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I have installed Stretch and I find that NetworkManager gets in my way more often than not, and I would rather familiarize myself with network interface administration at a lower level based on the contents of /etc/network/interfaces.

Which command line programs take over the task network configuration when NetworkManager is disabled?

There are a number of programs like ip, ifconfig, iwconfig, and wicd it is hard to tell which of these are used by /etc/network/interfaces to configure network settings.

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To answer this, follow the trail starting with /etc/network/interfaces, or rather the corresponding manpage, interfaces.5. A search reveals that it comes from ifupdown or ifupdown2. Looking at the corresponding package dependencies shows that they use iproute2, and can optionally use ppp, rdnssd, and a DHCP client.

Reading the manpage provides additional detail, in particular concerning wireless support which is provided by wireless-tools and iw. Many other packages provide ifupdown extensions.

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