Vodafone 3G card in Ubuntu

Update: Since writing this blog entry many developments have happened with mobile internet under linux. These days you can just plug and go. NetworkManager will even help you find the right settings. However, I haven’t tested this particular mobile broadband pcmcia card with recent versions of Ubuntu, but assume that it works well. Leave a comment if you have any problems 🙂

First off, I realise that I haven’t posted a blog entry in a while now. I don’t know why I haven’t, as I’ve had plenty of time, it being the summer holidays and all. I always find my self wanting to do so much stuff in the summer holidays, and somehow turn up doing hardly anything. ‘Tis a shame.


After reading this mailing list post on ubuntu-uk, I was surprised these 3G datacards actually worked under ubuntu. Therefore, I instantly zoomed off to ebay and purchased one for £34 + postage. I made sure it said unlocked in the ebay listing, as I currently have a virgin mobile sim card and didn’t want to waste/switch to vodafone.

So the datacard turned up and I popped my phone SIM in it. Following the guide that was written in the mailing list, I configured it. This was using kppp. So I made everything was in there right and tried to connect. One problem though. Everytime I tried to connect kppp would lock up instantly. “Ah dear”, I though.

After much researching, I managed to set up the datacard using gnome-ppp, which is equally, if not more, easier to set up the datacard in. And here is a little guide I’ll write in full for you…

The guide

The vodafone 3G card. Great little thing. Get the internet almost anywhere!

Now, these vodafone cards seem to be just some re-branded ones. The real manufacture, found from the label underneath, is Novatel Wireless. The model of the datacard is Merlin U630.

Pop the SIM card into your datacard, ensuring that you put it in the right way (I may have been stupid enough to put it in the wrong way 🙂 ). And then plug it into your computer. First off, it would be quite a good idea to ensure that it was detected by the system. To do this open up a terminal and enter the command dmesg. This should hopefully give you a long list of text, where the end of it slightly resembles this:

[ 124.076000] pccard: PCMCIA card inserted into slot 0
[ 124.076000] cs: memory probe 0xf8000000-0xfdffffff: excluding 0xf8000000-0xfc1fffff 0xfce00000-0xfd3fffff
[ 124.080000] pcmcia: registering new device pcmcia0.0
[ 124.080000] pcmcia: registering new device pcmcia0.1
[ 124.224000] pcmcia: request for exclusive IRQ could not be fulfilled.
[ 124.224000] pcmcia: the driver needs updating to supported shared IRQ lines.
[ 124.268000] 0.0: ttyS0 at I/O 0x3f8 (irq = 3) is a 16550A
[ 124.312000] pcmcia: request for exclusive IRQ could not be fulfilled.
[ 124.312000] pcmcia: the driver needs updating to supported shared IRQ lines.
[ 124.360000] 0.1: ttyS1 at I/O 0x2f8 (irq = 3) is a 16550A

From this you can see the ttyS0 part. This is the name the Linux has given to your datacard. This isn’t really necessary, but it could be useful to know.

Time to install gnome-ppp. Run sudo apt-get install gnome-ppp. One final thing to do in the terminal is edit a setting of ppp in linux. Run the command sudo gedit /etc/ppp/options. That will load up the text editor, so that you are able to change the options. Head to the bottom of the file and add novj to the end on a separate line. Save and close this file.

Head to Applications -> Internet -> Gnome PPP. This will load up the gnome ppp manager. Press the setup button to load up the options for connecting. Click the detect button, so that it can find your modem device, or alternatively choose the name we found earlier (in my case /dev/ttyS0). Even though it isn’t a USB modem select under type USB modem, as I found this is the setting that worked. Set the speed to 460800.

Now, you’re going to need to find your mobile provider’s APN address. I found this website had a bunch of APNs for many different mobile providers. So, as I use virginmobile, I scrolled on down to the virginmobile part and found my APN was goto.virginmobile.uk.

Pop back to the settings for gnome-ppp. Click the “Init Strings…” button. In the 3rd Init string item put the following line of code, replacing goto.virginmobile.uk with the APN for your mobile provider.


Once you’ve entered that, press the close button in the Init Strings window. That is the end of the configuration in the Setup dialog also. So go ahead and close that too.

You’re now back to Gnome PPP main screen. If you go back to that webpage I pointed to you earlier, and down to your provider you’ll find a username and password. Copy these accross to the username and password boxes of gnome ppp. If the webpage said (leave blank) next to either the username or password, just put anything in to fill that up, as gnome ppp will not allow you to connect otherwise.

One final part is to add in the phone number to dial. This is, for most people, going to be *99***1#. Now that you’ve entered all the settings needed go ahead and click Connect. Hopefully, through the power of 3G or GPRS, you will be connected up to your mobile network and able to surf the internet.

You may have a few problems with your DNS. You’ll know this if you are not able to load a webpage like google.com normally, but you are able to via In which case, I’d solve this problem by using the opendns servers. Head to System -> Administration -> Network. On the DNS tab set your DNS servers to be and After that, you should be able to visit sites easily again.

Now, I think that’s it. If I’ve missed anything please comment.



#1 hairy on 08.10.07 at 11:29 pm

I did manage to get my Ubuntu system working, but there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensively documented solution out there. Vodafone missing a trick by not providing non-windows access ??!

