SysAdmin's Journey

Set It and Forget It: Tether Your Windows Mobile 6 Phone to Linux

I have a love/hate relationship with my phone - an HTC PPC6800. I can’t live without it - I can check my work email from anywhere, and surf the web. While I’ve tried many PDA’s through the years, none of them have stuck, because I got tired of lugging them around. I always have my phone with me, so therefore my smartphone has made me much more organized. My wife loves it because I can remember all the upcoming appointments. Yet, I hate it. It’s UI is horrible. It locks up and needs rebooted, and I feel dirty using a M$ product. Well, I found one more reason to like it. I can tether my Ubuntu laptop to my phone and get Internet access from just about anywhere. This howto is for Ubuntu, but it should work for any distro that uses bluez-utils. Note that I briefly tried to get my laptop tethered via USB, but I found several comments that it wouldn’t work without a custom kernel module. Bluetooth is easier, works out of the box, and is much cooler besides ;-) First things first, let’s install the prerequisites:

sudo apt-get install bluez-utils bluetooth bluez-gnome bluez-hcidump

Next, enable the bluetooth applet in Gnome. Navigate to “System->Preferences->BlueTooth Preferences”. On the “Devices” tab, click “Other devices can connect”. Now we need to pair your phone to your PC. From your phone, click Start->Settings. Click on the Connections tab, and click the Bluetooth icon. Click “Add new device…” and choose the entry for your computer from the list. You will be asked for a passcode and when you enter it on your phone, the bluetooth applet will pop up saying that your phone is trying to connect. Click on the ballon and enter the same passcode. Congratulations, you have paired your phone to your PC! Now, let’s find the hardware address of your phone:

sudo hcitool scan

Document the 12 digit hex address somewhere, we’ll need it later. Now, open up /etc/default/bluetooth in your favorite text editor. Find the line that states:


and change the zero to a one like so:


Next, find the line which looks like:


and change that to:

PAND_OPTIONS="--persist --connect XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX --role=PANU \
 --devup /etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-up --devdown /etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-down"

changing the XX’s to the hardware address of your phone. Now, let’s run the following to create the scripts we need:

sudo sh -c
'mkdir -p /etc/bluetooth/pan && \ echo "iface bnep0 inet dhcp" >>
/etc/network/interfaces && \ for i in up down; do touch
/etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-$i chmod 755 /etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-$i echo
"#!/bin/bash" > /etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-$i echo "/sbin/if$i bnep0" >>
/etc/bluetooth/pan/dev-$i done && \ /etc/init.d/networking restart && \
/etc/init.d/bluetooth restart'

Finally, on your phone click Start->Programs->Internet Sharing. Select “Bluetooth PAN” on the PC Connection drop-down, and select the appropriate WAN Network Connection. One more note before you’re off and surfing the ‘net on your tethered phone: your bluetooth connection can’t be managed by NetworkManager because bluez-utils doesn’t make use of DBUS. So, in order to use your bluetooth connection, right click on your Network Manager icon, and select “Enable Networking” to disable NetworkManager. When you’re done, right click and reselect “Enable Networking” to switch things back. Okay, that’s out of the way. Click on “Connect” on your phone. As your phone is connecting, your Linux box will see your phone, and connect to it. Once the connection is established, your Linux box will get a DHCP-assigned IP from your phone. To verify all this, run the following command:

/sbin/ifconfig bnep0

You should see the interface, and see that it’s been assigned an IP. After you have the address, you can freely browse the Internet. To disconnect, simply click “Disconnect” on your phone. Don’t forget to re-enable networking via NetworkManager. Props go out to the following places in helping me determine how to do this in the first place: