Tag Archives: LXNM

Recent Development Status of LXNM

LXNM (Lightweight Network Manager) is working now after a long time for development. If you often check the news of SVN, you can notice that the next generation of LXNM has already supported wireless connection setting, also it has many feature as old version of LXNM. The new implementation and protocol defination seems to work well at least there is no bug of old version of LXDE had that no Access Point was scanned always.

Here is some screenshots to show you current LXNM wireless support:

As a network manager, wireless is the basic feature, but only the feature is not enough for new internet devices. To be a full function network connection utility, it must provide most popular methods of internet connection service something’s like 3G(HSPDA), PPPoE, dial…etc. And also we can expect WiMAX will be coming soon, so supporting WiMAX maybe important and necessary in the feature as well.

So far most network connections methods need to use PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) to make connection, so we must try to focus on how’s PPP working and how to integrate PPP stuffs with our program. Fortunately, Most of operating system was using pppd to handle the ppp connections, it seems to be a standard we can consider. If we know how to get pppd immediate status, it will be easy to integrate PPP with our utility for us.

Regarding pppd implementation, it uses a tdb(samba database) to store current connection information(IP, interface, deivce, gateway, dns…etc) in system folder as root. Thus we need to read the file to get network status and the relationship between modem(eg, 3G modem, general modem) and network interface(eg, ppp0, ppp1…). Because of pppd is a user-space implementation as well as it doesn’t have library to provide serial APIs to let us be easy to operate its own stuffs, LXNM must direct open the tdb file. The problem is that pppd will update the tdb file anytime, it is possible that database be modified when LXNM is just reading the file. When it is happened, LXNM will get incorrect information or access failed to cause crazy crash. For solving this bug, we do some to check more information details which is from tdb. After some hard works, right now the issue was solved already.

Besides, the 3G support which is most important feature people concern. LXNM will try to use AT command to control 3G (HSDPA) modem to implement the connection handler, it can provide more information(ISP, Service Location, current area…etc) for your SIM Card with AT command. Some developers suggest us to research the implementation of Modem Manager Project for helping development.

Now we are working on this part which is that dialing with 3G modem, but there were also some weird problems we got. More details about those issues will be explained at blog next time. :-)

LXNM current status and the plan in the future

Next generation of LXNM (Lightweight Network Manager) is still under development right now, You guys can see the prototype which was implemented in SVN already. In the future, LXNM will provide some programs includes lxnm daemon, utility which is a command line program to make control of all kind of networking devices be unified into only one utility, a LXPanel plugin and a standalone applet for running without LXPanel.

So the project will has three parts to be maintained:
1. lxnm (LXNM Daemon and command line utility – lxnetctl)
2. lxpanel-netstat (LXPanel plugin)
3. lxnm-applet (standalone applet)

For the current version in SVN, lxnm can be working now, we can using lxnetctl utility to connect to lxnm daemon to control our networking devices and get informations include ethernet and wireless interface.

BTW, I am now working on lxnm-applet to implement a graphical LXNM client to display and control network devices.

Besides, in the future, LXNM will provide a library to make easy to write a new LXNM client(eg, lxnm-applet) for developer.

LXNM Will Bring Back to Life

So far LXNM(Network Manager of LXDE) was in prototype, LXDE team was just trying to implement a usable network utility. In the beginning, it was expected be enough to work instead of Network Manager of GNOME. But even today, most of people still uses LXDE desktop environment without LXNM due to it is so buggy and poor. Also LXNM has no more improvements in the past, it seems to die for a long time.

It is the truth that LXNM will bring back to life, LXDE team have tried to restart this project and plan on working to implement new architecture of LXNM. Here is a diagram of new structure for next version of LXNM:

LXNM Structure

In principle LXNM will keep original features and most of architecture, but for more requirements of networking device operations, it will be modified or re-designed some parts of that, For communication of Client/Server, LXNM protocol will be re-defined to support more features that something’s just like response of networking status, it means that in the future user can get more complete informations of networking in a moment, and also fixed a critical bug that netstat plugin of LXPanele cannot found out any wireless Access Point as non-root.

For easy to migrate to other platform which is other linux distribution or other Unix-like operating system, LXNM still keep script-based method to handle network device control. Considering that efficiency issue, LXNM will provide a new way to implement that direct call system call to operate network device for each operating system in C language without any scripts, this feature needs more time to be done due to it’s harder and more complicated than script-based method.

With the Google Summer of Code 2009, LXNM is restarting right now. We expect that LXNM will have a great usable version after three month in the future.