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Linux and Cell Phones?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the mobile-penguin-power dept.

Linux 27

Grouik asks: "Hello, Searching here and there for information about which Cell phone modems could be usable on my Dell linux laptop I discovered that there are very few people interested about that kind of stuff. Maybe it's just as hard as with winmodems? If somebody has successfully made such a device work with linux, please share with us!"

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Ericsson I888 World (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645347)

I'm right now connected to CompuServe via a GSM Cell Phone in Vancouver B.C. Up to now GSM only supports 9600 bps. I'm using a Sony Vaio PCG-F190 an Ericsson I888 World GSM Telephone a Swisscom (yep I'm from Switzerland) GSM card the carrier is called MCEll but I had VStream (Seattle) running as well. The Telephone is connect via Infrared to the Laptop. -> Easy handling. However, since I bought both the Laptop and the Phone a few days before my vacation it still run WIN98. I will see how good it runs on Linux. However, I don't think that it acts like a WinModem. Up to now no problems in sight. Markus

Nokia 6185 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645348)

The Nokia 6185 is relatively cheap ($180).

I just got mine from SprintPCS. []

It has a built in modem, and allegedly will function as a wireless modem via standard AT commands. I haven't verified this, yet. All suppliers of the necessary cables are on backorder.

Ericsson Mobiles/Modems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645349)

I have an Ericsson 788e (GSM) which came with a free DI27 IR modem which works a treat with my Palm IIIx - responds to AT commands, PPP connection etc. I haven't got Linux IR working, so I can't test it with Linux Yet. I believe that the DI 27 works with all 6XX and 7XX phones plus the T18 and possibly others. I know the Nokia 51XX and 61XX don't have real modems, but I think the 88XX does. I don't know about the 38XX and the 81XX.

Woody / Sydney, Australia

Cellular standards in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645350)

I have had two problems trying making (any) systems work with cellular modems: (1) the available of modem hardware, and (2) the availability of service suppliers supporting data or SMS.

You'll need hardware which works with your service provider. There are currently THREE popular cellular network infrastructures in the US: CDMA, TDMA, and GSM, although there are others also. Unfortunately US's GSM is not compatible with Europe's uses a different frequency. Here in Puerto Rico, we follow the US implementation of "no standard" and have both CDMA and TDMA.

The only good modem hardware which I have seen is currently available only for Europe's GSM, although you can use the data port of a standard cellular phone, when you can find the cables. Cellular phones do not necessarily make good modems. They do not currently automatically recognize an incoming data or fax call and send it to the serial port. Instead, the user must use clairvoyance to select a menu option saying "Next incoming call is fax", "Next incoming call is data", "Next outgoing call is fax", or "Next outgoing call is data". From a professional point of view, this is a only a toy.

Even if you cellular phone has hardware support, your service supplier may not support data connections. I have cellular phones now that respond to AT, but can't complete a call with ATDT because the service supplier DOES NOT CURRENTLY OFFER data connection support. There are several reasons for this. First, due to compression used in voice connections, data connections are much more bandwidth-hungry. If your service provider is still scrambling to put up enough antenneas to cover your area completely, he is not not interested in bandwidth-hungry fringe users.

Second, CDMA is about to get a boost from new transceiver hardware (due out end of this year) to boost the currently supported data rates from 14Kb to 64Kb for data connections. That means next year you would want a new CDMA modem anyway, so there's not point in doing it this year.

I believe there are similar data rate limitations and plans for enhancements in the other cellular infrastructures, although I have not information on that.

As far as your service provider goes, his sales force is largely untrained and struggling to keep up with the releases of new products as they come out. Most of them are not capable of digesting and explaining the in's and out's of data connections. Nor do they have the technical gurus found at your local ISP. I know of a case of a cellular company buying an ISP, and I suspect that that is / will be happening around the country.

Your service provider may also offer a service called Short Message Service, or SMS. This is the technology that makes two-way-beepers possible, and it promises to be a VERY cheap way to send short strings of messages (180 byte) back and forth with equipment.

For more info on SMS, check out They also have some info on equipment if you dig deeply into the site and links.

other wireless solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645351)

Linux users in the Bay Area, DC area, Seattle,
and maybe some other places can use the
Ricochet wireless service. Access is
unlimited, doesn't use any telephone, and
connects from any ppp-capable OS with "ATDT777*".
Unfortunately most people get dynamic
IP assignments. Also it's a bit slower
than dialup, depending where you are.
I've also found it doesn't work reliably
from a moving car or train.

