Huawei E1550 in Ubuntu 10.04.1

Judging by my server logs, there are lots of people trying to use the Huawei E1550 with Ubuntu. I posted a howto around this time last year but have been getting a lot of mail on it recently so thought I’d look at it again. I was going to mention it in the system help, under troubleshooting but can’t remember if I pushed a patch or not.

Mode-switching – method one

Thanks to OdyX (who maintains usb-modeswitch) this is the simplest method.

Open a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and type:

sudo apt-get install usb-modeswitch usb-modeswitch-data

Mode-switching – method two

On inserting the device, if you open a terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and type “dmesg” you’ll see something like this:

huawei-e1550-in-ubuntu-10-04-1 huawei-e1550-in-ubuntu-10-04-3

The device has a small amount of storage space and identifies itself (on Windows) as a mass storage device, installs the driver and away you go. The problem is Ubuntu does what it is told to, it thinks its a mass storage device. The switch is never made in software because the software isn’t for Linux. We need to manually switch it using a little program that has been installed by default for a while now – “modem-modeswitch”. You need to pass it some parameters but we want the system to do this automatically when we insert the device – so we will configure a udev rule instead.

Open a new file to store the rule by typing “gksu gedit /etc/udev/rules.d/15-huawei-e1550.rules” and paste in the following code:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb",SYSFS{idProduct}=="1446",SYSFS{idVendor}=="12d1",RUN+="/lib/udev/modem-modeswitch --vendor 0x12d1 --product 0x1446 --type option-zerocd"

Save the file and close the editor. Remove and re-insert the device. You should notice that service providers icon has popped up on the desktop – don’t worry about it as it is just the storage part of the device being recognised.

Configuring the connection

If you now click on the network-manager icon in the notification area, you’ll see a new option, “New Mobile Broadband (GSM) connection”


Click it and on the splash screen click “Forward” and choose your country and operator. Mine is 3UK so I’ll pick “Britain (UK)”, “3” and importantly from the next screen choose “Handsets”. Obviously this will require the correct information, so if your network is not listed and you cannot obtain the necessary values the please contact your provider. Click “Apply” and you should see the connection appear.


48 Replies to “Huawei E1550 in Ubuntu 10.04.1”

  1. Thanks for the guide. You’ve done a great service to everyone using this broadband stick.

    I take it that the instructions apply to other Huawei models. Or am I mistaken?

    1. @Barista Uno

      Thanks! The instructions are essentially the same but the vendor and product ID may be different (most likely just the product). You can find that from running lsusb in a terminal, for example:

      Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0a5c:2151 Broadcom Corp.

      The first four digits of the ID are the vendor, the ones after the colon are the device. YMMV as I have no other Huawei devices to test with but I think changing them would do it.

      Looking at usb-modeswitch, it seems to be similar based around files in /etc/usb_modeswitch.d/vendor-id:device-id

      1. Thank you! I tried the 2nd method that did not work. Then I applied the additional information provided about the vendor and product ID by using running lsusb in a terminal.
        Then It worked perfectly!! Thank you!

  2. Hi,

    you could also install usb-modeswitch and usb-modeswitch-data, and it will should work, for any 3G “modeswitching” device out there.

    Cheers, OdyX (maintainer of usb-modeswitch 😉 )

    1. @OdyX

      Thanks – oddly enough I use it in Fedora and it worked well, although I haven’t tried it recently. I’ll try it again with usb-modeswitch and post the results. It would be nice to move away from udev rules.

      I’ve updated the article. I really wish things like this were more widely publicised!

      1. Ouh, nice!

        As for the publicity, I’m no blogger (yet ?) myself, so it’s hard to “get to the news”. Note that there is a “Recommends chain” that should somehow make sure that usb-modeswitch gets installed on default installs (on Maverick): network-manager > modemmanager > usb-modeswitch >> usb-modeswitch-data. So it should not be an issue, normally.

