GSM Mobile Phones and Linux

Capability

GSM mobile phones can in principle make ISDN connections and can thus subserve internet connections via conventional Information Service Providers (ISP) or send and receive faxes.

Hardware requirements

To use a phone together with a computer (generally a laptop) a connecting cable is usually needed, sometimes together with a PCMCIA card that provides "modem"-like capabilities. In some cases phones are equipped with built-in or accessory infrared interfaces meeting the IrDA standard, in which a laptop with an IrDA port can communicate with the phone within IR beam range. These devices are not really modems, as the phone is not doing audio modulation/demodulation, but they are generally called modems nonetheless.

In addition there are dedicated data/fax devices that do not provide voice or manual dialing capabilities (see for example the Nokia Cardphone).

The hardware link between computer and GSM phone may also allow sending messages from the computer to other GSM phones using the Short Message Service (SMS).

Software requirements

GSM modems generally come with software packages, mostly designed for MS-Windows, and information on the Web usually states MS-Windows compatibility. Finding out whether a phone/modem will be usable with Linux is not easy. Retailers will usually state categorically that no phone/modem can be used with Linux, suppliers will usually say the same, or if pushed will admit they do not actually know. Manufacturers in my experience will not answer the question.

I was pretty desperate to find a modem, and in the end took a gamble based on some very scanty information and bought a PCMCIA modem for an Ericsson GSM phone I already had. It worked on first attempt using ordinary AT commands using a serial device, just like an ordinary PCMCIA modem (for which you need to compile PCMCIA kernel modules and enable PCMCIA card recognition). In other words, any Linux software designed to work with ordinary land-line modems will work with such a phone (see the list below). This includes fax software like efax. In the meantime I gained access to an IR modem for another Ericsson model and discovered that the Ericsson IrDA modems also accept ordinary AT commands. Together with IrDA for Linux these modems can also be used with any Linux modem support software. (Note: as of Linux-2.2.12 with the IrDA patches applied, this system works perfectly.) The Linux Infrared HOWTO pages give advice on how to do this.

If the GSM-modem also supports modern GSM/SMS specific AT commands, it may also be able to pass short messages to the modem for injection into the SMS system. (See also restrictions below and the note on SMS at the end of this document. start with SMS Tools.

Ericsson models known to work

The following have been used by me or reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
GH388 DC23 (PCMCIA card + cable) Dave Davey
GH688 DC23v (PCMCIA card + cable)
or
DI27 IrDA accessory modem
Dave Davey
GH788 DC23v (PCMCIA card + cable)
or
DI27 IrDA accessory modem
Dave Davey
GH888 IrDA built-in modem
or
RS232 Cable (but still requires IrDA layer!)
I888 IrDA built-in modem Dave Davey
GS18 Built in RS232 modem Brian Lawless
T18s DI27 IrDA accessory modem Simon Boggis
T28s DI28 IrDA accessory modem Simon Boggis
T39m Serial cable
- GPRS & CSD
Mikko Rapeli
Settings available here
T65 Serial cable
GPRS mode
Kalle Raiskila
T68 Serial cable & IrDA
GPRS mode
Mikko Rapeli
Settings available here
R320 Built in IrDA Jan Marius Evang
Marc Gloor
R380 Built in IrDA Alberto de Vega Luna
R520m Serial cable
- GPRS & CSD
Mikko Rapeli
Settings available here
T300 GPRS IrDA (see How-to) Todor Tanevski

Bosch models reported to work

The following have been reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
Bosch 718 dual (1900/900) GSM-only PCMCIA card modem Daniel Veselka
Bosch 908 Serial cable Jan Marius Evang

Siemens models reported to work

The following have been reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
Siemens C35i Data cable (no IrDA) Michael
Siemens C45 Data cable (no IrDA) Michal Margula
Siemens S35i Built in IrDA Jörg Haug
Siemens S25* Built in IrDA Christoph Lukas
Siemens S45
CSD, GPRS
Data cable
IrDA
Gavin McCullagh
IrDA info
Siemens S46
GPRS
Rikke D. Giles
Siemens ME45 Data cable
and IrDA
Terry R. Dye
Siemens M50
CSD, HSCSD, GPRS
Serial cable Willy Nyland
Siemens MT50
CSD, GPRS
Serial cable or
Mobile Action Technology USB cable MA-8710C
Petr Slansky
Siemens C55
GPRS
USB cable Ville Javanainen
Siemens M55
CSD, GPRS
Serial cable Jakub
Siemens CX65
GPRS
IrDA Martin Leibiczer

SonyEricsson models reported to work

The following have been reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
T310 IrDA - CSD and GPRS Jakub Krajcovic
T610 IrDA - CSD and GPRS Jakub Krajcovic

Sony models reported to work

The following have been reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
Sony CMD-J5* Data cable QN-3RS Alex Owen
*To work well with Linux, initialisation strings need to be: "AT&F&D2" then "AT+CBST=71,0,1".

