How to Configure Networking in Cinnamon

Learn how to use Cinnamon Network Manager

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The Cinnamon desktop is the default environment for Linux Mint. Using it, especially when you need to configure a network connection, is pretty straightforward.

Which Cinnamon?

For this howto, we’ll be using Linux Mint 19.1 with Cinnamon 4.0.10.

DHCP vs. Static Addresses

Before we get into the actual network configuration, you need to understand the difference between two different types of network addresses: Static and Dynamic. A static network address is an address, manually configured, that never changes (unless you make the change). A dynamic address, on the other hand, is an address that is automatically assigned to your desktop machine via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) at your ISP or host server. For home usage, dynamic addresses are typically the default (and best) choice.

There are, however, times when you might want to use a static IP address. Say you want to be able to share folders from one machine to another, or you want to be able to remotely log into the desktop via Secure Shell (SSH). This is made much easier when you not only know the IP address of your machine, but control said IP address. If you opt for a dynamic address you will have to change those shared connections, in the event your router assigns your desktop machine a new IP address. Having a static IP address circumvents this issue.

With that said, how do you configure networking from within the Cinnamon desktop environment? Let’s find out.

Accessing the Cinnamon Network Manager

The first thing to do is open the Cinnamon Network Manager. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. From the desktop, click on the network icon in the system tray, to reveal the network popup menu.

    Screenshot of the Network icon on the Cinnamon desktop.
  2. From the network popup, click Network Connections.

    Screenshot of the Cinnamon Desktop Network popup menu.
  3. The Network Connections application will open.

Configuring a Static IP Address

Next we’ll configure the network connection to use a static IP address (instead of the default DHCP address). To make this change, follow these steps:

  1. From within the Network Connections window, select Wired connection 1 and then click the Gear icon.

    Screenshot of the Network Connections window.
  2. In the Edit Wired connection 1 window, click the IPv4 Settings tab.

  3. Select Manual from the Method drop-down.

    Screenshot of selecting the Manual mode from the Method drop-down.
  4. Click Add.

  5. Type the Address (IP address), Netmask (typically 255.255.255.0), and Gateway (typically the IP address of your router) you want to assign to the computer.

    Screenshot of entering the network address information.
  6. Type the static DNS servers you’d like to use (optional), separated by a comma.

    Screenshot of configuring static DNS servers.
  7. Click Save.

A Word On IP Addresses

If you’ve never configured a static IP address, know that the address you configure has to be on the same address scheme as your router. So if your router’s IP address is 192.168.1.1, then you have to use an IP address such as 192.168.1.2. You also must make sure the IP address you want to configure isn’t already in use. A good way to find that out is to run the ping command on the address in question. Open a terminal window and issue a command like ping 192.168.1.2. If the command comes back saying Destination host unreachable, that address is safe to use.

A Word on DNS

DNS stands for Dynamic Name Service and is responsible for translating URLs into IP addresses that the external network can use. Without DNS, you’d have to memorize IP addresses, instead of URLs. So instead of typing google.com, you’d have to know the IP address for that address (which might be 64.233.185.139). You can opt to not configure static DNS addresses. If you don’t, your computer will get its DNS from the router that would have served up its IP address.

Enabling the New Address

After configuring the new address, your desktop machine will still use the original (DHCP) address. There are two ways to have your desktop make use of the new address, via the GUI. The first is to reboot the machine.  A reboot, however, is not necessary. A much faster way to apply the new address is to disable and re-enable networking. Here’s how:

  1. From the desktop, click to open the Network popup.

    Screenshot of the Network icon on the Cinnamon desktop.
  2. Click the Wired slider from the On to the Off position.

    Screenshot of disabling the network connection.
  3. Click the Wired slider back to the On position.

    Screenshot of enabling the network connection.
  4. Enjoy that new static IP address.

Congratulations, your new static IP address is in effect and won’t change until you go through this same process again (and assign a different address).