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Using O2 Pay As You Go broadband dongle under Ubuntu Netbook Remix


This is a step-by-step guide to getting

an O2 Pay As You Go mobile broadband dongle working under Ubuntu

Netbook Remix. Install should be as simple as plugging in the device

and selecting the provider. Unfortunately the configuration settings

for O2 appear to have changed and so it now needs a few changes to

the settings before it will connect.

The configuration of other Ubuntu /

Gnome based distributions will be very similar although it may look

slightly different to the screenshots provided.

The setting information is specific to

O2, but the process will be the same if using a different provider.

This may also change with different versions of the broadband dongle

and/or updated service offerings. The specific version used is the


E160 purchased during 2009.

Hardware support and detection

The hardware consists of an

external USB dongle with SIM card. This can be plugged into a

suitable USB port and is auto-detected. There is no specific driver

for the E160 but it is instead detected as a Huawei Technologies E220

/ E270 HSDPA/HSUPA Modem which works fine. It is common for hardware

manufacturers to make small changes to the dongles, but if it is

based on the same basic chipset then it will normally still work.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix has a

short wizard which will set-up using the default settings. This is

done by simply selecting the local country “Britain”,

provider and broadband plan (using Prepaid for pay as you go). If

this works then feel free to continue, but most likely this will

provide the now out-of-date settings that do not work with the newer

model dongles.

Configuring Network Settings

To configure the broadband modem

settings choose the Network Connections application from the System


Network Connections in Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Choose the “Mobile broadband”


Mobile broadband - Network Connections on Ubuntu Linux

If you have already tried the wizard

then it will display o2 Prepaid in the form. Select this and choose


If not then click Add to create a new


You will be asked if you would like to

provide access to the keyring. This is a security feature of Ubuntu

where password settings are stored on a secure keyring which you can

protect with a password. I selected Always Allow, but you could just

Allow Once if you preferred to have to approve each time you make a

configuration change.

Ubuntu Linux keyring

You are now presented at the

configuration page which allows the settings to be entered.

Network Connections - Broadband connection details for O2 - Ubuntu Linux

Details should be entered as follows:

Number: *99# (this is the virtual phone

number that the dongle connects to)

Username: o2bb (this is the generic

username for the O2 mobile broadband)

Password: password (enter the word

“password”. This is a generic password)

APN: (this is the APN

address for o2 broadband)

Network: (leave blank)

PIN: (leave blank unless you have

manually added a PIN to the SIM)

Show passwords (optional) – this

is selected in the screen-shot to allow the password to be shown. If

unchecked then the password field will show * characters instead.

Available to all users: Tick (this

appears to be required even if you only use the same login as used to

configure the settings).

Note that this is the part that is

specific to O2. For other providers then details will need to be

obtained from the service provider.

These settings were found from the Mac

instruction manual provided for the broadband dongle, you can also

find the configuration details for some providers through Google.

Apply these settings and the

configuration is now complete. You can now close the configuration


Connecting to the Network

Once the configuration is complete connecting is as simple as

choosing the network icon in the system tray and choosing “o2


This is the small aerial icon located to the left of the time and

date. The icon may look slightly different depending upon the Theme

chosen, but should still be recognisable as such (also note that

depending upon your hardware you may not have the bluetooth icon

which is shown immediately to the left of the networking icon on my


Networking tray icon on Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Assuming there is a suitable service

in your area it should then connect to the network. In a 3G area this

will be at broadband speeds (eg. 2Mb). If there is no 3G signal, but

there is a mobile phone signal then the speed will be much slower

(9.6kb – for GSM). This is painfully slow – although O2

does appear to provide a basic level of image compression which helps


Further Reading


review O2 Mobile Broadband (Huawei E160 USB Dongle)


less detailed mini-tutorial configuration O2 Mobile Broadband for


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