Wireless Broadband on Fedora

I decided it was time to add broadband to my mobile setup. So I have signed up with Optus (Australia’s number 2 phone and internet supplier for non Aussie readers). As part of the package they supplied a Huawei E169 USB modem. It uses the 3G/GSM network to provide wireless broadband across much of Australia or at least the settled parts.

So how to get it working with Linux? As usual the phone companies deny it will work but what do they know? First I set it up installing the supplied sim card. Next after turning off wi-fi on the laptop I plugged the modem in. It recognised it as a USB device and asked what I wanted to do with it. I elected “do nothing” and then clicked on the Network Manager icon in the panel.

Network Manager showed the GSM device and offered to connect. I clicked and SELinux gave an error and blocked the action. After setting SELinux to permissive I tried again. The light flashed encouragingly and I opened Firefox and surfed away. It was literally that easy.

I expected to fiddle for a while but no it all worked boringly easily. I’m using it to post this now. Only “problem” so far is getting Conky to display the connections details. If only everything was that simple but then I wouldn’t have much to talk about here would I?


Author: Jim

A sixty something living in the Hawkesbury Valley on the edge of Sydney Australia.

9 thoughts on “Wireless Broadband on Fedora”

  1. Well done Jim, it is so satisfying (and certainly to me, surprising) when stuff works so easily. I wish I had your knowledge of these matters but never had or made the chance to learn. I guess I spent time on other stuff. Good work!

  2. Hi Adam

    I don’t claim to have much knowledge. It is just a matter of trial and error. Although I usually do a bit of research first. I was confident this would work from what I had read elsewhere but I was surprised it worked as easily as it did.

    I think you got it right when you said “made the chance to learn”. It is just a matter of giving it a go. But then I can’t draw like you can and I think that would take more than “giving it a go”.


  3. Ha, boringly easy, I know what you mean. Sometimes I find myself secretly disappointed when something just works.

    When I’m away from an available wifi connection I use my mobile phone, which can act in exactly the same way as your USB modem, basically dialing a number and giving a username and password. Your modem does this automatically, with a mobile phone you have to tell the network manager that it’s a dial-up modem and give the appropriate details. It’s what I used to do in openSUSE after seeing how my housemate’s USB modem worked with his MAC, and realising that his modem was nothing more than a phone without keys or a screen. My current mobile, however, has an option in it’s settings to automatically connect upon USB connection. With this enabled it connects as a “wired connection” simply by plugging it in. At least, it does in Fedora and Debian (my favoured distros).


  4. It is a bit disappointing when you are ready to spend some time to get something working and it works first time! I had researched a bit and thought I would have to make some changes to phone number etc. but no it was fine.

    There is a big difference in costs between mobile broadband with the USB modem and internet through your phone with Australian suppliers. Don’t know why because as you say they are the same thing. As an aside the instructions with the modem shows how to move the sim card to a phone and use that but doesn’t recommend doing it often because of possible wear and tear to the card.

  5. Here in the UK my current supplier, the 3 network, have an optional add-on for mobile broadband. I get 3GB for £15 a month, which might seem steep to some but the freedom it provides is worth every penny in my opinion.

  6. I’m not sure what the current exchange rate is but I get 5GB for $au39 including the modem for free. The coverage is improving too. We only got coverage earlier this year when both local cell bases were updated.

  7. Of course, there’s nothing worse than doing something that should be difficult really easily in front of an audience; then they think there’s nothing special about what you just did! 😛

  8. I’m not sure everything is easier but many things are. Of course you do have greater control but with that sometimes comes complexity. Fortunately this wasn’t one of those cases.
    Thanks for dropping by.

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