One of the first features I wanted to set up on my Eee, was the ability to use my mobile phone (a Nokia N95) as a modem, as a backup in case there’s no WiFi or Ethernet connection available.
I’ve found a couple of guides on the Web for how to set up a Linux-running Eee for this, but have found that they didn’t quite work “out of the box”. The closest I found was these instructions on the EeeUser forum; what follows is heavily based on these tips, but with a couple of changes and clarifications based on what worked (or not) for me.
This guide assumes the following:
- Your Eee is the Linux version, running the “stock” Eee/Xandros OS. It doesn’t matter if you’re using “Easy” or “Advanced” (KDE) mode, though I’m still running mostly in “Easy Mode” with the big icons (I plan to ditch these soon and just run the IceWM window manager, but that’s for later.)
- You have an S60-based phone (mine is a Nokia N95, but other S60 3rd Edition phones, and possibly S60 5th Edition ones like the Nokia 5800 and N97, should work the same).
- You have a data package with your mobile network provider, and the SIM card in your phone is set up accordingly. If you already use the Internet on your phone, you should be fine. (Some network providers don’t like you using your phone as a modem unless you upgrade to a higher-level—and usually higher-priced—data package, so check your contract’s terms and conditions to see if this is the case.)
- This method involves a USB (cable) connection between your Eee and your phone. Apparently, it’s possible to do this over Bluetooth if you have a USB Bluetooth dongle plugged in and configured, but I haven’t got round to this yet—if/when I do, I’ll post back here with how it goes (or not).
The steps to take are as follows:
- Connect your Eee to your phone using the USB cable. Assuming that the phone then displays the “what connection mode” list, choose “PC Suite”. Keep the phone connected and powered up throughout the following steps.
- Bring up the “Network Connections” utility:
- In Easy Mode, choose the “Internet” tab, then the “Network” icon (not “Wireless Networks”).
- In Advanced Mode, there’s a Network icon in the “tasktray” at the bottom of the screen, where you bring up the menu and select “Configure Network Connections”.
- Alternatively, if there’s no icon in sight, fire up a Terminal (Ctrl-Alt-T) and enter “sudo kcontrol &” to bring up the KDE Control Center (sic), and select “Network/Network Connections”.
- Select the “Create” button.
- Choose “Dial-up” as the connection type.
- On the “Select Hardware” screen, you should see your phone listed as “/dev/ttyACM0”. If it’s not there, check the cable connection and the phone (is it switched on (!), in “PC Suite” mode, etc.). Select the phone from the list, and then the “Next” button.
- Enter “#99*” as the dialup number (this is standard for GPRS/3G “modem” dialup connections), and a single space as the username/password.
- Complete the wizard process, and don’t opt to auto-connect on boot, or connect straight away (we’re not ready yet).
- You now need to edit two files as per the EEEUser forum post, so go on over there and follow steps 5 and 6 🙂 (Note particularly the part about your phone’s data access point, as this depends on the network you’re using. If you can’t find this on your phone, you’ll need to do a Web search for your network “APN”; it shouldn’t take you long to find, but please don’t ask me!)
- Once you’ve saved and closed these two files, return to the “Network Connections” utility, highlight the new connection you’ve just set up, and select “Connection/Connect…”.
- If all goes well, you’ll see a dialogue box appear, reading “Initializing modem…”. (In my experience, this stage can take some time (20-30 seconds or so), so please be patient.)
- When connection is completed, the dialogue box will disappear and the connections utility will show that you are connected to the Internet via your phone.
(I must make it very clear once again that 95% of the hard work here was done by “Buxton” at the EeeUser Forum, and I have only added to his efforts above where I found my experience differed from the post, and where I felt some points needed making more clearly.)
A point or two to make from my testing so far:
- Be aware that unless your phone can access a 3G or 3.5G data network where you are, you’re going to find that Web pages, etc. load rather more slowly than they would via a home LAN/WLAN connection. If you only have GPRS or (worse) GSM data to call on, you’re about to get a history lesson in what the Web was like to access in the mid-1990s (i.e. at 56K modem speeds), except that the Web has become a whole lot more “bloated” in that time…
- Watch your data consumption, especially if you’re on a tight data limit with your network provider, and definitely if you’re roaming abroad. In fact, to be careful, I’d recommend you just don’t do the latter at all, unless you are very careful and know exactly what you’re doing, or else you could be hit with a heart attack-inducing bill when you come home!
- If you can access WiFi where you are, I’d do that instead…
However, this is a handy backup option to have if you and your Eee find yourselves out of reach of an access point. Hope this is useful, and if I get this working over Bluetooth in future, I’ll let you know.