Mobile Boost

I’ve mentioned before that I have a mobile (aka. wireless but not to be confused with wifi)) broadband modem I use when I am out and about. It is very useful for things like meetings and when travelling. One problem I have found though is that there are some areas that don’t have good coverage. I often use it at a friends place and there the signal is quite variable. Sometimes it will work but usually it won’t maintain a connection there.

In an attempt to solve this I recently purchased an antenna for the modem. Some modems have a port to plug in an antenna and fortunately my Huawei E169 does. It arrived in a couple of days which is great service. I plugged it in and the signal strength seemed higher and steadier. It has a desktop base and a clip that will clip to the netbook’s screen. It fitted well without touching the actual screen too.

The real test came a few days later when I was at my friends place again. I was able to connect and maintain a workable connection. A great improvement. I don’t use it all the time but in the places I need it it is invaluable.

I don’t say it will allow a connection everywhere but in areas where there is a signal but it isn’t strong enough to use the antenna will make a difference.

Fedora 12

I have been trying out the new verison of Fedora since it was released a couple of weeks ago. This version is more of a evolutionary update rather than a major change, at least in KDE. F12 comes with the same version 4.3.2 that F11 was running. An update to 4.3.3 has been released for both versions since then.

That is not to say there haven’t been changes just that the majority are behind the scene improvements. A list of the changes are on the release notes.

Moblin Added

One of the changes to F12 is the release of Moblin for Fedora. Unfortunately it is currently based on Moblin 2.0 instead of the current 2.1. I installed it on my netbook and gave it a run for a few days. It is obviously in the early stages of development as some of the basic features are missing. There is no way to log out for example.

I liked the basic concept but don’t think it is quite ready for day to day use yet. I went back to KDE.

Network Manager

For a few versions now Fedora has worked well with Mobile Braodband but this verison includes some big changes in that area.

One big improvement is the provision of preset configuration for many Broadband providers. When you connect for the first time it asks you for your country and isp as well as type of service and then it connects with the correct setup.

It seems to work well. However one problem, probably not associated with the changes, is it is not possible to reconnect should you disconnect. You need to unplug the modem and plug it back in again. An irritation but not a major problem unless you are working in an area with poor reception.

Nvidia Cards

The open source nvidia driver nouveau has been improved for this version. Reports are that it is much more stable than previous versions. It still doesn’t do 3d so you need to install the propriety drivers if you want Google Earth, desktop effects or other 3d apps. There is a how to on the Guide section of the Fedora Forums. There is some extra steps due to a new version of x.org.

Atom Processors

Atom processors are common in netbooks and this version of Fedora has been optimised for them. I noticed some improvement in the performance of my netbook. I am using KDE on there now and find it is performing so well I haven’t felt the need to install Xfce which I did in F11.

Overall I would say this is a good update of Fedora especially if you use netbooks or Mobile Broadband. If you are using F11 and it is working fine for you there is no hurry to update though.

Fedora, Mobile Broadband and Conky

It was over 12 months ago that I blogged about using my Optus mobile broadband with Fedora. I’ve noticed there have been a few searches on that subject recently so I thought it was about time I updated.

With Fedora 11

When I first plugged the 3g modem in it generated a SELinux error and I had to set SELinux to permissive to get it working. That is no longer the case with Fedora 11. Nor does it load the modem as an usb drive. It is recognised as a modem and Network Manager just handles it.

I must add that this seems to apply only to Fedora. I have tried it in Mandriva and Ubuntu derivatives like Gos and only Mint has worked.

This will improve in Fedora 12 with a new feature that will automatically set up the requirements for each provider. Looks like a great feature for those who need to change the default settings.

Working with Conky

Conky is a very useful system monitor. I have often thought of doing a post on Conky but in the interim I’ll just talk about monitoring the Mobile Broadband.

When I firstĀ  set up the Mobile Broadband I couldn’t get Conky to report on it. I tried “dmesg | grep usb” and it reported that the modem was using ttyUSB0, ttyUSB1 and ttyUSB2. However none of these would report any activity. Searching around I found that these were redirecting to ppp0. I can’t remember where I found this but it has been consistent across multiple Fedora versions and computers. I can now see the current activity on the Internet connection.

If it is useful here is the code I added to my .conkyrc to get it working

${color0}INTERNET $color(${addr ppp0}) ${color0}${hr 2}$color
${color1}Down:$colorĀ  ${downspeed ppp0} KB/s${alignr}${color1}Up:$color ${upspeed ppp0} KB/s
${downspeedgraph ppp0 25,120 color1 color2} ${alignr}${upspeedgraph ppp0 25,120 color1 color2}$color
${color1}Downloaded: $color${totaldown ppp0} $alignr ${color1}Uploaded: $color${totalup ppp0}

Hope that helps.

Fedora breaks Mobile Broadband

I have blogged a couple of times regarding my 3g Mobile broadband from Optus. It is usually reliable at least recently but still the quality is variable. However a couple of days ago it broke completely and for once it wasn’t Optus’ fault.

Fedora is a leading edge distro and so regular updates are common. Sometimes these updates can be a bit buggy. Very occasionally something breaks in a big way. That is what happened with a recent update of NetworkManager.

Now I know NM has its critics but I have found it always works for me. I have used it with wired and wireless networks and with wireless broadband. This is the first time it has failed completely.Fortunately I only updated one computer. The desktop was still running the old version so I had a computer I could use.

I posted on the forums about it and although several others reported similar problems no one had a solution. So it was back to the earlier version. I downloaded version 0.7.0-1 and replaced 0.7.0.99 with it. Now back on line.

I have kept a copy of the rpms so if I update again by mistake I can fix it. It will let me test any further updates of NM too so I won’t be stuck again.