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Gnome/KDE program launches hang when Internet disconnected - Lenny

I am running Lenny.  The system is connected to the Internet via a
Linksys BEFSR81router and a cable modem.  My desktop is Gnome.

If the Internet is inaccessible - e.g. if the Ethernet cable is
disconnected from the computer, or the cable modem power is
disconnected, or if there are problems on the provider network - many
GUI programs take a long time (about 60 seconds) to launch.

To be specific, I have an icon for gedit on a panel on my desktop. 
Normally if I click on it the program is launched within about 2
seconds.  If the Internet is inaccessible, and I click on it, nothing
whatsoever appears on the screen for 60 seconds, then the gedit window
appears.  Once the program is launched it works fine.  This happens
every time certain programs are launched, until the Internet becomes
accessible again.

Not all programs are affected.  For example, from the "Graphics" section
of my start menu, GImageView, Gimp, GPicView, Inkscape, and XSane are
NOT affected.  Xpdf is not affected.

When an affected program is launched, and the Internet is accessible,
there is activity on the cable modem (lights flash) before the program
window first appears.  When an unaffected program is launched, this does
not happen in most cases.  I have checked the router logs.  There is no
sign of activity in the logs correlated to program launches.  However
the logs appear to show only TCP and UDP transfers.  They do not appear
to show e.g. DNS lookups, and they may not show mere connections if no
transfer occurs.

It appears that ALL programs that use the Qt application framework are
affected.  I am basing that on the distinctive "look" of Qt windows.  It
appears that MOST OR ALL programs designed to work specifically with
Gnome are affected.  (Often these are identified by the phrase "for
Gnome" in their Help-About windows.)  The programs that are not affected
appear to be older GTK+ programs.

I don't clearly understand the gnome-vfs system, but it seems as if the
affected programs are perhaps initializing a high-level file system
which tries to make some contact with the Internet, perhaps with a DNS
server, and has a 60 second timeout on that access.  I've looked at
Gnome and gnome-vfs2.0 config files but I don't immediately see anything
relevant.  I do not and have never used any kind of Internet networking
with this system other than the usual FTP, SFTP, and web browser clients.

I've Googled "Linux program launch hangs when Internet disconnected" and
similar phrases, with no relevant results.

Any advice would be gratefully accepted.

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