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How To Prioritize Available Wireless Networks in Ubuntu with Network Manager

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In the world of wireless networking on Ubuntu, prioritizing your preferred networks can be a game-changer. It ensures that your system automatically connects to the most preferred network when multiple known networks are available. This article will guide you on how to prioritize available wireless networks in Ubuntu using the Network Manager.

Quick Answer

To prioritize available wireless networks in Ubuntu with Network Manager, you can use tools like nmcli, plasma-nm, nm-connection-editor, or WiFi Radar. Each tool offers different methods of operation, allowing you to rank your known networks based on your preferences. By setting higher priorities for your preferred networks, Ubuntu will automatically connect to them when they are available.

Understanding Network Prioritization

Network prioritization is a feature that allows you to rank your known networks based on your preferences. The network with the highest priority will be the first one your system tries to connect to. If it’s unavailable, the system will try the next one on the list, and so on.

Tools for Network Prioritization in Ubuntu

There are several tools available for managing network priorities in Ubuntu, including nmcli, plasma-nm, nm-connection-editor, and WiFi Radar. Each tool has its unique features and methods of operation. Let’s delve into each of them.

Using nmcli (NetworkManager Command Line Interface)

nmcli is a command-line interface for managing NetworkManager and reporting network status. It can be used to create, display, edit, delete, activate, and deactivate network connections, as well as control and display network device status.

To list the current priorities of known networks, open the terminal and run the following command:

nmcli -f autoconnect-priority,name c

The -f option specifies the fields to be displayed, in this case, autoconnect-priority and name.

To set a higher priority for a specific network, use the following command:

nmcli connection modify "NETWORK_NAME" connection.autoconnect-priority PRIORITY_NUMBER

Replace “NETWORK_NAME” with the name of your network and “PRIORITY_NUMBER” with the desired priority value. Higher numbers indicate higher priority.

Using plasma-nm (KDE NetworkManager client)

plasma-nm is a KDE client for NetworkManager. It’s not limited to KDE and can be used with any desktop environment.

Install plasma-nm by running the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install plasma-nm

Launch plasma-nm by running the following command:

kde5-nm-connection-editor

To modify the priority of a network, double-click on the network, go to the “General Configuration” tab, and change the “Priority” value.

Using nm-connection-editor (GNOME’s old network control panel)

nm-connection-editor is the old network control panel for GNOME. It can be used to manage network priorities as follows:

Open the network connections editor by running the following command in the terminal:

nm-connection-editor

Select a WiFi network, click “Edit,” go to the “General” tab, and adjust the “Connection Priority for Auto Activation” using the – / + buttons.

Using WiFi Radar

WiFi Radar is a Python/PyGTK2 utility for managing WiFi profiles. It allows you to create profiles for your preferred networks and arrange their priority by dragging and dropping.

Install WiFi Radar by running the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install wifi-radar

Launch WiFi Radar by running the following command:

sudo wifi-radar

Please note that WiFi Radar is not integrated with NetworkManager and may have some limitations and potential security risks.

Conclusion

Managing the priority of available wireless networks in Ubuntu can be done using various tools like nmcli, plasma-nm, nm-connection-editor, and WiFi Radar. Each tool has its own advantages and limitations, so choose the one that suits your needs and preferences. Remember, the goal is to ensure that your system connects to your most preferred network when multiple known networks are available. Happy networking!

Can I prioritize both wired and wireless networks using these tools?

No, these tools are specifically designed for managing the priorities of wireless networks only. Wired networks typically have a higher priority by default.

Will changing the priority of a network affect its connection speed?

No, changing the priority of a network will not directly affect its connection speed. The priority determines the order in which your system attempts to connect to available networks, but it does not impact the actual speed or performance of the network.

Will prioritizing a network automatically disconnect me from other networks?

No, prioritizing a network will not automatically disconnect you from other networks. It simply determines the preferred network your system will try to connect to first. If the preferred network is not available, your system will then attempt to connect to other known networks based on their priorities.

Can I prioritize networks based on signal strength?

No, the tools mentioned in this article do not have a built-in feature to prioritize networks based on signal strength. The prioritization is based on the user-defined priority values assigned to each network.

Will prioritizing networks improve my overall network performance?

Prioritizing networks will not directly improve your overall network performance. However, it can help ensure that your system connects to your preferred network when multiple known networks are available, which may indirectly enhance your user experience. Network performance depends on various factors such as signal strength, bandwidth, and network congestion.

Can I use these tools to forget or delete a network?

Yes, you can use these tools to delete or forget a network. The exact method may vary depending on the tool you are using. For example, in nmcli, you can use the nmcli connection delete "NETWORK_NAME" command to delete a network, and in plasma-nm or nm-connection-editor, you can select the network and click on the "Delete" or "Forget" button.

Will changing the network priority affect the automatic connection on startup?

Yes, changing the network priority can affect the automatic connection on startup. If a network with a higher priority is available, your system will try to connect to it first. However, if the preferred network is not available, your system may automatically connect to the next available network based on its priority.

Can I prioritize networks on other Linux distributions?

The tools mentioned in this article, such as nmcli, plasma-nm, and nm-connection-editor, are primarily designed for Ubuntu and may not be available or have the same functionality on other Linux distributions. However, other distributions may have their own tools or methods for managing network priorities. It’s best to consult the documentation or community support specific to your Linux distribution.

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