How to Configure Networking in GNOME

Learn how to use GNOME Network Manager

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You no longer need to open a terminal window to configure a network connection in GNOME. Using the Network Manager graphical user interface is much easier for most users.

Once upon a time, configuring networking in Linux required the use of the terminal and a few commands. This process wasn’t challenging, if you were familiar with the commands. For new users, however, what should have been a simple task was a hair-pulling nightmare.

Luckily, that's no longer true. Here's how it's done.

Which GNOME?

For this howto, we used GNOME 3.32.0, running on a beta release of Ubuntu 19.04 (which will be officially released mid March, 2019). Fortunately, it doesn’t matter what version of GNOME you are using (so long as it is fairly recent), as the Network Manager functions similarly across releases.

Wired Vs. Wireless

This how-to will assume you are working with a wired connection. If you're working with a wireless connection, you will only need to modify the type of connection you edit (Wireless, instead of Wired). This will also assume you want to connect using a static IP address.

Static vs Dynamic

There are two types of network addresses: Static and Dynamic. A static address is an address you configure that never changes (unless you do so manually). A dynamic address is an address that is automatically assigned to your desktop machine, via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and changes, according to how the DHCP device (be it a server or a router) is configured. For home usage, most often Dynamic addresses are best (unless you have a specific need for a static address).

Why use a static IP address? Say you want to be able to share folders from one machine to another. This is made much easier when you not only know the IP address of your machine, but control the IP address. You don’t want to have to, every so often, change those shared connections, because your router gave your desktop machine a new IP address. Having a static IP address circumvents this issue.

How do you make this change? In the GNOME Network Manager.

Opening the GNOME Network Settings

To gain access to the Network Manager, follow these steps:

  1. From the GNOME Desktop, click on the notification tray in the upper right corner.

    Screenshot of the GNOME System Tray.
  2. From the popup menu, click Wired Connected.

    Screenshot of the GNOME System Tray popup.
  3. Click Wired Settings.

    Sceenshot of the Wired Settings entry.
  4. You’re almost there.

You now have the Network Settings window open and are almost ready to configure networking, via the Network Manager.

Configuring Your Network Connection

From within the Network Settings window, you should see your Wired connection listed. Follow these steps to open the Network Manager and configure the network connection:

  1. Click the gear icon associated with that network to reveal the configuration options.

    Screenshot of the GNOME Network Settings window.
  2. In the resulting window, click on the IPv4 tab.

    Screenshot of the Network Manager.
  3. Select Manual.

    Screenshot of selecting the Manual address option.
  4. Click under Address and type the Address (the 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 configuring a static IP address.
  5. If you want to set custom DNS addresses (such as Google’s 8.8.4.4 and 8.8.8.8 or Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1), move the DNS Automatic slider to the off position and type the DNS addresses you want to use (separated by a comma).

    Screenshot of configuring static DNS addresses.
  6. Click Apply.

At this point, the Network Manager window will dismiss and you should find yourself back at the Network Settings window. If you click the gear icon (associated with the Wired connection), you’re IP address still does not reflect the newly configured settings. Why? Because the Network Manager has to be restarted. How do you make that change take effect? Simple:

  1. Go back to the Network Settings window.

  2. Click the On/Off slider (associated with Wired Connected) until it’s in the Off position.

    Screenshot of the Wired Connected On/Off slider.
  3. Click the On/Off slider back to the on position.

Your network connection should now reflect the IP address you’ve configured. To make sure, click on the Gear icon (associated with Wired Connected, in the Network Settings window), and you should see the new address listed under IPv4 Address.

Screenshot of the new IP address in use.