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Linux and Cell Phones? 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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Linux and Cell Phones?

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  • 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 ...

  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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)


  • 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!

  • 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)
  • 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.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik