[ubuntu-uk] laptops and broadband dongles

Alan Bell alan.bell at theopenlearningcentre.com
Fri Sep 4 09:45:25 BST 2009

Rob Beard wrote:
> Matt Jones wrote:
>> If he is only going to use it a small amount, then Vodafone offer the
>> best deal, top up £15 for 1GB. Then use it until it runs out. With
>> everyone else, your 1GB of data only lasts 30days, even if you haven't
>> used it all.
>> Most of the dongles are plug and play, I'm not sure about the
>> Vodaphone one though, as the field has developed so quickly, then the
>> drivers aren't in Ubuntu yet for the most modern ones.
>> Do you have a link to the laptop?
>> Matt.
> I can confirm the Vodafone modem is supported.  Once it's configured 
> (which is just a case of following a wizard and selecting the provider 
> in the case of the Vodafone Pay As You Go modem you'd select "Vodafone 
> Topup and Go") then all you do is simply plug the modem in wait about 10 
> seconds, click the network manager icon in the task bar and select the 
> Vodafone connection.
> I can't remember if the Vodafone modems have a money back guarantee or 
> not, if not it's worth at least checking the coverage maps on Vodafone's 
> web site to make sure you are in an area which is covered at least by 3G 
> (ideally HSDPA).
> Rob
The networks don't make dongles, they just rebrand them, and change the
hardware and supplier from time to time so there is no "vodaphone
dongle" as such. The main manufacturers you will come across are Huawei,
Option and ZTE and this will be printed somewhere on the underside of
the dongle in very small faint text. They really are quite simple
devices when they are working. They are basically modems and talk old
school Hayes AT commands. They tend to be seen as a few serial ports,
one for data, one for commands, sometimes some extra ones for reasons
that are not always apparent. The difficulty is that they start out in
useless mode, pretending to be a CDRom drive containing drivers for
defective operating systems that don't properly support them. These
drivers then flip the dongle into sensible modem mode and then carry on.
The crazy thing is that all the dongles have different commands to turn
them into modems and every time a new one comes out a new rule has to be
added to support it. The defective operating systems are fine as the
drivers and rules don't come with the operating system but are on the CD
when it is in useless mode. I guess it would be nice if the CD contained
a little text file in a standard place with the command to flip it, or
if they just didn't do the stupid fake CD thing at all.

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