Just touching on the question of Network Manager vs wicd, put me down as a vote for wicd. What I find is that for my purposes (wifi with or without encryption) wicd always seems to work, whereas there are sometimes problems with NM. I find for example that NM will sometimes dash off and select any old access point it can get hold of rather than the one I want. Then I have wrestle with it to drop its choice and accept mine. There was an issue with one distro where NM would not work at all with WPA2, and I wound up having to kill it and use wpa_supplicant. In general NM is good when it works but can be a pest when there is some problem - partly because it is so easy to use, it also seems to be hard to fix.