Making wireless broadband work on the Eee PC

Making wireless broadband work on the Eee PC

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
,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.


  • This is excellent support, thanks. Wouldn’t it be great for Linux newbies like myself if Vodafone et al provided this information too! Cheers Chris

  • This method does not work for the Virgin Broadband Prepaid sim. Virgin needs PAP authentication during the connection process which the EEE’s network manager does not seem to support.
    I’m in the process of finding a solution to this,maybe a more flexible GUINetwork Manager for the EEE-PC with Asus version of Xandros.

  • yes thanks, I assume that to use Virgin I should select Optus, but it just doesn’t work for me… the setting for virgin – are they the same for optus ? Many seem to get it straight out of the box, guess I’m just unlucky. I tried it on my xp machine and the modem works fine, so I know it’s just a eee/linux issue and I see a lot on the net about fixing it but I’m just struggling to get the basics happening… someone else suggested using another version of linux might help. any suggestions are appreciated

  • Thanks Angus. In my case I can’t get the modem recognised by the Connect Wizard. I have tried a number of times rebooting as suggested but still no recognition of the hardware even though it is showing it is operational with power (green light).

  • You could give it a try, though Dodo doesn’t appear specifically on the list — you’d have to give it a try with the Optus option (Dodo resells Optus). Given Optus’ current network woes, I’d be a tad surprised if it worked, and given Dodo’s rock-bottom reputation for customer service, I can’t imagine any help from the source!

  • Hi Angus,
    Brand new ee pc, haven’t fiddled with any settings.
    Usingg optus Huaway E220. Followed your directions to a tea.
    Im getting dissapointed, without an internet connection these computers are a bit of a toy. What other options are out there?


  • I to cannot connect to the internet ,i have had this eeepc 4g surf for a month now and i have tried dodo wireless usb and telstra 3g and now i am trying the vodafone wireless without much luck ,i also followed your instructions to a tee but i think that i will just have to changed it over to windows as i just carnt get it working with linux.

  • I bought a prepaid Three E160G modem and no luck whatsoever. I tried my Virgin wifi too no luck. I then put my Three sim in my old Optus e220 wifi modem and didn’t work, until I rang three and they provided me with the correct APN which is 3services – it works a treat on a Asus eee pc i bought someone as a present. I suggest try picking up a cheap E220 wifi modem. They are early technology, but at least they work and should be cheap on ebay. Rob

  • i followed your instructions completely. but it didnt work. i decided that becauise it worked on a windows system. something must be wrong. so i kept changing things as i went through.
    i slept on it. and my prepaid phone decided to ask for a PIN number but i couldnt find the book, so i looked through the prepaid broadband book and found that it said an APN… so i tried changing the APN that came up to the one in the book for “using a different modem”
    and it worked.
    bottom line.
    if it doesnt work, after choosing the network in australia, optus only,
    change the APN from “internet” to preconnect and hopefully it should work =]

  • I have tried your suggestions with the Vodafone E220 model and no problems, however with their new usb k3715 model it seems to hang with the hourglass after selecting the GSM / #G(UMTS) / HDSPA

  • Purchased a Linux machine and Vodafone USB 3G service 16 Jan 09. JB Hi-Fi and VF said it works, followed all the instructions as noted on this page. IT DOES NOT WORK BEWARE. VF has changed the software in the USB and it will now only work with XP and Mac. Linux simply does not recognise the device. I’m sure it used to work in the past but not now. Caused a lot of mucking around getting a refund on the machine and canx a 2 year BB contract with Vodafone.

  • Only the classic cabled USB modem seems to work well with Linux — the stick models cause grief because of the way they work as a USB drive as well. This has been noted elsewhere on Lifehacker, but I’ll add a crosslink to this article as well.

  • Hi Angus, I’ve just picked up an eeepc 701 linux netbook dirt cheap – given it’s a year on from your original post, is the latest Optus wireless broadband stick modem worth giving a go or are there better options? Don’t want to install XP but dead keen to get internet asap. Thanks!

  • Hi Brent, just got a asus eee PC and could not connect with Virgin Broadband. Virgin said the Linux software doesn’t support it and have told me to take it back the retail and get my money back. Does anyone know what internet system does work on this software.

  • hi,
    had trouble working out how to install my e1762 from virgin. It would not ‘see’ it in new connection wizard. I fixed this by restarting with modem attached.. problem solved.
    Am still having trouble with apn, user name etc so still working on it 🙁

    • ok.. damn.. looks like it is going to connect then gets some authentication error.. 2 days on this now! groan!
      I have changed the pap/ chap settings as per other sites but still no good.
      Anyone help!
      eeepc 701, E1762 virgin

  • I have a eee701 with linux. Has anyone ever got one to work with dodo.For some reason I sense I am close but missing something.
    Below is the ‘details’ as I try to log on :
    Serial connection established.
    using channel 5
    Using interface ppp0
    Connect: ppp0 /dev/ttyUSB0
    sent [LCP ConfReq id=0x1 ]
    rcvd [LCP ConfReq id=0xc ]
    sent [LCP ConfAck id=0xc ]
    rcvd [LCP ConfAck id=0x1 ]
    sent [LCP EchoReq id=0x0 magic=0x13ec481c]
    rcvd [LCP DiscReq id=0xd magic=0xe904f2]
    rcvd [CHAP Challenge id=0x1 , name = “UMTS_CHAP_SRVR”]
    sent [CHAP Response id=0x1 , name = “guest”]
    rcvd [LCP EchoRep id=0x0 magic=0xe904f2 13 ec 48 1c]
    rcvd [CHAP Success id=0x1 “”]
    CHAP authentication succeeded
    CHAP authentication succeeded
    sent [CCP ConfReq id=0x1 ]
    sent [IPCP ConfReq id=0x1 ]
    rcvd [LCP ProtRej id=0xe 80 fd 01 01 00 0f 1a 04 78 00 18 04 78 00 15 03 2f]
    Protocol-Reject for ‘Compression Control Protocol’ (0x80fd) received
    rcvd [IPCP ConfNak id=0x1 ]
    sent [IPCP ConfReq id=0x2 ]
    Modem hangup
    Connection terminated.

    can anyone help…please?

  • Hi, just gotten a E1762 HSPA USB stick and trying to get it started with my eee pc netbook. Does not work at all. Tried to connect a new network at the connection wizard by clickings GSM/ 3G and click, but the select hardware page is blank.
    Anyone can help please?

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