Let’s say you have a laptop running the GNOME desktop environment (such as Ubuntu GNOME or CentOS 7), and you want to be able to get very specific on how the machine behaves on different networks. At work location A, you want that machine to connect with a static IP address and IPv6 disabled; at work location B, you need to connect via static IP and bypass the default gateway. Or maybe you have a server that you need to every so often switch from a production network to a test network.

No matter the combination, you’ll want the means to easily transition between those networks without having to completely reconfigure your hardware every time. That’s where Network Profiles come in.

Network Profiles can be used to create multiple configuration sets for different networks–this makes it incredibly easy to transition a machine from one network to another. Within the GNOME Network Settings tool, creating and using Networking Profiles is very simple. I’ll walk you through the process so you can start taking advantage of this handy feature immediately.

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Creating a new profile

To create a new profile, click the System Tray and then click the Settings icon (Figure A). In the All Settings window, click Network.

Figure A

In the Network settings window, click the Add Profile button (Figure B).

Figure B

The first thing you should do is name your profile. Click the Identity tab and enter a name for the profile (Figure C).

Figure C

If your machine has multiple networking interfaces, you can decide which MAC address to use for the profile by clicking the MAC Address drop-down. You can also spoof (clone) a MAC address, adjust the MTU, and even select from a number of firewall zones (this defines the trust level of the connection).

After you set up the profile’s identity, click either the IPv4 or IPv6 tab and configure your network connection (Figure D). In this tab you can set the connection to either DHCP or Static (you can also select Link-Local Only, but chances are you won’t need that type of connection).

If you need to configure routes (for example, in order to bypass a default gateway), here’s where you do it. At the bottom of either the IPv4/6 tab, you can enable that profile to be used only for resources on its network; this is an easy way to prevent the machine from gaining access to an external network or when a profile is to be used in connection with a VPN.

Finish configuring your connection and click the Add button. Your profile will be saved and is ready to use.

Figure D

Using a profile

Now, when you open the Network settings window, you’ll see all of your profiles ready to serve (Figure E). Click the profile you want to use, and it will immediately connect.

Figure E

Create as many profiles that you need

A nice thing about GNOME Networking Profiles is that you can create as many profiles as you need and get as granular as necessary for each connection. Give this feature a try, and see if it helps make your networking life more efficient and convenient.