Some time ago, I had explained why I thought I would never use network-manager, especially because of the gnome-keyring password which should be typed in at every new session.
This led to the libpam-gnome-keyring which allows the keyring to be unlocked automatically at login from the display manager. This is great!
I am now using network-manager on my laptop!
I am still puzzled about the fact that there is no network connection until someone logs in, but I guess I will live with this, especially with a desktop machine.