Well, you can apparently do this in Houston. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645352)

I have a Nokia 5120 and I am getting a 3Com 3CXM756 (with the NOK6 cable). That will apparently work with Linux, according to 3Com, specifically with Linux with cell phones. Apparently it works with the normal PCMCIA code right now. I spent pushing two and a half hours on the phone with them (hung up on twice, talked to ten, count 'em ten people, and had to go to managers to get any information)(they referred to Red Hat scripts, told me that there were no such things as drivers for Linux -- no, I don't know what they meant either, and basically tried to BS me), so I have to say that I am less than exited with their sick and twisted concept of "customer service," but it will be worth it, even at 9600 baud. I would like to beat eight people at 3Com with a clue-by-four until they cannot say "Duh" any more, but that is more of a personal issue.

Re:Qualcomm Cell Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645353)

Sorry for AC.. We only have Sprint (uh, I mean Wordlcom) CDMA here in the midwest (KS) and their local retail store claims that the data/internet service will only work with a subscription to the Sprint EarthLink internet service. The last post (from Myrcurial) made it sound like we can dial into anything (our ISP!) as long as we have the 4 bar signal in a digital area?? That would be great since the Sprint PCS phones in our area include free domestic long distance. Don't want to buy the data kit if this isn't the case.. so can we dial our ISP with this cable or not!? Free nationwide access to my ISP would rock! Thanks for any feedback! Jason

PCMCIA modems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1645354)

Take a look at ml for supported PCMCIA modem cards.

GSM Data (i.e. CSD) ? (1)

euroderf (47) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645355)

Dang, I'm in late on this discussion.

Forget the US market, there's too many "standards". And who needs snap-on modems ?
Inquiring European minds want to know, what about the GSM data capability that already lives in so many GSM phones ?

  • Does anyone have a pointer to any tech reference info ?
  • Do all GSM-data-capable phones have a TCP/IP stack that can run PPP ?
  • Do all mobile operators support GSM data ?
  • What is the basis for pricing, is it connect time or volume transfered ?
  • Can there be an incoming GSM data call, or does the handset always initiate a connection ?
  • Is there any subscriber info available for a GSM data connection ?
  • Is there a way to connect a GSM phone to a Linux box ?
  • If so, can I emulate an SMSC on Linux ?
  • Why does one brand of WAP phone (who shall remain unnamed) have a data channel, and also run WAP over SMS bearer, but not run WAP over PPP bearer ?
    • So many questions, so little time ...

Integrated PC-card phones (1)

ESD (62) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645356)

I am also thinking about getting a GSM phone with integrated PC-card for emergency connections to work. The only problem is the lack of information about using data capabilities (do they use normal AT commands or do they need special software?).

My thoughts go to a Nokia or Ericsson phone which has to be connected to the serial port of my laptop (my PCMCIA ether/modem does not have a digital connection and a dedicated card is WAY too expensive). Does anybody know how good these phones are?

GSM-based stuff (1)

Bud (1705) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645357)

If you have GSM connectivity where you live, try the Ericsson I888 GSM phone. It's got a built-in IrDA modem which is quite good. I've mainly used it with Psion and Palm handheld computers, but I can't see why it wouldn't work with Linux too --- assuming that the IR port on your laptop works under Linux, which isn't always the case.

There are other IrDA GSM phones on the market nowadays, at least here in Europe. The Siemens S25 and Motorola TimePort spring to mind and the Nokia 7710 will be released RSN. I've tried the S25 and found that it works fine. Ericsson also has a snap-on IrDA modem (DI27, DI28) which makes most Ericsson phones talk infrared.

You can also buy PCMCIA cards with built-in GSM phones. Some manufacturers that spring to mind are Nokia, Ericsson and Option International ( I believe PCMCIA is better supported under Linux than IrDA, so if you're mainly concerned about data connectivity this may be a better choice.


Qualcomm Cell Phones (2)

GeorgeH (5469) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645358)

Some Qualcomm cellphones [] are "data capable." From what I've been able to glean, this means that there is a cable [] which plugs into your cellphone, and on the other end is a standard 9 pin serial port. When you send "AT\n" over your computer's serial port, it will respond with "OK\n". When I first heard about this, I very nearly cried.

Unfortunatly, I've never been able to confirm with anyone that this works properly, or even at all. Most of Qualcomm's information says "Coming soon, check with your carrier." Anyone else know anything about this?


