KDE: Is it possible to change "wlan0" shown in the Network Monitor widget?

Hello everyone,
Here’s a screenshot of my desktop to better explain the request:


If you take a look at the lower right section, I have added the “Network Monitor” widget to the taskbar, helps me monitor the up/down speeds without having to click on anything. As you can see, it says “wlan0”. This is NOT the SSID of the connected wireless network, and it says “wlan0” no matter which network I’m connected to. My router’s SSID is “Wireless Broadband”, and my phone’s hotspot SSID is “My Android O”, but it always says “wlan0” in both the networks.

Is there a way to change it to something better, say “My Wireless”?
Thanks :cool:

The KDE Plasma “Network Monitor” widget is an applet which monitors the network interfaces. The text string “wlan0” or “eth0” or whatever, is the interface name which is being monitored.

The displayed name of the WLAN (usually the SSID but, this may be overridden by the Network Manager setup) which is currently being used, is only visible in the “Networks” (System Tray) widget or, with the user “root”, in the output of the CLI commands “ifconfig” and “iwconfig”. The CLI command “iwconfig” provides detailed information about the per SSID and/or Connection-ID.

Now that I know better, logic suggests changing wlan0 in the widget to something else will require changing the interface name (the widget doesn’t allow setting an ‘alias’ for wlan0), and I’m guessing doing this won’t be easy/ problem-free (it might cause compatibility issues with other software that expect wlanx, ethx, etc to be present)?

Anyway, I’ve installed a new widget (called “Netspeed”) and this doesn’t show ‘wlan0’ in the taskbar, just shows the up/down speed. It does show ‘wlan0’ if the mouse pointer hovers over it, but that’s no big deal. Showing ‘wlan0’ in the taskbar itself felt way too “techy techy” if you know what I mean, a nice alias like “Wireless” would look better IMO. Netspeed’s approach is better (at least for an ordinary user who is connected using only one network interface at a time)- it just shows the up/down speed in the taskbar, but then if you want more info, all you have to do is hover over the widget- it’ll display the interface name, the total data downloaded, and the total data uploaded.

Thanks for clearing things up, and the commands dcurtisfra.

You can go through this thread if you want to rename your interfaces:

okay here’s my /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules

# This file was automatically generated by the /usr/lib/udev/write_net_rules
# program,run by the persistent-net-generator.rules rules file.
# You can modify it,as long as you keep each rule on a single
# line,and change only the value of the NAME= key.
# PCI device 0x8086:0x08b3 (iwlwifi)
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="18:3d:a2:e6:49:8e", ATTR{dev_id}=="0x0", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="wlan*", NAME="wlan0"

Just to clarify, in order to change the interface name I keep everything same, just modify the last NAME=“wlan0” to say NAME=“Wireless”?

And the OP in that thread said his firewall wasn’t working as the interface name changed- does this mean my firewall will stop working if I change the name from wlan0 to something else?

Very interesting read, thanks for the link Glistwan :good:

Yes, exactly. The Firewall operates on the interface’s NAME – meaning that, the Firewall rules will have to be changed if the interface’s name is changed.

I think you must understand that when you change the name of a device (if it is wlan0 to Wireless, or sdc to LargeDisk, or which name that provides the interface between the Kernel and the rest of the system), all mentioning of that name in all sorts of existing configuration files will not change with it. All those configurations (and the Firewall one will only be one of them) will become pointless.

Thus when you do not have that change from the very beginning (the installation of the system), the chance that somewhere the old name is still in use after a later change is very likable.

I think it is far easier to teach your end-user that wlan0 is the name of (one of the) Wifi connections of the system then to change the name. Maybe it helps when you explain those people that wlan is short for Wireless LAN and that LAN means Local Area Network, wich is “the network at your side of the router”. And that the number 0 means the first of such devices found initialisation , eventual available other ones being names wlan1, wlan 2, etc.

OTH, IMHO, the idea’s not bad …

Yes, yes, for “industry folks” (me, for example), the interface names “wlan0”, “eth0”, “lo”, and so on, are “meaningful” (possibly, sometimes) … >:)

But, for “normal” human beings, almost certainly not.

Therefore, the “thing” displayed to a “normal” user should, IMHO, be something less technical and more descriptive. Such as “Wireless” or “Cable” …

  • Which, for the programming folk, is, actually, an interface category – possibly a class …

I was not commenting on what an application (in this case something the OP calls a Network Monitor) is implementing and how it is interfacing to an end-user ( I do not even know that application).

I was commenting on a system administrator wishing to change the device names on his system. That is IMHO a bad idea.

