Thursday, October 8, 2009

Linux Broadband2Go Novatel Cell Modem

On a previous episode of I Heart Robotics the weblog, I suggested that the Broadband2Go pre-paid cellular data plan looked pretty interesting. Unfortunately getting these things working under Linux can sometimes be tricky. It also reminds me of one xkcd comic or another.

So apparently Linux is supported, and it's not. I won't get these hours of my life back, but at least now you won't waste time as well. The truth is...

Actual support seems to be coming in Linux kernel 2.6.31 which is shipping with Ubuntu 9.10 in 21 days! The bug id is here.

Additionally, the Novatel Ovation MC720 supposedly has built-in GPS, which may or may not work. However, I can't see any satellites at the moment. It also has support for an external antenna for extended range.

How to get Linux Broadband2Go working

  1. Boot into windows, start it in a vm or whatever...
  2. Unplug and/or disable all of your network connections. If you don't windows gets confused.
  3. Insert usb cell modem
  4. Install windows drivers from virtual cdrom drive
  5. Struggle with the horrible Virgin Mobile usa website. If the Top-Up card does not work as payment try logging out and logging back in. It may help to rewatch Colbert throwing water at Richard Branson. The Virgin Mobile site is pretty bad.
  6. After finally activating your account, eject the Broadband2Go cdrom. This triggers some USB magic which starts the serial ports.
  7. modprobe -r usbserial
  8. modprobe usbserial vendor=0x1410 product=0x6002
  9. Network manager should now show 3 CDMA connections
  10. Select the first one, one of the others should be GPS.
  11. Done!

The Sprint linux setup guide is also pretty good and has how to disable multifunction device CD Mode.

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