Nokia phones (1)

Minatook (6216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645359)

I've done a little research in this area when trying to get my mobile to talk to my Palm IIIx. From what I understand the Nokia 6110 and (possibily 51xx series phones too) support PC to phone communications but only with special software to drive the phone (similar to WinModems). Basically the phone is dumb and only provides the minimum hardware and software to allow for network connections. The PC driver software does all the grunt work. This makes the phone cheaper and simpler but also means access to it is closed. The Nokia 8110 and possibily others however has a true built-in modem that any PC software should be able to use (via cable or IR) with AT commands.

Re:Integrated PC-card phones (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645360)

I have a Bosch 909, and that also uses the serial port, but I haven't gotten the cable yet...

My understanding is that you are limited to about 9kBPs... nothing fancy, but enough for telnet...

CDPD is the way to go (1)

Royster (16042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645361)

I use a Sierra Wireless Aircard in my Mitsubishi Amity laptop. It speaks CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) to my provider which gives me an IP address directly routed to the Internet for a flat monthly fee from Bell Atlantic Mobile.

To get it to run under Linux, I acquired a diff to the PCMCIA sources [] to add support for the card. Patch, make, make install and then some additional futzing with minicom and the Aircard reference manual to learn how to load my IP address into the card.

I can now read and send email and surf the web from the Long Island Rail Road for $25/month.

Here's a link [] to more information on Linux and CDPD.

Re:GSM Data (i.e. CSD) ? (1)

leandrod (17766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645362)

If you use just Lynx, email and file transfers
it is quite enough... it is images and plugins
which slow the Net.

Re:GSM Data (i.e. CSD) ? (2)

krakan (23581) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645363)

I have an Inspiron laptop with a PCMCIA modem that supports "normal" phoneline, ISDN and GSM. Unfortunately you have to pay ~$180 each for the connector cables for ISDN and GSM. :-\

Apart from the price it works like an ordinary modem; the IP-stack lives on the laptop so you can run any OS you like (Linux in my case). In theory you can use any cell phone; only thing is that there has to be a suitable connector and a cable.

As it works like a normal modem you'll pay per minute; "free" numbers (1-800 et al.) aren't free when you call from a cell phone though.

For incoming calls you have to have a special data line subscription from the cell net operator.

And, yeah, the major draw back: it's only 9600 bps; enough only if you're desperate...

Nokia cellulars and Linux (1)

andri (23774) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645364)

There is a project with the aim of supporting Nokia phones under Linux - Gnokii [] .
It worked with my Nokia 5110 and a colleague's 6110, can't say anyhing about other (5130, 5190 and othes sold in the US) phones.
It doesn't support data calls yet. It will soon.

Fido's Data Services (1)

carbon60 (25116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645365)

I'm in Ottawa, where Fido is offering data services on its Nokia 5190 for a 5$ CDN monthly charge. However, only Windows is supported. I thought the software was special, but from one of the posts above, I'm going to try straight serial line.

Send me some mail if you're interested in my findings.


Adam Sherman

Re:Qualcomm Cell Phones (1)

Myrcurial (26138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645366)

I have one of these (2700) and it's on the "Bell Mobility" network in Southwestern Ontario. It appears to the system as a pretty standard 19,200 or 14.4 modem. Most all AT commands work (well, not the ones that are unimportant.) Couple of "gotchas": 1/ Only works in digital mode. 2/ You -need- 4 bars on the signal strength meter. This is not so easy to find. Luckily, I live about a kilometre from a tower. 3/ There is a hefty CDN$0.15/minute surcharge over your normal minute rate (even on my plan - 700 minutes a month - you need the 1000 minute plan to escape the fee.) Given all the above, its a good deal. Not much for web-speed downloads, but sure is nice to telnet from anywhere. I've used it with my laptop running both win95 (job requirement) and Trinux (cool tool) with no problem. I've also used it with my nifty HP680 palmtop (the ultimate in portable sysadmin'ing.) It comes with some windows software to let you control the phone from your windows desktop (why?) and some useful software to load the phone's memory without typing on the number keys for hours. Out of all the gagety things I own, this one rates a 10 for utility and a 10 for gee whiz factor and a 4 for price.

Re:Fido's Data Services (1)

drcpu (44688) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645367)

Actually, the Nokia 5190 (and 6190) does not have a built in data (GSM) modem. That's why you need the Nokia Data Suite to allow your Wintel machine to communicate with your phone. It acts like a softmodem.