Mondial models reported to work

The following have been reported by others to operate:
Phone Modem by
Mondial ML808 Cable RS-232 serial connection Dmitry Veprintsev

Nokia models reported to work

The following have been reported to operate:
Phone Modem by
Nokia 6081 (non-portable) GSM Ready / 14k4 pstn modem
by Option
Gerard van Winssen
Nokia 6110 Infrared port
and gnokii software
Marko Hyvärinen
Nokia 6210 Infrared port
Cable connector
Philippe Temesi
& Schoppitsch Dieter
Nokia 6250 Infrared port
Cable connector
Philippe Temesi
Nokia 6310 Infrared port
Cable connector
Philippe Temesi
Nokia 6600 Infrared port Dave Davey
Nokia 6610 Infrared port
Also has USB cable but what kernel module is needed???
Dave Davey
Nokia 7110 Infrared port
Cable connector
Paul de Weerd
Helen Dale
Nokia 8210 Infrared port Guenther Wieser
Nokia 8250 Infrared port Dave Davey
Nokia 8290 Infrared port Alexandru Ionescu
Nokia 8310 IrDA
GPRS mode
Mikko Rapeli
Settings available here
Nokia 9110 Infrared port
or
Cable RS232 serial connection
Dave Davey
Nokia 9210 Infrared port
or
Cable RS232 serial connection
Hans Ekkehard Plesser
Info here.
Nokia Cardphone 2.0 PCMCIA device Robert Michel

Motorola models reported to work

The following have been reported to operate:
Phone Modem by
Motorola 7389 (GPRS prototype) Infrared port Alberto de Vega Luna
Motorola 7389i (GPRS prototype) Infrared port
- GPRS & CSD
Nikolov Assen
Motorola L7089 Infrared port (not FAX commands)
but not
serial cable (MS Windows only)
Michael McConnell
Motorola L718 Infrared port (Some reservations)
but not
serial cable (MS Windows only)
Dave Davey
Motorola P280 (Tri-band) Serial Cable (No fax commands) Karl Miller
Motorola TP280 USB cable
(stability problems)
Mikko Markus Torni
Motorola Ti260 (GPRS model) Serial cable (3 wire - no SLIP)
Infrared port (maybe - not yet tested)
Mihai Roman
Motorola L7389 Infrared port (software flow control only) Dave Davey
Motorola Ti250 Infrared port (including FAX commands)
but not
serial cable (MS Windows only)
Michael McConnell
Motorola Accompli 008
GPRS capable
Serial cable Alfthan Juho
Motorola C350 USB cable Luigi Corsello

Alcatel models that might work

The following information has been provided to me that suggest these phones could work with linux. Reports requested!
Phone Modem by
Alcatel one touch pocket Serial data cable Benjamin Green
Alcatel OT 735i TD10 data cable (USB with 2.6.7rc1 or later kernel) Benjamin Green

Sagem models reported to work

The following information has been provide to me
Phone Modem by
Sagem MC939 Serial data cable Jindra Vavruska

Merlin models reported to work

The following information has been provide to me
Phone Modem by
Merlin G201 PCMCIA Card device Oliver Kurth

Restrictions

IrDA for Linux was under intensive development during the development of the 2.2 series kernels, and required IrDA patches to work properly. You will find the later 2.2 series kernels patched with IrDA patches work really well. The 2.4 and later series kernels have these as a standard feature. Older kernels including some on commercial Linux distributions are not very reliable.

There may be serious restrictions with particular phones.

GSM network services (the simcard provider) may restrict data/fax connections:

There are general restrictions:

Please help improve this information

If you have experience with Linux and GSM-phone-modems other than the ones mentioned here, please let me know by e-mail. I would particular appreciate information on experience with Australian CDMA phones and Linux.

Note on SMS

It is not the intention of this page to provide information on SMS capabilities of GSM modems. These vary considerably depending on manufacturer, model (year of manufacture), modes supported and the range of optional commands supported. Documentation on the particular modem needs to be consulted for this information. I do not have access to most of these documents, and not all manuals provide listings of supported commands, as it appears to be assumed that any computer writing and reading messages will use proprietary Windows software. The contributors to this page have not generally been interested in SMS and have not provided me with advice on whether SMS is supported.

If the documentation on your modem does not provide SMS commands, and you wish to pursue these questions yourself, I suggest looking at Linux SMS software (e.g. SMS Tools), and/or reading the European Telecommunications Standard document ETS 300 585 which you can download from ETSI.


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Maintained by Dave Davey daved@physiol.usyd.edu.au

Last updated 28 December 2004

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