2013-12-08

Easy Connect Without Auto Connect

As a Network & System Administrator you deal with a lot of different networks.  Increasingly even a single geographic spot has multiple networks - a physical ethernet network, a 'trusted' wireless network with strong AAA, a 'guest' network with a simple shared secret, and possibly a management vLAN running behind the innermost ring of firewalls [allowing access to Hypervisors, SAN administrative interfaces, climate control systems, etc...].  GNOME's excellent network manager makes it simple to have many network profiles and manage all the networks you may connect to through various means [physical ethernet, wireless, VPN, ...]. But
GNOME's gnome-session-properties tool.
one frustration is that it will usually 'default' to a network if the automatically-connect option in the network manager profile has been selected. Which I suppose is a feature, not a bug; but invariably that will be the wrong network for what you need to do that day. Then you're applications have already started, your browser has detected it's proxy settings, and you are on the wrong network.  Argh!
Facing this dilemma when working for a couple days on a nest of layered networks an obvious solution presented itself.  I simply set all networks to not connect automatically.  Simple - yet annoying.  Because now every time I login I have to the GNOME Control Center's Network tool and select a network.  That step gets old when you have to do it almost every time you login.  But a simple solution to that is also available - setup the Network tool to launch upon login.
GNOME's Network Control Center tool.
Applications can be added to the "Startup Programs" list using the gnome-session-properties tool.  Select the "Startup Programs" tab (a very clever name!) and click "Add".  I added a "GNOME Control Center: Network" entry which runs "gnome-control-center network".  That starts the GNOME Control Center's Network tool every time I log in - so the dialog is presented and I can easily select the network, if any, that I need to connect to. If I do not need to connect to any network I can just dismiss the dialog.
Now nothing gets connected automatically but connecting, if desired, is only a click or two.

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