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RobF (Offline)
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Default Tchibo/O2 surf stick w. Huawei E173 - install in Win & Linux -> lost Internet - 20-10-2011, 15:29

Purchased a Tchibo mobil Internet-Stick with locked Tchibo/O2 SIM card. The hardware is a Huawei E173u-1 USB 3G-modem. Installed the thing in WinXP on two computers and then also in Arch Linux on one of these computers. Got the modem working without a hitch in all three systems, had good Internet access over the HSPA and UMTS nets.

Then after I'd used the surf stick in Linux, put it back into one of the WinXP computers: no more Internet access. Same in the other Windows system and in the Linux system.

In all three systems the stick was properly initialized and I was able to obtain a stable HSPA or UMTS link to the access point. But from there on the line to the Internet was dead. I was given an IP address and could ping that but I wasn't able to ping the gateway, DHCP server, DNS servers. Also couldn't ping Google or Amazon, neither their hostnames nor their IP addresses.

Called the Tchibo mobil hotline: My new Tchibo mobil account was good, there was no block on it, and I had plenty of high-speed data volume available. They also claimed there was no known UMTS connectivity problem in my area (but they're saying that may not mean much).

For at least the next 40 hrs I had no Internet access. Then I exchanged the surfstick at the store and installed the new one in one of the WinXP systems. Bingo, I was back on the Internet.

So what had gone wrong with the first stick/installs? Did some network settings that perhaps are stored on the stick or at the ISP's side get corrupted between setting up and using the stick in Windows and Linux? Did the SIM-locked stick get blocked by the provider after it had been used in Linux? Had there been a hardware failure of the stick? Why was the HW and SW still working fine up to the stage of getting to the access point gateway? Wrong routing info?

I'm leery now of using the new stick in Linux again (which is where I want to use it most of the time), in case I'm again cut off from the Internet. I doubt Tchibo would exchange the stick twice.

Researching this, I also came across >200 posts by users of the O2 network from all over Germany over the past few months who complained about total outages of Internet access via UMTS on their smartphones and USB modems that lasted hours, days or even weeks. They had experienced the same symptoms as I had: excellent link to the AP, an IP address had been issued to them but the connection to the Internet was completely dead and then eventually reappeared.

This raises the question of whether I had perhaps fallen into an outage hole in my home town, and there really hadn't been any problem with the first stick or any of the network config settings in Windows and Linux. Heise's log of O2 network outages doesn't record any in my home town over that time period but that may not mean much.

The question is, is it safe to use the new stick in both OS's?

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Have you had similar experiences? Any suggestions about how I could troubleshoot this or dig myself out of this hole, in case I lose Internet access again with the new stick, if I go into Linux?

P.S. Can you suggest any other expert forum that may shed light on this story?
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 20-10-2011, 17:26

There's nothing special when using a Huawei stick under Linux. Years ago it was a bit tricky since Huawei sticks do appear only as thumbdrive under any OS upon first plug-in and only after a so-called "USB ModeSwitch", which Mobile Partner would perform after installation, the modem components would appear as additional USB devices. Huawei never supplied Linux software and most Linux distributions didn't support this "USB ModeSwitch" natively, so you had to do what is described here. Anyway the problem was to get the sticks running under Linux, not to use them later again under Windows.
Since your stick has been detected correctly on your Windows computers after having used in under Linux and you could connect there doesn't seem to be any problem in the OS-hardware-relation.
None of the network-specific settings (APN etc.) made under the OS is being stored on the stick - it actually doesn't store anything besides the write-only partition, that contains Mobile Partner. Also there's no reason for Tchibo to block your stick (if they did it couldn't even register on the network and if they had reason they would rather block your SIM).
This rather sounds like a routing problem of Windows. Did your Windows computers have any other active network connections before you plugged the stick back into them? I've had similar problems when using Wifi and LAN simultaneously and interrupting one of the connections for a moment - Windows seems to decide randomly which network connection to use for internet access and sometimes it routes data through a network connection, that actually isn't connected to the web.
If this happens once more to you try to disable all other network connections and reboot your system and then reconnect through Mobile Partner.
Since I've been using O2 for the past ten years as most of my friends do, I've never had noteworthy outages. I don't think you had a network problem but rather a software problem/bug under Windows.


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RobF (Offline)
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Default Connect failure - 20-10-2011, 22:41

Thank you very much for your well-informed observations.

Actually, the sequence of events was as follows: install stick and Mobile Partner and use them on WinXP computer 1 (all fine), then install and use them on WinXP computer 2 (all fine), then install and use the stick on Linux on computer 2 (all fine). Then, after I had finished my first (and only) successful session in Linux, I went back to WinXP1, and found I had no Internet access there, then back to WinXP2, again with no access there, and then back into Linux, and again found the same, that the line to the Internet was dead.

After I spent the weekend trying to troubleshoot this problem, I exchanged the stick, installed the new one on WinXP1 and had the same good internet connectivity that I had all the way at the beginning with the first stick, and this has continued now for the past 4 days.

In Arch Linux, for Internet access through a 3G modem, I followed their recommendation to use Gnome networkmanager. That seems to be the easiest way to set up and manage this connection. After I'd installed that package as well as a bunch of other packages (nm-applet, modemmanager, usb_modeswitch, xplc, wvstreams, wvdial, and mobile-broadband-provider-info), I found that setting up the connection through the modem was plug-and-play, no problem at all.

Strange then that after that, when I relied again on the previously successful automatic settings established by Mobile Partner in Windows and networkmanager in Linux, which presumably hadn't changed at all, I failed to get an Internet connection. If this situation recurs, should I go into Linux again now, I would have to troubleshoot it without access to the Internet, not an easy matter.

I may give it a try, and also try out other G3 network configuration and managing programs such as Sakis3G in Linux and MWconn in Windows, or bite the bullet and go into the guts of networking and configure everything by hand, should the problem recur.

I didn't have any other active network connections when I plugged the stick back into the Windows systems or the Linux system, at the time when connectivity failed. Also, I never got a working connection again in Linux either, with the first stick.
   
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Default Problems connecting Huawei E173 on Fedora 15 - 31-10-2011, 03:41

Hello.
After a lot of search and googleing I happened to land here.
I am trying to make a Huawei E173 USB modem on a Fedora 15 Linux system.
And I am looking for some more precise guidance since I haven't succeeded.
This is what I have done so far.

Don't know if it is a Network Manager issue.
I'm really stuck.
And my client is getting desperate after 1 month without an answer on my side.
Would appreciate any good hint.
   
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RobF (Offline)
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Default 05-11-2011, 09:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by mac_kissack View Post
Hello.
After a lot of search and googleing I happened to land here.
I am trying to make a Huawei E173 USB modem on a Fedora 15 Linux system.
And I am looking for some more precise guidance since I haven't succeeded.
This is what I have done so far.

Don't know if it is a Network Manager issue.
I'm really stuck.
And my client is getting desperate after 1 month without an answer on my side.
Would appreciate any good hint.
Sorry, I hadn't continued following this thread. If you still haven't managed to resolve the problem, I'll write up what I'd done.

I got this working in Arch Linux in two systems, one with KDE, the other with LXDE. I had to install close to a dozen pieces of software, some of which may not really have been needed but then networkmanager (along with modemmanager plus plenty of other software) handles everything like a champ, without my ever having to go into and edit any config files by hand. I merely have to enter the SIM pin code and NWmanager handles the rest.
   
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