NetworkManager is described as 'set of co-operative tools that make networking simple and straightforward' and is an app in the Network & Admin category. There are nine alternatives to NetworkManager for Linux, Xfce and Mac. The best alternative is wicd, which is both free and Open Source. Other great apps like NetworkManager are Ethtool (Free, Open Source), iw (Free, Open Source), ceni (Free, Open Source) and ConnMan (Free, Open Source).
Wicd is an open source wired and wireless network manager for Linux which aims to provide a simple interface to connect to networks with a wide variety of settings.
wicd vs NetworkManager opinions
Almost everyone thinks wicd is a great alternative to NetworkManager.
Wicd is great for those who change networks often (tablets laptops etc.)
It's an excellent interface to "lower level" tools doing the authentication etc.
... command line and GUI interfaces and from my memory allows hotspots / hostapd setup ...
iw is a new nl80211 based CLI configuration utility for wireless devices. It supports almost all new drivers that have been added to the kernel recently. It allows you to configure and show information about wireless networking.
WvDial (pronounced "Weave Dial") is an easier way to connect to the internet. It completely avoids the need for chat scripts, edits pap-secrets and chap-secrets for you, detects your modem automatically, and chooses a valid init string.