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I've recently moved my /home to another computer (keeping all configuration files), with a fresh installation of Ubuntu 10.10.

After Installation I've installed wicd and ndiswrapper, to get my Internet Connection up and running. However, after changing /etc/network/interfaces from

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback


auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp

and running sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart to get wlan0 set up, wicd just suddenly connected... to my modem. Without supplying any information about the modem whatsoever. Of course wicd creates a local directory at ~/.wicd/, but that directory is empty, and the temporary global configuration at /var/lib/wicd/configurations/ didn't exist due to fresh installation of ubuntu.

So what's the deal? Where did wicd get the ESSID and the WPA Key?

There hasn't been any activity in this question, but it's still open (and even worth some rep)!

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You mention a "new computer". Was that PC a fresh format install? If you'd connected using Ubuntu on that PC, then upgraded (or installed without ticking the format option), your configuration may have survived...? – Scaine Mar 9 '11 at 21:54
@Scaine: New computer being equal to "New installation". I see little reason to explicitly add that here, as the circumstances don't exactly matter. And I'll happily repeat myself, the global configuration (/etc, /usr & friends) was not copied, as these files didn't exist anymore at the point of installation. Hence the term "new computer" -- It was an absolutely clean installation, sans fresh home, as I've explained above. – user2817 Mar 10 '11 at 1:15
My point is that a "new installation" is NOT a "new" installation unless you tick the "Format" box during that install. It was worth asking though, and thanks for the clarification. – Scaine Mar 10 '11 at 9:35
up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you did not format your system, and installed on top of an old installation, then it is quite likely that your old settings were brought over (including settings in /etc). Whatever is not installed on the live CD would have been left alone, which is explains the apparent magic bunnies result that you experienced. It's less of a mysterious answer :( - but at least it's more realistic :).

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This is the most probable possibility. – Oxwivi Mar 10 '11 at 15:45
I was serious when I said it's the best answer so far ;-) – user2817 Mar 10 '11 at 16:06
lol okay :D glad it works for you ^^ – RolandiXor Mar 10 '11 at 16:14

On a standard Ubuntu installation using GNOME and network-manager the WPA key is stored in the GNOME keyring. This will be restored with /home.

You can test if this is so in your settings by temporarily deactivating keyrings in ~/.gnome2 (make a backup before you do so!).

The only other location I can think of where Wicd could get a WPA key from is etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf. I have no idea however how this file could have moved to your /home (if that is exclusively what you restored).

I don't use Wicd, therefore I can't check settings but if ~/.wicd is empty then there is no chance that any keys are being stored there. You maybe want to check if wicd_gui has another path to store things.

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I've checked my keyring (using seahorse), and there is no WPA Key or WPA Entry, or anything that looks remotely related to WPA/WLan... since I've never used network-manager to connect. There is no wpa_supplicant.conf or wpa_supplicant* in /home (I did a recursive search), either. – user2817 Dec 2 '10 at 21:21
Do you have a file /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf and if so, what is stored there? – Takkat Dec 3 '10 at 7:53
That file doesn't exist on my system. Wicd creates a similar file, but with a session-based name in /var/lib/wicd/configurations (with almost the same syntax). It wouldn't really matter either, since only /home was untouched, everything else was purged. – user2817 Dec 3 '10 at 13:15

If the only common thing between the old computer and the new computer is within $HOME then the key must be in $HOME somewhere. So the question is really, which file is it in?

You could find out by getting a list of the file common to both machines (find $HOME -type f should do from your description). First backup these files and then remove them. Check that the key is no longer known. Then replace half of the files and check again, if it is not known then the key must be in the other half. Split the second half in two and keep going in that manner until you home in on the file containing your key.

Might take a while.

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The old installation is gone, because it has been replaced by the new Installation... – user2817 Mar 10 '11 at 13:48
But your home folder remains... – RolandiXor Mar 10 '11 at 15:24
@Roland Taylor: Asumptions are not answers, really – user2817 Mar 10 '11 at 16:05

WICD has a configuration file for all of the networks that have ever been connected to in


this will contain a set of entries for every bssid (base station MAC address) that you have connected to. So when wicd sees a network that it has connected to before it will get the key values from this file.

There is also wired-settings.conf for the settings for wired connections, and various other settings in manager-settings.conf

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but /etc/* didn't exist at aforementioned state due to fresh installation of ubuntu... – user2817 Mar 9 '11 at 18:52
@nebukadnezzar Then your system did magic tricks and you should be looking for rabbits to come out of hats and your fans etc. What Scaine tried to tell you is, if you didn't format the drive, this was not as clean an install as you think. – RolandiXor Mar 10 '11 at 15:27
@Roland Taylor: the fact that I can't explain it is the reason I've asked on in the first place. But "magic bunnies that hijacked my computer" is the best answer so far, since i have a hard time believing that ubiquity (the ubuntu installer) actually copied stuff from the old /etc into the new /etc, especially since wicd isn't installed per default (so it's not a corepackage), maybe you should post that as an answer? – user2817 Mar 10 '11 at 15:36
@nebukadnezzar LOL! To my knowledge ubuntu will reuse your old settings (kinda mixing them up) if you don't choose to format, and yes, I'll post something as an answer :D – RolandiXor Mar 10 '11 at 15:38

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