Wireless network does not auto-reconnect in KDE

Updated: January 7, 2022

Here's an interesting, annoying little problem for you. Say you run a Linux machine, with the Plasma desktop as your UI of choice. You connect to a Wireless network, no sweat. But then, on reboot you discover that your system will not reconnect. The password is fine, and if you manually initiate the connection, everything works. Similarly, when you wake your machine (laptop) from sleep, there is no automatic reconnection to the access point. Manually, no problem.

I discovered this issue in MX Linux MX-21 KDE recently. This is not something I've faced before, and I found this to be an unnecessary hurdle in an otherwise truly fine testing session. So I started looking through the system menus, and I soon found a rather simple, almost innocent and thus infuriating fix to this problem. Let's see what gives.

Teaser

Solution

Open System Settings > Network > Connections, or right-click on the Wireless icon in the system tray, and open the Settings menu. Alternatively, expand the Wireless tool, and click on the Settings toggle in the top-right corner. Any of these will work.

Select the Wireless network that's not auto-connecting, and then in the right pane, click on the General configuration tab. Here, there will be several checkboxes. First, Connect with priority. This should already be selected. Let it be. Second, All users may connect to this network.

Most likely, this isn't selected. The reason is, your distro is probably not using the KDE Wallet, and so to avoid having the Wireless password stored in unencrypted form (you can check and verify this on the Security tab) for all users, only your own user is allowed to connect to the network. The side effect is that you also don't get auto-reconnect to your known access points.

Settings

Zoomed

Select this option, click Apply. On next login (whether after wake from sleep or reboot), you should now have your Wireless reconnect properly. In essence, your problem is solved. But you might also want to enable KDE Wallet, so that you keep your passwords stored in encrypted form.

Wallet

After KDE Wallet is enabled, you should remove (forget) your Wireless access point, connect afresh - you will need your password again. Now, the system should ask you whether you want to use the Wallet. Say yes, and things will be fine from now on.

Conclusion

This is a fairly short tutorial, but the problem is quite annoying. It's a small thing, but it does mar the overall experience. Thinking more broadly, the credentials management in Linux is a bit weird, and hasn't been properly done since, well, ever. Some desktop environments will prompt you to use password wallets, some won't. Some distros will or won't, regardless of the desktop you use. There will be situations where you launch a particular app, like Chromium or Skype, and the wallet tool will wake up. Sometimes, network share connections will need password again and again, because the system won't use the wallet.

All of this goes beyond MX Linux and the re-connect issue I've outlined above. But if you are affected, take a look at the Wireless settings, see if all users can connect, and optionally, activate KDE Wallet so that you have a bit more elegant and secure setup in place. Problem solved. And that would be all for this time, folks.

Cheers.

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