Sunday, March 20, 2011

My first-break through with Linux - Installing Airtel 3G USB Stick

I recently started working on Linux. First step was easy - just bought Dell Vostro with pre-installed Ubuntu 8.04 and in 30 minutes I was using it for all activities like mail, facebook, blogging and google docs.

The real challenge came 2 days back when I bought AirTel 3G USB Stick for accessing Internet on the move. There was no ready-to-run package on the usb stick or any website or any single post/blog saying how to do it.

It took me six hours on sunday and it worked. So here is the details of the problems and the steps taken by me.

1. When I connect USB stick, ubuntu detects it and add two icons in 'computer' as removable hard disk (a 2 GB SD Memory card allow it to be used as pen drive) and CD ROM (which has programs for Windows and Mac to make it plug and play device).

2. Google search told me that 'lsusb' will tell me the usb device created by it. here is what 'lsusb' produced

Bus 002 Device 003: ID 12d1:1446 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

being a hardware guy I knew that this USB device has vendor id as 12d1 and product id as 1446.

3. Another google search said that  new generation of 3G sticks need a program called usb_modeswitch' to convert usb storgae device to modem.
used following link to download and install

I also knew that we need provide target vendor id and product id. This was not in the installed usb_modeswitch. It had lot of different usb sticks but not the huawei E173 sold by AirTel, 

4. Search for E173 usb_modeswitch gave me following command line 

sudo usb_modeswitch -v 0x12d1 -p 0x1446 -V 0x12d1 -P 0x140c -m 0x01 -M "55534243123456780000000000000011060000000000000000000000000000"

trying this command and then modifying etc/usb_modeswitch.conf to include above parameters to make it simpl to type worked.

I tested it by typing wvdialconf 

5. Last step is to create a network connection. In ubuntu, this is done by


and follow the instructions to create a network connection for AirTel (or any other service provider)

6. Even after you connect to AirTel network, I was not able to browse net as Automatic DNS servers for airtel were not working. Replaced them with OPEN DNS servers - Use and

These can be changed using

SYSTEMS | PREFERENCE | NETWORK CONNECTIONS | Mobile Broadband | Select AirTel 3G | Edit 



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