager.

By and large folks who have a single network card plus a single WiFi adapter in their Linux box and don't intend to do anything unusual will have no problems with NetworkManager. But I wanted to set up a configuration that was unusual. My Linux server has two gigabit NIC's in it. One goes out to the corporate network. I wanted the other to be a direct connection to the Ethernet port on my Macbook Pro, and then have the two be bridged so it also appears I'm directly on the corporate network. I also wanted to set up a private non-routed VLAN tied to the specific network port between my Macbook Pro and the Linux server so I could set up a private network for file sharing between the two systems -- it's still far more pleasant to do editing, email, word processing, etc. on the Mac and use the Linux box as just a big bucket of bytes. Netatalk is not perfect but works "good enough" for this particular application.

All of this is functionality that Red Hat Enterprise Linux had implemented correctly by RHEL4 days (I know that because I backported most of the RHEL4 stuff to RHEL3 to get all of this functionality working in RHEL3 back in the old days for the Resilience firewalls). That is, we're talking about things that have worked correctly for over six years. Unless -- unless you're using a system that has its network cards managed by NetworkManager, at which point you're SOL unless you disable NetworkManager, because the system absolutely refuses to bring up bridges and vlans if you have NetworkManager enabled.

So my first inclination was to simply take an axe to NetworkManager and go back to the old way of doing things, which as I point out has been working for years. That is, "rpm -e NetworkManager". At which point I find out that half of bloody Gnome seems to have a dependency upon NetworkManager, albeit two dependencies removed, and while Gnome is evil it's the lesser of two evils (hmm, sounds like politics there, eh?). So, I settled for the simple way of disabling it:

  • # chkconfig NetworkManager off
  • # service NetworkManager stop
At that point I no longer have any networks configured other than localhost (eep!), so then I get to set up the bridging and VLAN by hand in the /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts files and bring everything up (GUI tools? Linux penguins don't need no freepin' GUI tools, we just cat - >somefile when we want to configure Linux ;-). But I'll talk about that in my next post.



  1. NetworkManager still sucks in 2013

  2. Yeppers. Three years later, NetworkManager *still* can't configure and bring up bridges, vlans, or bonding. And there are no other GUI tools on Fedora for configuring networking, you have to do it all by hand in /etc/sysconfig. It'd be laughable, if it wasn't so pathetic.

  3. It can't handle a simple password change prompt from a cisco VPN with their vpnc plugin. vpnc itself can. This is just plain incompetence. This trend of Windowsizing Linux has got to stop.

  4. Systemd and NetworkManager makes me hate linux after 10 years

  5. Thank you! Systemd and NetworkManager have completely killed my taste for Linux. I swear its a running joke on which Linux group can come up with the most complicated, bloated, obscure, unnecessary program to take over the most simplistic of tasks.

  6. still sucks in 2016....cannot get a standard vpn connection to work in Fedora 23