27/08/2010
x2go uses UMTS
So far we did not use Internet connections at schools due to high prices or very low bandwidth conditions. In South Africa we found that prices for Internet access via UMTS are acceptable and bandwidth provided from Vodacom or MTN have good coverage and are good enough to connect a classroom for http usage. For those purposes we already added an extra NIC and Internet should be provided via an additional IPCop. On thursday we tried a simplier solution by adding an UMTS USB directly to the terminalserver. This would enable any teacher by just connecting it's UMTS stick an connect to the web. HP's older FONIC stick worked out of the box with a test setup on Ubuntu 10.4. Franz brought a brandnew one which was not detected at all. A lsusb command showed the problem:

The old stick offers ID 12d1:1003 while the new one came up with 12d1:1446.

The dmesg command did only detect the stick as a CD ROM device but not as a GSM modem. The problem was solved by downloading latest version of usb_modeswitch.

The config file 12d1:1446 was copied and renamed as usb_modeswitch.conf to /etc and started with usb_modeswitch -c /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf. Immediately Ubuntu's network manager started searching for a connection. After configuring the appropriate APN, the new FONIC stick connected successfully. Our Debian Lenny on x2go does not have a suitable network manager at the moment. Therefore we downloaded umtsmon and installed it. Using this program we were able to establish a connection even with the older Debian version.
Prepaid cards are available with volume pricing: A 1.3 GB solution is about 30 EUR at current time.

This solution will be built in for all new rollouts.
 back