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Linux Mobile Tools for the Business Traveler - page 2

  • February 19, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

With the advent of EV-DO and other high-speed data services from the cell phone companies it has become even easier to stay always connected. Making one of the devices work with a Linux laptop might take a little work. The key is to check with your current or prospective cell phone provider to find out if they have any direct support for Linux machines. Sprint has a how-to document covering Redhat, openSUSE, Fedora, Knoppix and Ubuntu.

We tested the Novatel Ovation U760 USB EVDO modem on a Lenovo S10e netbook. The Sprint document has a section near the end on how to use wvdial to connect over PPP. We had to create a wvdial.conf file in the /etc directory and enter ten lines of configuration information to make the connection. Once done you have to launch the dialer from the command line with:


$ wvdial

If you happen to have a laptop with built-in mobile broadband and you're running Ubuntu 8.10, you'll have just about everything you'll need to connect virtually anywhere. With the Dell XPS M1330 we had to type in single line at a terminal prompt to get the built-in networking tool to recognize the internal modem:


$ sudo modprobe usbserial vendor=0x413c product=0x8134

This command works for the Dell Sprint mobile broadband card, although you can use the lsusb command to find the vendor and product id for your specific card. That command returns this string for the broadband card:


Bus 003 Device 002: ID
413c:8134 Dell Computer Corp. Wireless 5720 Sprint Mobile Broadband (EVDO
Rev-A) Minicard Status Port

While most netbooks have the customary track pad / buttons, they really can't hold a candle to an external mouse for serious web surfing. Logitech has a wide variety of Bluetooth mice to fit your every size and color need. On Ubuntu 8.10 you simply click on the Bluetooth icon to connect your Bluetooth mouse to the system. The Logitech mice have an on / off button along with a connect button on the bottom of the device. We had our mouse connected in under a minute. On the Lenovo S10e it requires another command line entry:


$ sudo hidd --search

End Notes

The domain of mobile computing does not belong exclusively to Microsoft. Linux offers a great choice and coupled with one of the latest netbooks often delivers the best price as well. The Lenovo S10e and many similar netbooks come preloaded with current releases of the most popular open source productivity software such as Open Office 3.0, Firefox 3.0, The GIMP and more.

You won't find a Windows-based product with the Microsoft equivalents for anywhere near the price of a Linux-based product. Security is another big concern for mobile users and Linux-based notebooks / netbooks aren't susceptible to the latest Windows virus. Go ahead and give one a try. You know you want to!


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