When I understand correctly what the OP wants, he wants an application that shows, what is happening with the connection to a specific wireless access point. The application should of course (I would not really know another easy way) use the device name to obtain that information. Thus the solution lies in using another application, or writing one, or … Not in changing the device name.

                    This is exactly what I mean.

Linux has been so successful in pretty much every other field (from cellphones to supercomputers, from toasters to NASA) except on the desktop of the average user, and here’s why I think this is:

  1. The public perception of it being an OS made by the geeks to be used by the geeks. Using technical terms in the GUI doesn’t help. Neither does the idea of editing config files and the shell prompt. While these design decisions might be incredibly useful for people who understand the science behind the system, they just reinforce the public perception of Linux being too geeky for the average human being who wants anything more than emails and a web browser. Believe it or not, MANY average users who don’t understand the underlying technology use advanced Windows programs like Net Speed Monitor, Comodo Firewall, Open Hardware Monitor, Connectify Pro, etc. The trick is, these programs perform advanced tasks without expecting the end user to come from a solid IT background. The average user has reasonable control over advanced operations. Like Comodo firewall- it allows you to selectively block certain applications just by clicking on menus- you can allow Program A to access the internet, block Program B from accessing the internet, Program C to only make outgoing connections, Program D to only receive incoming connections, only ICMP for program X, only TCP/IP for program Y, etc- all this by just clicking on pop-ups and menus.

In Linux, you need to learn to use ip6tables, which is way too technical for the average user.

  1. Lack of a killer “Linux- only app”.
    There are Windows/ Mac programs that don’t run on Linux. But when they make a Linux desktop program, chances are they will make a Windows version of the same (this I believe is by design- programs are open-source and can be modified for any platform). Open Office runs on Windows, but MS Office doesn’t on Linux. Gimp runs on Windows but Photoshop/ Illustrator won’t run on Linux. An average user wants to run average desktop programs, he doesn’t care if there’s some server software that will run better on Linux- he will never run a server. Desktop software for average users that doesn’t run on Windows will give users a reason to switch.

                       3.  Complex installation process for apps.

In Windows, you search google for app X. You open App X’s web page.You check if App X will run on your OS (the vendor page mentions this- “Runs on Windows 7,8,10," etc.). You download the app installer and clickety click your way to install it.
In Linux you’re fine if the app is present in the official/default repos of your distro. If not, you search for the repo that provides it, add the repo, attempt installing, go thru all the dependencies and make sure you’re not changing something that’s being used by something else, and then finally install it. Even after all this, there’s a chance your installation will break the system as the repository you used is not officially supported by your distribution (or- more likely- you have made an error while resolving dependencies).

  1. I saw this YouTube video where Torvalds said he believes Linux is not as popular on the desktop because OEMs don’t bundle Linux like they bundle Windows. With all due respect, I have to disagree with this analysis. The country I live in, people do the opposite of what he said. They buy laptops which come with Ubuntu (because Ubuntu laptops are generally cheaper- no Windows license fees). Then they format the installation and install a pirated copy of Windows, followed by a bunch of pirated software. And Microsoft ALLOWS this, they’d rather have users with pirated Windows than let them switch to Linux.

IMO, Torvalds- as smart as he is- has got this wrong. Points 1,2, and 3 are the real reasons preventing widespread Linux adoption in the desktop market.

                    I agree. The widget that showed “wlan0” in the GUI has now been replacecd with a widget that doesn’t show it. The replacement widget is called “Netspeed” and can be installed easily with (Right-click desktop empty area→Click “Add Widget”→ click “Get new widgets”→ search for “Netspeed”). Works perfectly, here’s a screenshot.


From your last paragraph I understand that you have a satisfying solution to your problem. That is fine, enjoy.

I did. Thanks for reading my thread and sharing your opinion :good::good::good:

Installed it on this Desktop machine, tried it – it seems to be “English only” – haven’t, yet, logged out and then logged in again …

And, with “mouse cursor hover”, it displays “Network usage eth0 Downloaded xxx MiB, Uploaded yyy MiB”.

I’ll install it on the Laptop to see what it tells me about the Wireless and Cable interfaces there but, I suspect that it ain’t going to give too much status information …

Seems to depend on whether you want to know “How fast are we going?” against “When will we get there?”

And now I’m a little bit confused:Assuming that, the System Tray “Network” Plasmoid is enabled, it displays the name of the WLAN SSID I setup in the Connection Editor (not “wlan0”) and, it enables management of the network connection(s) [turn them on and off and, enable “I’m a passenger in an aeroplane”] and, it indicates, symbolically, the signal strength of the WLAN connection.
It also displays the signal strength as a percentage if needed and, the current up-link/down-link throughputs.

