3G [was] Re: [lug] ATT&T mobile broadband

Norm Metcalf n.metcalf at worldnet.att.net
Tue Mar 17 11:17:44 MDT 2009

Does anyone know anything about getting 3G working with eCS?

Nate Duehr wrote:
> Sheesh... the crowd here are quite the zealouts, aren't they?  
> You didn't ask to get involved in a community Linux battle with AT&T, you
> asked how to get one working.
> So... 
> In the sprit of helping you find the answer to your own question, instead of
> worrying about the political and social woes of the world and complaining to
> AT&T that they're not supporting an OS that hasn't even captured 1% of the
> desktop market "space"... 
> I think I'd just Google for "AT&T mobile broadband on Linux" and use
> whatever other folks have gotten working with recent products.  
> :-)
> The modems themselves change models and sometimes manufacturers pretty
> regularly, so yesterday's info about one will work with that one, but not
> with "today's" model in the stores, sometimes.
> The second hit for me on that exact Google search above, was a guy who also
> had another BRILLIANT thought and posted the results on his blog...
> Go to the retail store and ask to plug one of the demo units into your Linux
> laptop to see if it comes up as a USB serial modem.  
> Nothing too ultra-difficult about that... 
> What they WON'T be able to help you with in most cases, is the modem setup
> strings -- but if the modem works, those don't change much.
> Having set up a number of these cards over the years... MOST (but not all)
> of them are simply USB "modems" to the OS.  They come up with X driver that
> links to usbserial driver, and it's a done deal.  
> Some don't work at all under Linux, but OFTEN that's simply because the USB
> module was written without that specific manufacturer code in it... these
> are logged in the system logs, so often folks will try recompiling the
> kernel after hacking that code into the C source for the "most likely"
> driver -- and usually it works -- but if you're not comfortable with ANY of
> that... just look for an older card/USB stick that's known to work.  The old
> PCMCIA cards also often came up as modems, if you want to go that route.  I
> have an old 1XRTT GSM card from Sony that's both 802.11b and GSM in the same
> card... and under Linux both can be activated simultaneously.  It's "too
> slow" in today's world to really use, but it was great 5 years ago.
> No matter what, you'll have to feed them special modem command strings to
> have them "dial" the network, at least the GSM ones.  I haven't played with
> the EVDO ones, but you asked specifically about AT&T -- so they won't apply.
> So make sure your distro either supports GUI-based changes to the modem
> dial-out and setup strings, or get comfortable with command-line editing of
> the ppp configuration, and pop one in and see what dmesg says... most of
> them nowadays "just work"... but you may have to fiddle with the "modem"
> settings in your GUI/ppp configuration to point those applications at the
> device name they come up as... 
> Be careful with AT&T... they're highly "punitive" about anything over 5GB a
> month being billed out at $0.47 a megabyte and if you roam it can go WAY
> higher than that.  Disable roaming on the device altogether to make sure it
> doesn't connect if you regularly travel outside the country, or anywhere
> near a U.S. border... 
> Another thing to watch for that's not a GUARANTEE, but might help... any of
> the modems that works with Mac OSX machines PROBABLY doesn't have a special
> Mac driver for that... it's just coming up as a USB serial device.  Most of
> the manufacturers are WAY too lazy to develop anything like the "winmodem"
> type land-line modems that had the Windows OS doing all the heavy lifting
> for these even smaller production runs of wireless cellular modems.  It's
> WAY easier for them just to make them act like any USB serial modem device,
> and call it "done" for all OS's.  But what does this mean to you?  The ones
> that say they're "Mac compatible" are likely also "Linux compatible" on any
> modern Linux kernel that isn't too old... you just won't get any fancy
> driver discs that have APPLICATION software on the disc to manage the modem,
> show you signal strength, etc.
> That's the ONE thing I would say is still a given... there aren't any good
> Linux apps to do any of that.  I always kept the machine that had the mobile
> data card in it set up for dual-boot, or a Windows or Mac machine "handy"
> somewhere with the carrier's "official driver disc" (which is actually both
> a windows serial/USB driver, and application software to manage the modem's
> internal settings) loaded and handy somewhere.  Managing these things
> through Linux and sending un-documented AT commands to the modem is a huge
> hassle still today...
> Logging into AT&T's "small biz" site is often the best place to find data on
> their data products, instead of their "consumer" site, too... just as a
> note.
> http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/OptionGTUltraExpress/index.jsp?br
> ef=null
> http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/OptionGTUltraExpress/index.jsp?br
> ef=null
> http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/SierraMercuryUSB/index.jsp
> http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/SierraAirCard881/index.jsp?bref=n
> ull
> http://www.wireless.att.com/businesscenter/USBConnect-Quicksilver/index.jsp
> Okay, starting with the bottom one, Googling for the name "USBConnect
> Quicksilver Linux" brought up some things... since these have a built-in SD
> card/storage device... the Linux kernel is tricked into seeing only the
> storage and not the modem.  There's (I guess) applications that will muck
> around with the device number in the device to "fix" that.
> http://6head.blogspot.com/2008/12/now-to-3g-wireless-working.html
> So some Googling for the other USB stick seems to turn up similar problems.
> The best option SEEMS to be (for brain-dead, just works...) the
> SierraAirCard 881 up there... but that's a PCMCIA card, so you have to
> decide if you want to mess with that... 
> The two at the top are obviously for ExpressCard 34 slots, and I have zero
> experience with those.
> Another REDICULOUSLY cheesy, but probably would work wonderfully option...
> leave the base OS on the machine either Windows or Mac OSX, and run Linux in
> a virtual machine... (GRIN)!  Share the networking love!  (Ha!)
> Seriously... there's a lot of options.  None of them "officially" supported
> by any carrier, nor any likely to be anytime soon... 
> Nate 
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