Optus, 3 and Vodafone might claim to only support Windows and Macs with their wireless broadband systems, but in fact you can use any of them on a Linux Eee PC without special driver software. Here's the step-by-step guide to getting it set up for Australian 3G networks.
With wireless broadband prices getting cheaper and the range of options expanding,having an anywhere-you-go connection is appealing. Asus' Eee PC is also mega-portable, so it's natural to want to get it connected via a 3G network using a USB modem. Optus, 3 and Vodafone all use the same modem model, the Huawei E220, which is natively supported on the Eee PC, so getting it working is pretty straightforward. (We haven't yet found a reliable solution for using Telstra's Next G network, which in any case is the priciest of the choices at this writing.)
If you've purchased a 3G wireless broadband card, follow these steps to get it working on your Linux Eee PC (a wiser choice than Windows, I might add).
* Switch on your Eee PC (it's a good idea to start from a freshly booted machine), and make sure your USB modem is set up (that is, it has the SIM card installed).
* Switch off the wireless LAN if it's on (use Fn+F2); it will avoid confusion and extend your battery life.
* Plug in the modem via the USB cable. Experience suggests it's wise to wait 30 seconds or so before proceeding, to make sure the device has been recognised.
* Click on Network on the Internet tab in the ASUS Task Manager.
* Click on the Create button to launch the Connection Wizard.
* Select GSM/3G (UMTS)/HSDPA and click Next.
* In the Hardware Select Screen, the plugged-in modem will generally be selected by default. Click Next. (If no hardware appears, cancel the wizard, reboot and try again.)
* On the Network Registration screen, click Search to find networks in your area. This can take up to a minute. Once a list appears, select your provider and click Next.
* On the Login Data screen, select your operator (listed under Australia) from the Operator list. This will provide a suggested APN, User name and password, which should work in most cases. Click Next.
* In the next screen, you can name your connection ('Mobile Data Connection' is the default; you might want to add the provider name, or place a number in front to ensure it's at the top of the connection list.)
* That's all the setup needed. To test your system, select 'Start this connection when finished' and click Finish.
To connect for regular use, select Network from the Task Manager, click on your connection in the list, click on the Connection button, and select Connect.
Troubleshooting: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the modem will fail to connect properly. There are a few possible causes:
* Launching the connection before the modem has been recognised. Reboot and try again.
* If there's no signal in the area, then the connection won't work. Move around the house or outside to see if the signal improves.
* Try deleting the connection, rebooting and starting again — occasionally the process seems to not work for any detectable reason, but is perfectly workable on other occasions.
* The suggested User name and password don't always work. Try replacing the supplied suggestions with blanks (click on Properties under Networks to make changes). If that doesn't work, contact your provider and ask what the settings should be used.