What more does a “normal” user want?

Well, the user needs to click on the Network plasmoid to check up/down speeds.
Imagine a situation where the user is writing a document in Libre Office while downloading something in ktorrent. He wants to check how fast the torrent is downloading- he will just look at the “Netspeed” widget and get an idea of his speeds. This is a better solution than having to lift his hand off the keyboard and click on/ hover over the ktorrent system tray icon or click on the Network plasmoid- given he doesn’t have the ktorrent window open in background (and hence cannot Alt+Tab to it)…:wink:

Nah, it won’t show the SSID on wireless connections. But the point is, it won’t show the interface name either. It’ll just show the up/down speeds. The interface name gets visible only if you hover over the widget. To an average user, it looks less techy (when not hovering over it) as the interface name is hidden from the taskbar view. An added advantage is that it consumes less screen-space, and (for me) looks more appealing :slight_smile:

It won’t show “When” because it doesn’t know what the target is. It doesn’t know how much data you’re trying to download. It will just show “How fast”.

Or “how slow”. And then the user will take the throttle and add power!!!

LOL lol!

Or perhaps check if someone else is doing something on the connection and if necessary ask him to stop whatever he’s doing for a while.
Perhaps call up the ISP to complain about slow speeds if he notices a prolonged period of very slow connection (say downloading at 10kBps).
Perhaps he’ll open the torrent client and check the number of available seeds.
Perhaps cancel the torrent download for a while.

The torrent was just an example, there are other scenarios where this can come handy, at least to some users.

I’m not saying everyone needs this. All I’m saying is I like keeping an eye on the connection speed, and I don’t like seeing technical jargon “in your face” all the time. And obviously I’m not alone, or else this widget won’t exist- I didn’t program it myself- my programming skills are limited to some basic C++ console applications. The one who did must have thought someone will use it. And I am someone who’s using it :slight_smile:

It’s the same with HDD activity LEDs. Some people say it’s pointless as even if the user sees the HDD busy, he can’t really know why it’s busy unless he opens some kind of resource monitor to check the process that’s trashing the drive- but I prefer an activity indicator.

I’m sorry if I offended you or the community. Didn’t mean to. Of course I like Linux, or else I wouldn’t have erased a licensed OEM copy of Windows 10 to install openSuse.
The only reason I mentioned the drawbacks is because I honestly feel if those can be corrected Linux will dominate the desktop world like it dominates everywhere else.

Peace :shake:

I think we will never agree, but IMHO many of the actions above are not inside the end-users domain, but in that of the system manager. Maybe the end-user complains to the system manager, but the system manager tries to find out of there is something wrong and if something can be done (like complaining to the ISP).

No, at least this part of the community is not offended – I’ve been “in the game” for almost 40 years now – actually 45 years if I count university studies and Fortran card punches …

Regarding the HDD activity, it’s a little bit like the discussion we had within DEC years ago:

  • Disk drive controllers were 6 feet high cabinets with a light bulb for each cylinder and head addressed: upper management used stand around the “visitor” windows to the computer rooms and stare with extreme fascination for hours at the disk activity.
  • PDP-11/40/45/70 CPUs had register lights which displayed a rotating pattern during idle periods – the actual pattern depended on which operating system was running and the stability of the pattern was an indication of the CPU load …
  • Other machines such as the PDP-15, PDP-8 and the PDP-10 CPUs also had register lights but, AFAIK, no rotating patterns.

All very fascinating but, at the end of the day “not really useful”. Later machines and PDP-11/70 machines with a remote maintenance console had simply a “power LED”.

Yes, monitoring and displaying local system activity is “nice to have” but, given the current reliability and performance of systems it’s, IMHO, not needed 97,564 % of the time …

What’s possibly a greater need, is the ability to determine if a network “brick” has ‘died’ – I’ve recently experienced a NFS NAS which was no longer available on the LAN – Gwenview misbehaved in a big way with long start-up times due to a “Places” entry for the NFS mount point … Nagios would have been helpful but, it’s an overkill for a small LAN.

Current BitTorrent throughput could be a point but, once the transfer begins, it’s dynamic – at any point in time the bandwidth offered by the Server and/or the network connection can change, due to the load being demanded at each point in time by everyone using the service – if an event happens and lots of people suddenly begin using the service, the available bandwidth will be automatically redistributed by the algorithms used by the network and the Server.

My personal view is, one needs to know if “the service is available” and, “Do I have time for a coffee-break before the transfer completes?”.