First-born second-favourites: Multiple network config utilities on Arch Linux

So here’s something that took me an embarrassingly long to time figure out: (Arch) Linux doesn’t like it when you have multiple network configuration utilities set to connect you to a network. In my case, a wireless network. In fact, the same wireless network for both utilities.


Okay, okay, it is pretty obvious that’s a silly thing to do when put it like that. But I didn’t realise I had two running. You see, I had both netctl (the default utility, used in my initial setup) and NetworkManager (installed later, for GUI use with Gnome). With that I inadvertently created a race condition that, if netctl won (it often would), resulted in no WiFi connection and NetworkManager throwing “bad password” dialogues at me until I was blue in the face. If NetworkManager won, then hooray (!) my connection worked great – but it only won every fourth-sixth-twelfth reboot. Now the output of dmesg -w and other logs didn’t make the conflict clear and it didn’t seem to present when I initially set the system up (perhaps netctl or something was updated to make it faster) – only whilst reading the Arch Linux’s netctl wiki page after too many hours in “read everything troubleshooting” mode did it occur to me I had set two things to the same task.

My solution? Easy as hard-to-spot pie, really: disable the network profile that netctl had saved (that is, I ran netctl disable profile) so it wouldn’t throw a fuss about being the first-born but second-favourite.

I wanted a picture so I image-searched "netctl" and this is what happened.

I wanted a picture so I image-searched “netctl” and this is what happened.

Sorry netctl, but there are some things I like to see GUI notifications of and you just don’t do that as nicely as NetworkManager. Of course, you’re still there so you’ll have my back if NetworkManager or Gnome or X bugger up, and I love you for that (read: I’ll string you along until I need you, style o’ fing).

And then "NetworkManager" 'cause that seemed fair.

And then “NetworkManager” ’cause that seemed fair.

I thought to myself: I’ll do a really long title for no particular reason at all, and now you have this. You’re welcome? :D