Tethering your Nokia to Ubuntu via USB.

After seeing firsthand the perils of using an open WiFi network last week I resolved to post about tethering a Nokia smartphone to an Ubuntu-powered laptop or netbook via USB, as a public service to those who didn’t know that they could. Count me among them  — or at least among those who didn’t realize how ridiculously easy it is!

Select USB Mode

This first step is the hardest, in that it’s the least intuitive. When you connect your Nokia to your Ubuntu box make sure you select ‘PC Suite’. This will activate the USB modem connection on the Nokia side.

New Mobile Broadband Connection

From here on in it’s dead simple. You can fire up Network Connections from your System Administration panel, or even easier, click on ‘New Mobile Broadband Connection’ in your Network Manager Applet’s drop-down menu at the top of your screen. You should be presented with this window, with your Nokia device already selected.

Choose your Provider

The latest release of Ubuntu (10.04 as of this writing) includes a database of carriers worldwide. Note the presence of Canadian newcomer WIND Mobile in the menu seen above.

Editing Rogers

Once you’ve made your selection your carrier’s settings are automatically loaded — no more searching HoFo!

You could also use JoikuSpot, an S60/Symbian app that rebroadcasts your cellular data connection as a WiFi hotspot, to reach the same end — provided you have 64 or 128-bit encryption turned on. But since you’ll need an AC cable anyway (JoikuSpot drains your Nokia’s battery in fairly short order) why not take a USB connector instead and enjoy a virtually impenetrable connection to the Internet wherever you go?

With some help from Simon at KnowNokia.ca I’m hoping to delve further into the security risks of open WiFi hotspots in a future post. I’d also like to write about tethering to Ubuntu from other mobile OSes but alas, I’m a Nokia user so that’s all I know.

Maybe you can help me out with a comment below..?


  1. Well well, that is how I have been using my Nokia phone since I got to start using Ubuntu. I discovered it by accident when the first time I connected my phone via the USB to Ubuntu, I got the option of using the phone as a usb media storage or via pc suite.

    Initially I wondered what the pc suite option would result in on Linux, so I chose it and nothing. Somehow, I clicked on the network manager applet and bam, “Mobile Broadband Connection” jeez! WTF?

    Had to install the Nokia PC Suite on my XP, then fidget with settings and all that, here I am, everything cooked and ready to eat. I just set up the mobile connection and kaboom, online. Me <3 Linux

  2. if your phone has a connect to web option like my E75, i believe that will work, as well. I have a post on rubbernecking.info for using wvdial with a Nokia phone to connect, which you need for older versions, or if PnP doesn’t work. Has anyone been able to connect via bluetooth?

  3. I haven’t tried bluetooth yet, but is anyone having problems with losing your USB tether connection every so often? I don’t know if it’s Network Manager’s fault, or my N900, but I will try to reconnect via NM and it will say disconnected again. It’s not until I disconnect and then reconnect my USB cable, tell it PC Suite, and then try to connect to the mobile broadband provider again that it will finally successfully connect again.

  4. Kevin, when I set up my Bluetooth to pair my phone with, towards the end of the setup, there is this option that says “Do you want to connect to the internet via Bluetooth?” or something like with a small check box by it. Just tick.

    Next time the BT on both your phone and PC are on, clicking Network Manager will give you the option to connect via BT.

  5. For anyone wondering, although the article only mentions Ubuntu, this also works on Fedora (at least the default GNOME version, haven’t tested any others), and most likely on any Linux distro with NetworkManager.

  6. Thanks for that.

    I’ve gotten some heat in the past for equating Ubuntu with Linux (which of course it’s not) so putting “Ubuntu” in the title of this post is a deliberate choice, since that’s what I’m currently using…

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