Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NetworkManager is in @core but don't fret ....

Recently there was a not so announced change to Fedora's @core and that is that NetworkManager is now a part of it. This initially will cause the traditional *nix admins to have a moment of "WTF?" but bear with me as I also had this reaction but I've slept on it and it clearly has yet to kill me. Lets address a couple things in a light hearted nature of the angry mob that is the internet:


    Well the motivation was simple, there was a bug and it was nasty and decisions needed making. One was made and at first you might not be on board with it, or you might never, but at face value its not really that bad since NetworkManager has made large stride in its capability and I think a large majority of previous concerns are no longer valid. The only outstanding issue that I've seen brought up is the need for multiple static route tables and if you're configuration is that advanced I imagine a "systemctl disable NetworkManager.service && chkconfig network on" is not going to cause you much pain and despair..... on to more rage!!! :)


   The first complaint I've heard so far is that the configuration methods from the days of lore utilizing the classic "network" utility powered by our favorite set of scripts will be no more. Alas! The wonderful and whimsical NetworkManager developers have kept this interest in mind and there is /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf (which is extremely well documented in 'man 5 NetworkManager.conf') in which we see the line "plugins=ifcfg-rh" by default. What's this little gem mean? Well I'll quote the man page because I'm lazy and don't like rewriting what's already really well written:

    plugin  is used on the Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribu-
    tions to read and write configuration from the standard /etc/syscon-
    fig/network-scripts/ifcfg-*  files.   It  currently supports reading
    wired, WiFi, and 802.1x connections, but does not yet support  read-
    ing or writing mobile broadband, PPPoE, or VPN connections. To allow
    reading and writing of these add keyfile plugin to  your  configura-
    tion as well.


    I'm glad you asked. There is a nice little document located in /usr/share/doc/initscripts-*/ entitled sysconfig.txt that has been a life saver for me and if you weren't aware of this document I suggest you get familiar because it is full of extremely valuable information, but I digress. If you open this file and navigate to the section tagged 'NM_CONTROLLED' you will see the following:

      If set to 'no', NetworkManager will ignore this connection/device.
      Defaults to 'yes'.

What does this mean? Well ... if you did a fresh install, chances are your interfaces already have this but if you've got a machine that's been upgrading through the timeline to this point, if you just add that little line and fire up NetworkManager it will apply your settings for you. Magic! I know, pretty cool huh? :)

_____________________________ <--- the line where joking stops

In all seriousness, this is a change that is bound to ruffle some feathers but the reality is that with the pace in which Fedora moves it is sometimes best to take the path of least resistance in order to solve a problem and I think that's what's been done here. If there are any real concerns (I mean really valid concerns and not just "I hate change") then I like to believe that the greater community would be willing to entertain them in the proper channels of communication and if necessary then decisions made to fix issues can be altered/modified as needed to suite the needs of the project. I think we as faithful members of the community like to knee jerk react a little too much and I'm 100% guilty of this myself, but I think if we spend some time actually processing the scenarios, possible outcomes and attempt to include as many factors as possible we can see that inclusions of things like NetworkManager into @core aren't there just to add some packages for kicks but that there's actual valid reason. Fedora doesn't change for the sake of change, its changing to make a better project and platform for all to enjoy, and in this case its about squashing bugs so our experience is more pleasant other times it about innovation.... in the end, horray for another closed bug! :)

Happy hacking,


Robert said...


I'm an editor at

Would you mind if I translated this blog post for (properly attributed) publication on

Robert Kratky

Spider said...

Does this mean that NetworkManager now covers the more advanced features, like Bridges, Aliases and 802.11q VLAN?

Previously, NM has had a bad tendency to do bad things even when NM_CONTROLLED flag is set (Why would that even be needed when NM doesn't even understand the configuration? Bridges/VLAN again)