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Bluetooth tethering via PAN with Windows Mobile and Ubuntu

November 8, 2010

I was on the train today, needed some of the Boost manuals, and had no internet connection. So I wanted to use my phone (an old HTC Prophet with Windows Mobile 6.1) as a network access point to browse over GPRS/EDGE. As I found out, it is fairly simple with Blueman and it even provides NetworkManager integration, so all NetworkManager-capable applications can be notified about the connectivity. Windows Mobile 6.1 allows tethering over a Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network); but there is another method called DUN (Dial Up Networking), which I will not describe here. So here is a step-by-step tutorial what I did for my PAN approach, with a few (german) screenshots, tested on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid:

  1. Since my laptop was running on Ubuntu Lucid, there was already a recent Blueman version in the Ubuntu repos available. On older systems, you may want to add the Blueman Launchpad PPA.
    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:blueman/ppa  # only necessary on pre-lucid systems
    sudo aptitude update
    sudo aptitude install blueman

    Note that this also removes possibly installed gnome-bluetooth packages since Blueman is an adequate replacement for the GNOME Bluetooth UI.

  2. After the installation has finished, I had to enable the NMPANSupport plugin for NetworkManager 0.8 by right-clicking on the Blueman icon in the GNOME notification area and selecting “Plugins”. For older NetworkManager versions, there is also a plugin for NetworkManager 0.7, called NMIntegration.
    Blueman menu Blueman plugins
  3. Then I activated tethering on my phone (“Programs” → “Internet Sharing” on my Windows Mobile 6.1, but YMMV). Apparently this was neccesary with my model, because without tethering enabled I could not get a Bluetooth PAN connection in the next step.
    Windows Mobile 6.1: Programs menu Windows Mobile 6.1 Connection Sharing
  4. I paired the phone and my laptop via Bluetooth, and created a PAN (Personal Area Network) by connecting to the “Network Access Point” service on the phone. In Blueman, all you have to do after pairing is right-click on the device and select “Connect To: Network Access Point”. This creates a new network device bnep0 which is automagically configured through NetworkManager (using a stateless address autoconfiguration).
    Blueman: Connect to Network Access Point

    (Yes, my phone is called Leia… I also have another HTC Prophet that’s called Luke :-))

  5. However, in my setup, though I was able to ping certain IP adresses on the internet, DNS lookups timed out for some reason. It got better when I explicily set an IP address for the Bluetooth PAN driver on my phone, and did the tethering process all over again.
    Windows Mobile 6.1: Connactions menu Windows Mobile 6.1: Network Drivers Windows Mobile 6.1: Set up IP address
  6. And off I went with mobile internet access. Woo-hoo! \o/

I may also add that the NetUsage plugin in Blueman is very reasonable to use 😉 After activated, the network usage can be viewed by right-clicking on the Blueman icon and selecting “Network Usage”.


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  1. tree
    June 14, 2012 at 08:52

    hi, thanks for so simple explanation on how to connect to internet. Wanted to know, if you have idea, that is it required to start pppd (point to point protocol daemon) on your laptop? Or Blueman starts it automatically when you asked for a connection?

    • rohieb
      June 14, 2012 at 13:35

      I don’t think so, at least not when you use the Network Access Point (NAP) service on your mobile device. The tethering works over a Bluetooth PAN (Personal Area Network) in this case, so there is no need to use PPP at all. Anyways, NetworkManager and Blueman usually handle the setup for you automatically so you don’t have to care about this part at all. (OK, in the meantime I have switched to Debian Testing, and there is now a nasty bug which prevents using Bluetooth connections… :-/)

      There is a second possibility to tether over Bluetooth though, using the Dial Up Networking (DUN) service that is supplied by the phone. There might be some PPP involved, as the laptop has to make the modem connection by itself, but I have not tried that since the PAN approach worked good for me (until now).

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