t-mobile 3g stickage

old skool phone modem

old skool phone modem

i’m not t-mobile’s biggest fan by any means but i do like the idea of having a selection of 3G providers to choose from.

so i’ve ended up with this 3g usb stick from t-mobile which “works on windows and osx” – *sigh*

still, i’ve seen a few of these on vodafone and you just plug them in and NetworkManager does the rest, right?

well, almost.  if you’re still back on fedora 10 (what’ve you been doing all week?!) then you’ll need to do something (called ‘usbmodeswitch’) to switch the stick from ‘zerocd’ mode into 3g modem mode – in fedora 11 that’s done for you (by hal i think).  but then when you try to connect it fails.

googling around i found lots of people saying it doesn’t work if the settings have a blank username and password – doesn’t matter what they are as long as they’re not blank.  well i tried that but it made no difference.

tried calling t-mobile support who were moderately helpful and did say that i should try “user” and “pass” but that didn’t  help either.

they also said that there’s some other software you can download that sorts it all out for you.  more googling found ‘hsoconnect’ hosted on pharscape.org which was, at that time, blacklisted by google for apparently hosting viruses!  eek.

went to the t-mobile shop today and got the same story from them.  also they can’t swap the stick for a different model and they can’t accept it back from me either – i have to call support again.

so, thought i’d have another try at hsoconnect. pharscape.org is no longer blacklisted!  bit of a problem with the latest release because it’s python2.5-based but fedora 11 has 2.6.  then i found a beta version which runs on 2.6.  hoorah!

once i’d found that you have to create folders for it before you run the installer it finally ran … and failed.  reading some more comments it turns out that hsoconnect only ever works if you configure it yourself with username, password and APN.  APN?  ah ha!

tracked down the APN here … success!  then i thought, maybe that’s what the problem was all along …. and now i’m typing this using the 3g stick connected by NetworkManager! (well, i was, right up until t-mobile blocked me from finding a picture on flickr – even though the chap who sold it to me assured me he’d removed the block.  grrr.)

so, if you’ve got fedora 11 and a new uk t-mobile 3g stick you need to know:

go to the ‘connection settings’ in NetworkManager.

go to the mobile broadband connection and edit it.

set the username and password to anything non-blank.

set the APN to general.t-mobile.uk

success!  😀

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Fedora 10 Preview – Part 2

success!

i really don’t understand what’s going on with that bug but i now have a running F10 preview.

that means i also have a working procedure for installing the full DVD version as well – which is what i actually wanted to do in the first place.

having done it once i’ve decided to go back to the livecd installer (when it works) as it’s about ten times quicker.  looks like writing to disk is the biggest place where fedora loses out to the xandros linux that’s pre-installed on the eee.

eee pc 901 disk write performance - chart comparing linux distributions

eee pc 901 disk write performance - chart comparing linux distributions

to get the DVD install working i did the following:

  1. find an external USB disk with enough space for the DVD contents plus a bit.  you can use an SD card for this but the only machine i have which is capable of writing to an SD card is …. my eee.
  2. using fdisk create a single partition on it and set that partition bootable.
  3. mkdosfs on that partition.
  4. livecd-iso-to-disk on that partition using the /images/boot.iso file from the DVD.
  5. copy the contents of the DVD to that partition. (you can copy to a sub-directory if you want – just add that path before ‘/images’ in step 8 below)
  6. boot the eee from that disk (repeatedly pressing ESC while it boots and then selecting the USB drive as the boot device)
  7. select ‘local disk’ as the installation source.
  8. select /dev/sdc1 (assuming you don’t have more SD cards or USB devices plugged in) as the source drive and give the path /images because that’s where the install.img file is.

that gets the installer running – after that it’s a regular install.  don’t forget to un-tick the external USB drive in the list of drives to install onto!

you can skip steps 2 and 3 if the drive already has a bootable, fat-formatted partition with enough space on it.  that way you don’t have to delete anything.

i’ve re-done the install from livecd since then and tried enabling the encryption option.  it’s much nicer than in F9 – during the ‘blue bars’ boot stage (called ‘plymouth’ i think) you get a nice, clean text prompt for the password – which you can see as a row of dots as you type! 😀

enabling RPM Fusion repos was easy – just google for ‘rpm fusion’ and copy+paste the commands on the ‘configuration’ page.  when we get to the final release it’ll be even easier – just click on the link to the release rpm.

wireless worked after an rpm fusion install and a modprobe just as it did in the beta.

i’ve applied the 64 initial updates.  now i’m installing a bunch of stuff – themes, openoffice, optional gnome stuff, google-gadgets and cairo-dock.  about 100 packages – could be here for a while!