installment of this series helped you enable Windows
sharing (SMB) and configure your Workgroup and Computer Name values
in Ubuntu. Part 2 will give you a tour of the networking
interfaces in Ubuntu; which are surprisingly somewhat similar to
Windows XP. You’ll soon be connecting, checking connection details,
and browsing network computers in the Linux world.
As in any other
present-day operating system (OS), Ubuntu has a network icon on the
main tool bar; as you can see in Figure 1. When you’re connected to
a wireless network, the icon serves as a quick signal strength
indicator. The icon itself shows you signal level with its four
signal bars and hovering over the icon shows you the SSID (or network
name) and signal strength in terms of a percentage.
network icon lets you disable or enable all networking or just
wireless networking. From the drop-down menu you can also access a
shortcut to the Connection Information window which shows you the
details of your network connection, like the speed (or data rate) and
IP and MAC addresses. Additionally, this menu provides a shortcut to
the wireless network manager where you can edit the encryption keys
used for secured networks.
A simple (left) click
of the network icon brings down a different drop-down menu as you can
see in Figure 2. You’ll see a list of the wireless networks
available in your area, along with their signal strength. Networks
secured with encryption will sport an icon just to the left of the
signal strength bar. The radio button of the network you’re
currently connected is marked. To connect to a wireless network,
simply click the network you want.
The menu also gives you
three shortcuts: Connect to Other Wireless Network so you can connect
to non-broadcasted or hidden networks, Create New Wireless Network to
make a computer-to-computer or ad-hoc, Manual Configuration which
takes you to the Network Settings window where you can set a manual
(static) IP address for your network connection and set your
Workgroup or Domain and Computer (Host) Name.
As touched on in the
previous section, you can see your network connection details by
bringing up the Connection Information window. Simply right-click the
network icon and click Connection Information. You’ll
see similar results to what Figure 3 shows, a resemblance to the
Network Connection Status window of Windows XP accessible by
double-clicking the network icon.
The Speed is the
(theoretical) data rate in Mbps, or megabits per second, at which you
are connected to the network. If you have the latest and greatest
wireless gear, 802.11n products, this value should be above 54 Mbps,
while speeds at or below this rate will probably be 802.11g
equipment. If you’re using ancient 802.11b products, however, the
data rate may be hovering at or below 11 Mbps.
The IP Address
field is the address of your computer, or specifically the particular
network adapter you’re using. All the devices and computers on your
network has (or should have) its own unique IP address. This address
helps identify themselves on the network and can be used by users to
manually access shared resources of computers.
The Subnet Mask
is part of what defines the subnet or section of the IP address range
you’re using. You’ll only have to reference this value if you
manually set a static IP address to your computer(s). The Default
Route value is the IP address of your router which you can use to
access its web-based configuration utility.
The last nugget of
information you should be concerned with on the Connection
Information window is the Hardware Address. In most other
utilities and documentation you’ll see this value referred to as
the MAC (Media Access Control) or physical address. You can
essentially compare this to a VIN number of a vehicle or a serial
number of a product. Every networking product has its very own MAC
address and is used for identification purposes. The only time you’ll
probably need to concern yourself with this value when setting up MAC
address filtering on your router, to better secure your wireless
network from intruders that are within range.
Along with being able
to access the Network Settings window by clicking the network icon
and selecting Manual Configuration, you can click System |
Administration | Network. Once the window appears (see Figure 4), in order to make changes, click the Unlock button, enter your account password, and click the Authenticate button.
On the Connections
tab, you can double-click a connection type (to configure its
settings, for instance, its IP address settings to configure a static
address. On the General tab, you can change the Host (or
Computer) Name; however you configure the Domain Name (or Workgroup)
elsewhere, as explained
in part 1. The DNS and Hosts tabs
contain advanced settings you probably don’t need to concern
yourself with right now.
To wrap up the grand
tour of Ubuntu’s networking menus, windows, and settings, take a
look at the Network window, shown in Figure 5. Here you can browse
through the computers and files on your network. You can access this
window by clicking Places and selecting Network, or by
clicking the Network Servers icon when in a File Browser window.
To view files from your
Windows PCs, first double-click on the Windows Network icon.
Then double-click the Workgroup that the computer you desire
is assigned to. Now double-click the computer you want to access,
identified by their Computer Names. Finally, you can browse through
the computer’s shared folders.
next part of this series will show you exactly how to share files and
printers in Ubuntu.
Geier is the Founder and President of Sky-Nets,
Ltd., a Wi-Fi Hotspot Network. He is also the author
of many networking and computing books, including Home
Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley
This article was first published on LinuxPlanet.com.