[Durham] Compatibility of PAYG broadband dongles and portable hard drives (ubuntu)

Richard Mortimer richm at oldelvet.org.uk
Mon Aug 24 16:21:39 UTC 2009

Dougie Nisbet wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've been setting up the laptop I bought from Richard. Running Ubuntu 
> 9.04 and looking good.
> I want to get a portable hard drive. Richard was that a Freecomm one you 
> had at the meeting? I could probably get by on 250GB but 320GB would be 
> better, and 500GB wouldn't be a bad thing.
> Googling around it seems that most of them are pretty straightforward 
> apart from some gotchas about preinstalled software and encryption.
AFAIK they are all just USB connected harddrives. I've used a number of 
bookshelf size versions (which are powered by a wallwart type plug) but 
have also used a 2.5" drive in a caddy that I got from ebuyer. Basically 
you just plug them into the USB port and they appear as just another 
hard drive. For use on Ubuntu use you probably want to 
repartition/create a ext2/3/4/whatever filesystem and maybe configure 
encryption if you care about that.

> I've been looking at
>     http://www.ebuyer.com/product/149400 (Maxtor Basics 500GB)
>     http://www.ebuyer.com/product/164447 (LG 320GB)
> and
> http://www.amazon.co.uk/500GB-drive-HITACHI-External-Portable/dp/B001UHOUC6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
> looks nice.

> Big worry is compatibility. Does anyone recommend a 'safe bet' for 
> working with ubuntu on my laptop?
I don't see a problem with either of those two models. They look like 
they would just work.

> Also been looking at PAYG broadband. It'd be nice to have for 
> emergencies although I don't think I'd need it much, so PAYG appeals. I 
> thought
> http://shop.vodafone.co.uk/shop/mobile-broadband-devices/usb-modem-stick-topup-and-go
> from Vodafone looked good. Perhaps a bit pricey for start-up but 
> straightforward and seems people have found it ok with linux. Does 
> anyone use anything similar?
I haven't use Voda or PAYG but I've got an O2 dongle on contract and it 
works fine on Ubuntu Jaunty.

The only slight snag is that you need to get usb modeswitch to do some 
magic to switch it from looking like a flash device to looking like a 
modem. Once I installed that and added the right udev rules (just a case 
of finding the right one in the list) then when you plug the dongle in 
it appears in network manager and you just click connect, it asks a few 
simple questions and then works. I think most of the dongles work in the 
same way (they just appear as a serial modem) so if the Voda one is the 
same then it should just work.



> thanks
> Dougie
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