Mobile Broadband on Linux

Mobile Broadband on Linux

Summary: I recently spent four days in Portugal (wonderful golf...), which gave me the opportunity to use my Huawei 3G/UMTS/HSPA USB adapter.


I recently spent four days in Portugal (wonderful golf...), which gave me the opportunity to use my Huawei 3G/UMTS/HSPA USB adapter. It has been a while since I tried that, and most of the major distributions have made new releases since I last tried it, so I assumed it would be a new adventure, discovering (or figuring out) how to get it working. Of course, I could have used it on Windows, if I had been willing to download the 60MB or whatever software package required to support it, and figure out how to use that... not likely.

What I actually got was a very pleasant surprise. With the following Gnome-based distributions, all that was necessary was to click on the Network Manager icon in the panel, choose "New Mobile Broadband Connection" (or "Auto Broadband" on Fedora), and walk through the three steps necessary to identify the country, carrier and plan you have:

openSuSE 12.1 Gnome Fedora 16 Linux Mint Debian 201109 Gnome Linux Mint 12 Ubuntu 11.10 Debian 6.0.3

With each of these, it took literally less than a minute to get connected.

I have previously not had much luck with KDE distributions and Mobile Broadband, but after the great success with all of the above, I decided to give it another shot. I booted up openSuSE 12.1 KDE, clicked on the Network Manager icon, and then "Enable Mobile Broadband". Then click "Manage Connections", "Mobile Broadband" and "Add". Walk through the same questions as with Network Manager on Gnome above, and it comes right up! Hooray!

This is extremely good news. It means that with pretty much all of the latest Linux distributions, Mobile Broadband Internet access is just a few short steps away!


Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • JW, Thanks for the good information as always. I can only back up your statements as I've had the same experiences as well. NetworkManager in GNU/Linux is amazingly simple when you compare it to Windows; where in Windows just as you mention, you need to download a 3rd party package which is usually a bloated connection manager program that installs drivers and support to connect to the provider's network, plus many of these programs also try to take over your other WiFi cards as well. And to make it more confusing for users, some carriers bundle the same connection manager software together with different drivers so there are multiple downloads available but you have to pick the right one to get it working properly.
  • I tried my old T-Mobile device in SuSe 12.1 on my Samsung n150 N550 netbook . It was recognised immediately and the Network Connections Manager sprung to life. My problem was that I didn't know exactly what to fill in for each box. The first box would not accept my sim card number and remained obstinately at *99#. Nor can I find any information for Network and PIN, so far as I know, I've never had a PIN. It doesn't help that I can't move the window about to see the bottom of the window, I tab through several unseen boxes before arriving at the cancel/accept boxes

    The device does work in Windows using it's own software for which the installation files are contained in a pseudo CD-ROM on the device itself.
    The Former Moley
  • Moley, something about that doesn't sound right to me. When I plugged in my USB dongle on any of the distributions which use Network Manager, the only questions I had to answer were specifying what country I am in, what carrier I use and what type of Mobile Data plan I have. It then took care of everything else. Filling in the access point and PIN code are the sorts of things which always come up when I try it on a KDE distribution which uses Knetworkmanager, and I could never figure out the proper answers for those either.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • JW. I got it now. I needed to switch on the mobile network in Network Settings, and then just provide the 3 pieces of information you mentioned into the Network Connection Manager, I also got it working Ubuntu 11.04 - I haven't migrated to 11.10 and don't think I will. SuSe 12.1 Gnome seems a more attractive choice, spoiled only by the poor rendering of fonts in Firefox

    Interestingly, I go directly to the Internet without the T-mobile log in screen which should ask me how I wish to pay, daily, weekly etc., so do I have a 'free' connection? I only have occasional use for a mobile connection, but a check on my account shows that I haven't used any credit today whilst setting up and testing the T-mobile dongle
    The Former Moley
  • JW. I forgot to mention that, last evening, Internet pages loaded more quickly using the mobile dongle than when using my broadband connection which, as I have commented before, is abysmal throughout the evening.
    The Former Moley
  • Moley - Interesting. That's a bit of a sad state... but nice to have a working alternative.