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An aircard, sometimes referred to as a broadband USB Modem, is a device for a laptop, PDA or cell phone that allows the user to connect to wide area wireless Internet access through CDMA providers. You will need a service plan to access the Internet with your aircard. As technology evolves, regular cellphones with bluetooth technology are now able to be used to access the same wireless internet services. Either way, the connection specifics are essentially the same at the operating system level.


These devices use the usbserial module included with kernel versions 2.6.27 and above, therefore, no additional drivers are required. If you want to use Network Manager with them, install the module modemmanager from the repos and reboot.

Hardware choices

The following devices are known to work.


  • Pantech UM 185


  • Sierra Wireless Compass 597 EVDO Modem
  • Verizon USB 727 EVDO Modem (Novatel)
  • Huawei E220 USB Modem
  • Huawei E620 USB Modem


Sierra cards (such as the 875U USB) are known to work on MEPIS 7, where the driver "sierra" is available as a kernel module that can be loaded.

If you find a model not listed here that works, please add it to this list.

(Note that the usbserial module is also used by other devices that require USB serial port emulation which may require udev entries in some cases.)


USB Serial devices work perfectly with with KPPP when a suitable hardware driver is loaded.

To check if your aircard is detected and that the driver is loaded, open a terminal window, plug in your aircard and type the following

dmesg | tail

You should get something like the section below

usb 2-3: Sierra USB modem converter now attached to ttyUSB2
usbcore: registered new interface driver sierra
sierra: USB Driver for Sierra Wireless USB modems: v.1.3.2
usb-storage: device scan complete
scsi 5:0:0:0: Direct-Access     Sierra   Wireless Storage 2.31 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
sd 5:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
sd 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0

If you get any response that lists a device like the first line in the above example, ttyUSB2, then your modem will work just fine.

      • Mepis 11
  • Output of dmesg | tail
lkh@mepis1:~$ dmesg | tail
[10228.588314] sr 12:0:0:0: [sr2] unaligned transfer
[10228.613315] sr 12:0:0:0: [sr2] unaligned transfer
[10228.623314] sr 12:0:0:0: [sr2] unaligned transfer
[10377.712046] usb 4-2: USB disconnect, address 3
[10378.944020] usb 4-2: new full speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 4
[10379.103381] usb 4-2: New USB device found, idVendor=106c, idProduct=3717
[10379.103385] usb 4-2: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=0
[10379.103388] usb 4-2: Product: PANTECH USB MODEM
[10379.103391] usb 4-2: Manufacturer: PANTECH
[10379.107686] cdc_acm 4-2:1.0: ttyACM0: USB ACM device

The ttyACM0 is the pertinent part that's needed. There are several choices in the modem setup. Select one and try it. Have everything else setup and when you get to the correct device name it will connect.

Steps to make it work

1. First obtain the login user name and password from your cellular services provider and number to dial 
from your ISP for your aircard. You will need these when setting up the kppp dialer. 
e.g. typical dial-up phone number is #777
2. Set up a new dial-up account with kppp
3. Select /dev/ttyUSB0 for the modem (*see notes below)
4. Use pap/chap for authentication
5. as root, edit /etc/ppp/options file and change 'auth' to 'noauth'
6. as root, edit /etc/ppp/peers/kppp-options and remove the "#" in front of "noauth"

Go back to kppp, select the new connection, enter your user name and password and click connect. It can be helpful to click the Show Log check box before you click on connect the first time so you can see any error messages. A common error to watch for is using a * instead of a #

Congratulations, you should now have a working internet connection.

  • Special notes regarding step 3: When plugged in, most usbserial modem devices appear to create 3-4 different ttyUSB# addresses (where # represents a number). Selecting ttyUSB0 in kppp will generally work just fine, even if the device is connected to a different ttyUSB# number. For example, I am using one of these modems as I edit this page, it is showing as ttyUSB2, but in kppp it is set as ttyUSB0.
      • Mepis 11
  • May be necessary to use the name from the output of dmesg | tail for step 3 as noted above.
  • Step 6 was not necessary with Mepis 11.
    • Special note on ttyUSB devices in general: conflicts may arise when more than one removable device uses ttyUSB ports- udev rules can often help resolve these conflicts, but not in every case.
      • Some vendors do not require any passwords, but because kppp requires a password, inserting a dot (full stop) into the password field will overcome this issue.

Additional information This is based on Mepis 8 with all update upto and including 19th June 2009

I setup a 3 Mobile Network (UK) USB broadband modem. It was packaged as Huawei E156G

Open a terminal and type the following


I got the following reply

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd E220 HSDPA Modem / E270 HSDPA/HSUPA modem

I used the instruction above with the exception I used the *99# as the number to dial

Then in kppp click on configure, on the Accounts tab select your modem and click edit, now select the DNS tab, select manual configuration and then enter DNS IP's I used those from Opendns which are Primary & Secondary

Using the instruction above and these amendments I was able to get a working connection


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