In struggling to learn how to connect to a wireless network, I found the UI of Network-Manager a bit cumbersome and unfriendly. When you first click on it, you are presented with a list of wireless stations. If you click on one of those (and you have never connected to it before), a window pops up that does not allow WPA connections. To use WPA, you have to click (instead) on the "Connect to Other Wireless Network" link, in which another window will pop up that *will* allow WPA connections. Now, why the different windows? And, now I have to fill in the SSID of the access point, which could be automatically filled-in if this menu came up when I clicked on the network in the first case. Don't get me wrong-- I think Network-Manager is great-- Linux has come a long way, baby! But that doesn't mean we can't make it better. I think a *single* window with everything you need would be great. Show me my wired connection (and use that if available), and show me all of the past wireless connections that I have made plus all of the new ones. I should be able to delete an old connection that I know I will never use again. Show me the signal strength bar-- (blank for "not there", and if there *is* a signal, then a red-to-yellow-to-green signal strength bar. There should be a lock symbol if the network requires a key, and I should be able to click on that lock symbol, and get a dialog that will allow me to change the key (regardless if the station is in range or not). There should be a click-box for "connect automatically", (and of course this click-box would by default not be checked so that "connect manually" would be the norm). I should be able to arrange the order of the networks, so I will get the one I am expecting while roaming about the building. There should be a click-box for "allow connections to other user's machines" (or "allow ad-hoc" if you like to confuse newbies) so that other user's machines will show up in the list of available connections-- but "access points only" (or "infrastructure only" if you like to confuse newbies) would be the default. (If they *do* click the "allow other nodes", there should be a security warning). There should be a click-box for "allow roaming", and if clicked, it should allow you to type in a x.x% delta value (that must be exceed before moving to the "better" connection). If the user's WiFi interface and/or driver doesn't allow WEP and/or WPA, there should be an error message telling the user this when they try to select encryption (so they don't waste their time trying to make WEP and/or WPA work). You should be able to set up a "default TCP/IP" configuration, but this could be overridden for each connection. (Static or DHCP IP Address, static or DHCP DNS servers, and static network mask and gateway if not DHCP). There should be a separate default for the wired connection, as this is usually a controlled environment while the wireless connections are usually an uncontrolled environment-- so they need different defaults. There should be help (like a button or something) that would help the user with some security settings-- firewalls, packet filters, etc. Having a separate network control in the main menu (that "fights for dominance" with Network-Manager) is not very friendly. There should be exactly *one* place to go to configure networks. (I would even put the modem configuration on the Network-Manager window). The "other" network configuration tool should not even be loaded at all-- it is just a source of confusion IMHO.
And now for another enhancement-- How about a button for "find WiFi access point"-- this could be a data-base that is updated whenever you are on-line. You should be able to enter a zip-code, or address/city/state (or province or region or ??), and then the access points in that area would be listed (and if they are "free" or subscription services). That would be *killer*-- no one else is doing that in a Linux distribution.
There could also be a data-base for free ISP and BBS numbers that you could dial into if you were in a strange city. Some of these will at least allow emails. Some even allow free Internet surfing. This data-base could also be automatically updated when you are on-line.
Well, that's a lot of stuff, and if even a few of these things are implemented, it will make Network-Manager the *best* network configuration tool available-- regardless of the O/S you are using.