          1. Yes. Version 1.1.4 has been accepted. Right now it doesn’t work because of bug #625110, but it should “really soon”.

  3. @Dougie: Technically, you don’t get rid of them (as usb-modeswitch-data provides the needed ones), but the biggest advantage is that the distribution handles that issue for you. :->

  4. First of all great instructions!
    Well done.

    and importantly from the next screen choose “Handsets
    Curious why is it important to use ‘Handsets’?
    I automatically used the instructions from 1 year ago, and without thinking just clicked on ‘Internet’ and it seemed to work fine.
    Now you got me curious, why am I better off using ‘Handsets’ than ‘Internet’?
    BTW I have since switched to ‘Handsets’.


  5. Thanks for excellent guide. I got another problem: after successfully create the script, my netbook Ubuntu Remix 10.04.1 recognizes 3G dongle and can connect to the service provider, but other USB storage disappeared and can not recognized by the system, including SD Card in built-in SD Card Reader, USB 2.0 2GB Flash stick and USB Multicard Reader. The system now can see only storage in USB dongle mini SD card, but none of others.

    Should I create udev rules for each USB storage connect to the system?

    Thank you

  6. I used both methods: installed usb-modeswitch and created script 15-huawei-e1550.rules in /etc/udev/rules.d folder.


  7. hi i have installed ubuntu lucid lynx 10.04 lts i am trying to get my huawei e1550 3g dongle working i have tried various command s in sudo terminal i just cannot seem to get anything working it (dongle works fine on xp ) any help please i just have to have the internet connection no wifi out where i am the usb modeswitch must be in stalled in my version of ubuntu ???

      1. hi i followed the guide still nothing no option in the network manager for mobile broadband just nothing happens i think ill have to reload xp just seems too much hassle ubuntu

  8. Thanks a lot for this good guide… owned the E1550 stick since last december 09 but now then able to surf net with ubuntu on my laptop!! ha ha…

  9. yeah its ubuntu 10.04 LTS lucid lynx and huawei e1550 usb stick i must be doing something wrong when i plug it in i get the three icon but i just cant switch it

    1. The icon sometimes appears when it’s switched correctly – is there a connection in network manager?

      If not, with the device plugged in open a terminal and type:
      sudo /lib/udev/modem-modeswitch --vendor 0x12d1 --product 0x1446 --type option-zerocd

      Then we can see if the problem is udev or modem-modeswitch. My wife has been ill recently, so I might not get much time to check for a reply just now.

      1. ok thanks i typed that in and the reply was no device found dont know if this helps but its an acer 3810t the hard drive brokedown so i installed new one and ubuntu os theres no other os onboard also when in network manager theres a wired connx option and wireless connex option but no mobile broadband option

        1. Again while it’s plugged in, can you open a terminal and type:
          lsusb|grep Huawei
          If you post the output here – I want to confirm the vendor and device strings. 3 have started shipping a different version of their software – there might have been a firmware change too.

  10. i have done all that, it has connectde alright but i ncat still log onto facebook. i get the home screen alright but when i input my user id and password this is what comes

    This webpage is not available.

    The webpage at might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.

    Here are some suggestions:
    Reload this web page later.
    More information on this error
    Below is the original error message

    Error 118 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT): The operation timed out.

    i need help

    1. You don’t mention what provider your with or which browser you’re using but there are a few things you can try – try opening a terminal and pinging then you know if there’s a connection at all. If that doesn’t do anything, try pinging – if that works then you know you’ve a DNS problem.

      Are you using Chromium?

  11. I am trying to educate myself about how to setup a HUAWEI MOBILE BROADBAND E1550 HSDPA USB STICK on Ubuntu 10.04
    I am not much computer literate, much less Ubuntu literate, and in two weeks I am bringing this box to a remote African village in Tanzania… I need to make sure I can setup internet from it.
    I noticed this posts are from last year. I was wondering if the information still apply.

    1. Paola,

      I just tried an E1550 on the latest Ubuntu and it’s working fine. Now it was an upgrade, so you may need to follow the steps in the post too.

Comments are closed.