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Fedora and USB Mobile Broadband - Ulrich Drepper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Ulrich Drepper

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Fedora and USB Mobile Broadband [May. 4th, 2010|09:27 am]
Ulrich Drepper
Outside the US I use a USB stick for Internet access. It is a Huawei E161, similar enough to other sticks like E160 etc.

Inserting it into a standard Fedora 12 system causes only the simulated CDROM to be mounted. This dual-mode is the root of the problem.

Looking for a solution one comes across many different solutions. The provider I use, Fonic, has something to download for Linux (a plus, even though they don’t provide any support for it). This seems to be an NDIS driver. There are several other ways (including wvdial and some KDE programs) which are documented.

It’s all much simpler with recent Fedora distributions. Just make sure you have the usb_modeswitch and the accompanying usb_modeswitch-data package installed. Version 1.1.2-3 is what I use. Make sure you reboot before trying to use it.

The usb_modeswitch package contains a program which switches the USB stick from mass storage mode into modem mode. It also contains appropriate udev rules to make this automatic if the device is known in the config files. If it is not known it’s quite simple to add.

Anyway, when inserting the stick the mode should then automatically be switched and then NetworkManager takes over. It recognizes the modem and the built-in rules for wireless broadband providers guide you through the rest of the installation process. You only need to know the provider and possibly the plan. That’s it.

Now when I insert the stick all I get asked is the PIN which has to be provided every time. Why, I don’t know, it should IMO be stored in the keyring just like all the other access information.

Anyway, for everybody with wireless broadband devices on Fedora, make sure usb_modeswitch is installed. There is an open bug in the Red Hat bugzilla to make NetworkManager depend on this package so that everything just works for more people.

From: (Anonymous)
2010-05-06 03:23 pm (UTC)
Some of those USB sticks can be configured in an always modem mode.

For ex. my ZTE MF626 (and MF636) you just need to enter these commands (using minicom or any other serial terminal program):


I think these commands will work for other 3G modems too
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: zaitcev
2010-05-06 06:14 pm (UTC)
I don't think adding bogus dependencies is the answer. Since NM is installed on every computer, you essentially make usb_modeswitch installed on every computer.

If NM can ask packagekit to pull the package upon detecting a Huawei, that would be fine (like gnome-terminal asks for fonts).
(Reply) (Thread)
From: udrepper
2010-05-07 05:50 am (UTC)
In general I would agree. But

a) the dependency in this case is really small, perhaps smaller than anything used to handle it automatically

b) there is the chicken and egg problem. Without a working network connection, how can you automatically download the missing package?
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