How to Configure Networking in GNOME

Using the Linux GNOME network manager

In the past, configuring networking in Linux required the use of the terminal and a few commands. You don't need to open a terminal window to configure a network connection in GNOME any longer. Using the Network Manager graphical user interface is easy for most users.

These instructions use GNOME 3.32.0 on a beta release of Ubuntu 19.04 (which was officially released March 2019). It doesn't matter what version of GNOME you use (so long as it is fairly recent), as the Network Manager functions similarly across releases.

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, through 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, dynamic addresses are best (unless you have a specific need for a static address).

Why use a static IP address? When you want to share folders from one machine to another, this is easier when you know the IP address of your machine and control the IP address. You don't want to 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.

This information assumes you are working with a wired connection. When you work with a wireless connection, you only need to modify the type of connection you edit (wireless, instead of wired). This also assumes you connect using a static IP address.

Open the GNOME Network Settings

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

  1. From the GNOME Desktop, select the notification tray in the upper-right corner.

    Screenshot of the GNOME System Tray.
  2. From the pop-up menu, choose Wired Connected.

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

    Sceenshot of the Wired Settings entry.

The Network Settings window opens, and you are almost ready to configure networking via the Network Manager.

Configure Your Network Connection

From 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. Select the gear icon associated with that network to reveal the configuration options.

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

    Screenshot of the Network Manager.
  3. Select Manual.

    Screenshot of selecting the Manual address option.
  4. In the Addresses section, enter 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 toggle switch to the off position, then enter the DNS addresses you want to use (separated by a comma).

    DNS settings in Gnome
  6. Select Apply.

Restart the Network Manager

At this point, the Network Manager window closes, and you are returned to the Network Settings window. If you click the gear icon (associated with the wired connection), your IP address doesn't reflect the newly configured settings because the Network Manager must be restarted.

To make that change take effect:

  1. Go to the Network Settings window.

  2. Select the On/Off toggle switch (associated with Wired Connected) to turn it to the Off position.

    Connected on/off slider
  3. Turn the On/Off toggle switch to the On position.

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

Screenshot of the new IP address in use.