#2 Chris Moulding on 09.29.07 at 11:19 am

Andrew, This the best guide to setting up a data card I’ve come across! Good work! I’m using a U630 card now on T-mobile after using your guide to send you this comment. Thanks!

#3 Andrew Gee on 09.29.07 at 3:58 pm

Glad I could be of assistance, Chris!

#4 Simone Massaruti on 11.13.07 at 5:47 pm

Andrew, good job!! Now my ubuntu Feisty work with a Merlin U630 on tim provider. Your guide is the best that i found. Only a question, how can i check if i’m working with UMTS connection or GPRS? Thanks.

#5 Andrew Gee on 11.13.07 at 6:05 pm

I take it UMTS is a 3G connection. I’ve found that the light goes blue if I am in range of a 3G network and it goes green for GPRS. And of course the red light means no connection

#6 Simone Massaruti on 12.18.07 at 2:26 pm

My card has not dual color (green / blue). I tried with windows tools. I forced gprs connection and UMTS connnection. The light doesn’t change. Thanks S.

#7 Maximus on 12.20.07 at 12:01 pm

I would like to see a continuation of the topic

#8 Andrew Gee on 12.20.07 at 2:36 pm

Well it does seem to be a quite popular topic. Where would you like me to continue this topic, Maximus?

#9 lior on 03.07.08 at 3:22 pm

hi, just wanted to say thanks. Your guide helped me configure my debian laptop with Israel’s Cellcom (APN was “internetg”). i needed to define ppp0 as the default route (sudo route add default ppp0) since i have two more ethernet card, but other than that – your guide was very helpfull! thanks!

#10 Sajjad on 04.17.08 at 1:47 am

hi i followed you way to configure my option 3G laptopconnect card. but I m getting following error in log file when i try to connect

/home/lpsah/.wvdial.conf: Ignoring malformed input line: “;Do NOT edit this file by hand!”
WvDial: WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.56
WvModem: Cannot get information for serial port.
WvDial: Initializing modem.
WvDial: Sending: ATX3
WvDial: Sending: ATQ0
WvDial: Re-Sending: ATX3
WvDial: Modem not responding.

Befor that when i write msg “dmesg” to find out my port i got following

2281.252000] ohci_hcd 0000:07:00.1: irq 18, io mem 0x38001000
[ 2281.336000] usb usb7: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
[ 2281.336000] hub 7-0:1.0: USB hub found
[ 2281.336000] hub 7-0:1.0: 1 port detected
[ 2285.248000] usb 7-1: new full speed USB device using ohci_hcd and address 2
[ 2285.464000] usb 7-1: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
[ 2285.464000] option 7-1:1.0: GSM modem (1-port) converter detected
[ 2285.464000] usb 7-1: GSM modem (1-port) converter now attached to ttyUSB0
[ 2285.468000] option 7-1:1.1: GSM modem (1-port) converter detected
[ 2285.468000] usb 7-1: GSM modem (1-port) converter now attached to ttyUSB1

please can you inform me is there any change for my settings and about “novj” … can you please elaborate further…
Thanks… i m struglling with it from last ten days…
i installed voda fone driver but its not detecting my modem as well… if you can help in either case …

#11 Graeme on 05.23.08 at 10:04 pm

Excellent post. Working a treat for me. On vodafone 3g right now.

#12 Andrew Gee on 05.23.08 at 10:07 pm

Glad I could help, Graeme.

#13 Wayne on 09.03.08 at 6:52 am


This looks just what I’m after. I have a Vodafone 3G usb stick as opposed to the PCMIA card. Are the instructions still valid for usb ?


#14 Andrew Gee on 09.03.08 at 7:14 am


I believe so. The only thing that could change is the address of the modem. You should be able to find the /dev/ address of your modem by plugging it in and then running dmesg, as I explained in the blog post.

Glad I could help.

#15 Philip on 04.07.09 at 6:07 pm

Hi! For some reason i cant get past the loading of the Gnome-PPP Command.In Terminal,it says the following’insert password for {user}(in my case “undertaker”).I try to write,nothing displays,though i press enter and then it says ‘Sorry try again’. I tried again,and then it said,with my controlling:

[sudo] password for undertaker:
Reading package-lists…Done…
Building thread…
Reading condition information… Done
E: Could not find package gnome-ppp
It says something like that,atleast what i translated from swedish.

Any help?I really gotta get internet here!
Ubuntu is awsome when it works!

#16 Arshaad on 06.04.09 at 5:21 am

I happen to struggle with this in 8.10 and all previous versions of unbuntu. Though I recall that someone had written a vodafone package which updated from a very old version. 7.04. I wish I could find that guy who has as it is good to have the updates from the sms’s Vodafone and service providers make available.

#17 r mcgrath on 06.15.09 at 2:58 pm

Reading this lot makes me realise why I stick with microsoft

#18 Treat Yolanda on 01.31.12 at 10:51 am

My Vodafone 3G device is a Huawei E220 USB 3G Modem . Please advise.

#19 Treat Yolanda on 01.31.12 at 10:53 am

I am using a Huawei E220 USB 3G Modem. please advise accordingly.

Thank you.

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