Pain-free networking is the promise that the NetworkManager project makes. NetworkManager ships with most major Linux distributions now and is, by default, enabled at boot time.
For mobile laptop users NetworkManager is great, but its usefulness is questionable for desktops and server deployments. This week we will introduce NetworkManager and its features (and drawbacks), followed by a Cisco VPN Client how-to next week.
The NetworkManager project believes that pain-free networking should be possible for laptop users. Everything should just work, as it typically does in OS X and Windows. If you unplug your CAT-5 cable and there is wireless available, you should be automatically connected to the Wi-Fi network so you may continue working. Likewise, when you return to your desk, NetworkManager should automatically connect to the faster wired network. This is how it works in every other operating system, so generally speaking this is a move in the right direction for Linux.