Blog Post

Take off and land safely with KDE

Oh lord that was corny. Any ways, it isn’t about taking off and landing safely, but it is about saving some of that important Lithium Ion juice while you are in flight. That’s right, I have hacked together a little system tray applet that will allow you to enable or disable the power of your wireless devices such as WiFi and Bluetooth. In the future 3G support will (hopefully) be included as well as function key support, but since we are approaching a Feature Freeze with Karmic, we had to get something in right away, and then work out the kinks before release. At first it was designed to be used with the Kubuntu Netbook Edition which we are planning on providing a preview release for Karmic. Then after working on it, it seemed to work fine for laptops just as well. D’uh, it uses Wireless Tools and BlueZ, so of course it would work.

Right now it has only been tested with Dell hardware. I know for a fact it will not work with the Asus eeePC due to their silly wireless drivers. Because of that, I will probably end up either borrowing code from eee-controls or eee-applet or just using those and porting them for use in this applet.

As this project goes on, and updates are added, I will keep you informed. It will be put in the repos just as soon as it passes its packaging review.

And now for some pics:

KDE Airplane Mode with no devices (Tooltip)

KDE Aiplane Mode with devices (Tooltip)

KDE Airplane Mode with devices (Menu)

KDE Airplane Mode popup to enable/disable airplane mode

Note that this application is buggy and has been known to eat 2 children and the neighbors cat. What you see might not be what you get. There will definitely be some more changes and updates coming to the application as well as the GUI.

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  • Markus

    Yes/No buttons are evil (usability-wise). Rename them to “Turn off wireless” and “Keep wireless active” or sth. like that.

    Why are both — this new Network Management plasmoid with ugly icon and KNetworkManager4 — developed? Seems like redundancy to me. Why don’t you and Will Stephenson not work together on one solution?

    As this blog posting is under “Kubuntu” and not “KDE”, I suppose this feature is exclusive to Kubuntu, right?

  • Great feature. Might I suggest changing the name to something that doesn’t require so much explanation to figure out what it is? Rather than “Enable Airplane Mode” what about “Turn off wireless devices” or something like that? More people would know what a wireless device is than what “airplane mode” is, especially given that the most common usage for this would be people *not* on an airplane just turning off wireless to save some battery life.

    Anyway, many thanks for working on this. There’s been a bunch of times I couldn’t use my laptop on the plane because I couldn’t remember the terminal command to do this. A simple plasmoid that does it would be ace!

  • @Markus – Good idea on the buttons. The wifi icon I am using is hopefully only temporary. As for the Network Mangler stuff, I haven’t been following it and I am probably just as annoyed as you are with it 🙂 I forgot to tag it as KDE. When it is ready for the wild I will more than likely push it to extragear. Right now it is rather hackish at best and needed something to upload prior to feature freeze, so we can get it now and work out the bugs before release.

    @Bugsbane – RE: Markus and the buttons, thanks!

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  • Markus

    Hey, maybe you want to mark as “In Progress” 🙂

  • Manuel Schmid

    Great work, but I wonder if a new applet is really needed, as the panel space is limited and the more applets there are, the more cluttered the UI becomes. So maybe this could find a place in the network manager or power manager applet. I hope this will get into stardard KDE, so more people can benefit from it.

  • @Markus – this will probably not really fix the issues listed in the brainstorm topic, as I would like to see it in Network Mangler or the power manager as Manuel brought up.

    @Manuel – ya, I would like to get it in there eventually, but right now this is nothing more than a temporary fix, but of course this could change in the future. Plans are to eventually get it into KDE, probably 4.4 time frame.

  • @Markus: I have replaced the Network Management plasmoid at cmake time with a dummy that only displays an ugly icon and a tooltip directing people to KNetworkManager for the time being, because the Network Management plasmoid UI is taking longer to finish than planned for a variety of reasons.

    Since the sprint in Oslo in June we have reorganised the codebase so that 90% of the code is shared between Network Management (plasmoid) and knetworkmanager. Only the tray applet/plasmoid part of the UI is not shared.

    @nixternal: Respectfully: Argh, why are you doing this? We have shared upstream code for this. If you followed what me, sebas, and several others are working on instead of just being annoyed with the old code, you’d know that KNetworkManager has a ‘Enable wireless’ toggle right there in the popup which does exactly what you want – setting Flight Mode on NetworkManager, disabling wireless and (in recent NM versions) bluetooth. If you wanted to make it frequent-flyer-friendly, just change the string and slap an aeroplane icon on the action. And if your applet is not using NetworkManager, how does it work? Is your applet setuid root or how is it poking the drivers to power them down now? Does it use ConsoleKit to prevent users on a second session from disabling the system’s network connection?

  • @Will – I know about the “Enable Wireless” toggle, as I was looking at it recently to see just how it works. As for the Bluetooth portion I didn’t know about that. Like I hopefully stated, this is only a temporary solution until it can be handled elsewhere, and I was for sure if that was going to be NM or Powerdevil. The applet is hackish right now so it could get into the repos prior to tomorrow’s freeze. Plan was to utilize the rfkill switches. Future release(s) would include PolicyKit and ConsoleKit, but seeing as it is planned for NM, I just may junk it, though that depends on how soon we can get the new NM stuff up and working in the repos. And for the record, I didn’t know you guys did the little tooltip notification, I thought it was us to be honest (it did seem like a typical hackish Kubuntu thing during development) 🙂

  • Karmic is shipping with NM trunk so I believe it has the bluetooth support. All NM versions since 0.6 at least have wireless flight mode.

    Making it work on a broad range of machines via the rfkill interfaces exposed by the drivers is a minefield of non-standardised implementations – leave this fun to NetworkManager.

    If your freeze is tomorrow I would make sure the dummy Network Management plasmoid is the hell off the distro and make sure you have trunk KNetworkManager from playground packaged instead. I have had a number of BRs recently from Kubuntu users whose latest version was 1002000something which is OLD. If Kubuntu don’t take care of this you will be guaranteeing Karmic and KDE a lot of unnecessary “WTF NetworkManager on KDE” responses. And I’ll get it right on openSUSE 11.2 😛

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  • nice info, i will try it.
    last month i install Kubuntu jaunty on my laptop but now i use ubuntu 🙂

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