Novatel Ovation MC930D and Linux (Ubuntu)

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

[Quick answer: try eject /dev/sr1 (that’s probably what it’ll be if you have a CDROM, for me it was /dev/sr0, to confirm insert the dongle and check the last few lines of dmesg) as step zero for the Novatel Linux instructions.]

Gah, I got sick of having to use WinXP to get my mobile broadband. Last week I signed up with O2 and got a Novatel Ovation MC930D as part of my contract. Initially I had fairly low expectations for this being easy to get working in Linux. Then I found a page on the Novatel site explaining how to set up the device in linux. w00t! Oh, ah, not so fast…

I got to step 15 and didn’t get anything back from the modem query. To get this far I had chosen the USB product id of 0x5010, since that is what I saw when I plugged in the dongle. The page actually says I should use 0x4400 for my device, but I figured it was some sort of mistake since all I saw was 0x5010! There was more to it than that as well, I also had to remove the usbstorage driver first because it picked up the dongle as a storage device and created /dev/sr0 for it. No great surprise, it does have 64MB of flash available.

In the end further web searching found that the dongle is a “switch mode” USB device. I.e. if you poke it in the right ways it turns into different devices, changing its skin like a chameleon. This is a pretty slick set up for Windows installs, it simply looks like a memory stick. The trick is that it has an autorun.inf and when inserted takes you through the Novatel/O2 driver/software installation. Once the driver is installed the device is switched, and is automatically switched by the driver on future insertions.

There’s a tool for switching various USB devices, including my Novatel MC930D. It involves compiling and crap though, I do enough compiling as it is, ick.

Lucky me! There’s a note that mentions that the Novatel actually switches on a storage/SCSI ‘eject’ command. How about we try eject /dev/sr0? Gotya!

So, in the end I can recommend the official Novaltel Linux instructions linked to above. However, first insert this new “step 0”.

0. Execute: sudo eject /dev/sr0

When you do this the 1410:5010 USB device will vanish and in its place a 1410:4400 device will appear. From this point onwards the official Novatel instructions can be followed.

Note that I’m using an Ubuntu ‘gutsy’ system here, so YMMV.

If you’re wondering about other “fill in the blanks” for the Novatel setup page then here’s an answer-sheet for using the Novatel MC930D (maybe other devices too) with O2 (UK mobile provider):

  • Phone Number: *99***1#
  • Initialization String 2: AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""
  • Username: o2web
  • Password: password

What’s really insane is that the connection seems to be far more stable under Linux. On Windows it gives about 15 minutes of connectivity punctuated with 5 minutes of “not reachable.” I just got more than 3 hours out of the last Linux connection.

Underground, overground, dongling free,
The dongles of Dingledon Common are we

Now I can dongle in the middle of Wimbledon Common at 7.6Mbps with my “free” OS. Wombling free al’right.

2 thoughts on “Novatel Ovation MC930D and Linux (Ubuntu)”

  1. having trouble with the internet connection with nikos computer says server problem

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