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Etch desktop: switching between ppp and ethernet network connections

Ok, I think I've tried everything but I can't get automation and
userfriendlyness into etch based networking, so I'm asking for help.

How to setup ppp/gprs modem connection and ethernet/dhcp in etch so that:

- ethernet connection is used when cable is plugged in and dhcp client
  finds a lease, 
- ppp/gprs modem connection is used as backup when ethernet is not
  available, and most important bit,
- gnome desktop user has some idea which connection is in use (and possibly
  can manually switch from ethernet to ppp/gprs, and back)

I can't get network-manager working like described. I have ppp
connection setup and working with pon/poff and configured in
/etc/network/interfaces. Ethernet connection is not setup, so
network-manager should manage it by default. Two problems remain.

One: at boot network-manager does not discover that ethernet cable is not
connected, and thus zero conf kicks in and ethernet seems active. A
round of networking disable and enable does help and now cable is not
found and interfaces remains down. User is confused. 
This happens on a HP Omnibook XE3 with a ADMtek Comet rev 17 ethetnet chip.

Second: ppp and network-manager don't work well. It's ok to enable and
disable the ppp interface from the GUI, but it sucks that it doesn't
show anything like 'Connected' status when PPP connection is active.
User is very confused.

gnome-ppp is a bit complicated and it doesn't work with the system wide
ppp settings, which work and which the user can not accidentally screw

ifplugd and automatic ppp setup work, allmost, but lack a gui in gnome.
They work if eth0 is not set as auto while ppp is set as auto. Then ifplugd is
configured to poll the eth0 device. At boot ppp is setup. If cable is
later plugged, ifplugd activates eth0. When cable is unplugged only
/etc/resolv.conf is hosed since the ppp0 stayed up all the time. I hope
I can fix this with resolvconf, although I've had bad experiences with it
in unstable some years ago. But the problem of a missing GUI remains. Is
there some that I've missed?

Long story, but I hope someone knows better...


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