Only Windows is support since the official Nokia Data Suite only comes in Windows 3.x, 95/98, and NT flavor. I believe CE devices will be supported soon (either alone by Nokia and/or Fido/Microcell Solutions will pick it up). Any other OS, unless you can emulate the function of NDS, you're out of luck.

(Incidentally, there are other packages and drivers such as Option's Snap-On, TDK's GlobalPulse, etc. that will work since it's preforming the softmodem function.)

Tools are available for Linux (1)

RallyDriver (49641) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645368)

I think that using digital mobile phones for data in the US is relatively beta technology, but in Europe with GSM it's a mainstream service.

In Europe omputer utility software falls in two main areas - one is interfacing to the phone in order to use it as a wireless dialup, the other is for interfacing to GSM-SMS messaging systems (c.f. paging). This is one of the main uses of "GSM cellphone on a PCI card" type gadgets.

All but the basic GSM phones have a built in Hayes-compatible (ATDT) "modem" (remember, it's all digital here). So you just need cabling; older/basic ones need a data interface which you can get in the form of a PCMCIA card that looks like a generic modem to the laptop's OS.

I know of several people in the UK who run an SMSemail gateway on their home PC's; most of these run Linux.

Novatel Wireless (1)

Local Loop (55555) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645369)

Check out [] .

They make CDPD modems that work over regular cellular bands. I'm using the expedite developer board, which is really just the guts of their consumer products, and it works great.

The cool thing is that it works just like a regular modem, with AT commands, but you have to use PPP (it actually takes over the other side of the PPP conversation itself, transparently).

One small inconvenience is that it only works at 19,200.

They also have windows "modem drivers" for it, but it should be no problem to set it up using chat under linux. Basically you just say "AT\APPP" in place of the "ATDT0001112222" dial string, and then just start talking PPP.

Oh yeah, you also get a static IP with it, just to make life more interesting!


P.S. I have no relationship with this company, other than satisfied customer.

Motorola L7089 (1)

gcallow (69402) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645370)

I've got a Motorola L7089 which comes with an in-built modem which is accessed through its IR-Port. Means you don't have to outlay any money on a connecting cable or PCMCIA card. I havn't actually tried this under Linux but I have had it working on a laptop under Win98 and a Psion handheld. It does seem to have a fairly complete AT command set and it is a proper modem (not a WinModem). Providing you can set up the IRDa port as a serial port under Linux you shouldn't have any problems (Sorry, I havn't got a laptop with Linux on it)



GSM phones with built in modems (1)

dod1 (93799) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645371)

I have a Alcatel One Touch Pocket [] - this phone has a built in modem, and reasonably cheap 9 pin serial cable available (around 40 UK pounds as best as I remember). I have only it so far with M$ Win95, but using standard modem drivers it works fine, and understands most of the AT command set when using HyperTerminal. Only draw back apart from the usual 9600 speed it that it does not support hardware handshaking.

I have been using this with my laptop to connect to the net for the past few months - slow but usable. Thanks to Cellnet's current offer I am able to do this for free off-peak (2 landline numbers free off-peak till the end of the year).

Another phone I had considered was the Mondial ML808, I belive this also has a built in modem and is even supplied with the serial cable. I am sure the web site was - but it seems to have gone now - so may be the phone is no loner avalible...

One phone to be cautious of is the Ericson SH888, although this can be connected via a serial cable it will still want to use the infared protocols!

SprintPCS (1)

Hogarth (98887) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645372)

Well, the most recent digital data solution available in North America, CDMA data, is now
more or less a reality.

SprintPCS's TouchPoint phone supports data connections that were recently flipped on in almost all of Sprint (or should I say Worldcom) PCS's markets.

It's currently 14.4kbps, highly overpriced ($0.20/minute in packages, $0.39/minute a la carte), but still pretty cool.

I've not tried to configure it for Linux, but the manual includes support and directions for PalmOS, stating merely to hook it up via serial, and use the following modem preferences:
Modem - Standard
Speed - 14,400
Speaker - Off
Flow Ctl - Automatic
String - AT&FX4
Dial type - Touchtone

and program in your usual ISP's PPP settings and voila.

I'm pretty sure this would work equally well with Linux. :) I'll try it from home soon, and let you all know how it works. (on my RedHat5.2+KDE box)

Re:Novatel Wireless (1)

Ouch! (99452) | more than 14 years ago | (#1645373)

Who are you using as a carrier? The novatel people seem very clued in but the people at goamerica suffered from a serious case of NFC.
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