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iPhone tethering with Ubuntu

June 12, 2010 7 comments

Today was my first time I used iPhone tethering. Tethering means connecting computer to the internet using iPhone’s cellular connectivity (3G/EDGE). The iPhone connects to the computer via USB cable or Bluetooth and uses as a cellular modem. It’s useful when you’re away with a laptop and no wireless hot spots around.

There are many tutorials out there, however I found most of them misleading (advising to use third party software or jailbreak your iPhone – both unnecessary) and none of them for Linux. This tutorial is really easy and simple.

Step 1 – Enable internet sharing on your iPhone
On your iPhone goto Settings -> General -> Network -> Internet sharing -> On. If “Internet sharing” isn’t shown, open Safari and browse to: http://help.benm.at. On this webpage click on “Tethering”, then select your country and your mobile carrier. Accept the profile and reboot your iPhone. After the reboot “Internet sharing” option is supposed to be shown. In my case, my carrier wasn’t on the list so I generated a custom file (the last option). The APN/User/Password were easily found using Google. However, “Internet sharing” stayed hidden. The funny thing is after I removed the custom profile it magically appeared. My iPhone version is 3.1.2 and it worked. I noticed they have warning for 3.1.3 so watch out if you got it.

Step 2 – Install necessary software on Ubuntu
As always, I provide instructions for Ubuntu. The driver you need is called “ipheth” and it depends on “libimobiledevice”. Now, you can find them both on Lucid’s official repositories. However, only version 0.9.7 of libimobiledevice is there, and while it may be enough for tethering, I recommend using the newer version which can be obtained from Paul McEnery PPA (for Karmic it’s still version 0.9.7):

# sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pmcenery/ppa

Executing: gpg –ignore-time-conflict –no-options –no-default-keyring –secret-keyring /etc/apt/secring.gpg –trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg –keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg –primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv 3AE22276BF4F39C8D6117D7F4EA3A911D48B8E25
gpg: requesting key D48B8E25 from hkp server keyserver.ubuntu.com

gpg: key D48B8E25: public key “Launchpad PPA for Paul McEnery” imported
gpg: Total number processed: 1
gpg:               imported: 1  (RSA: 1)

# sudo apt-get update

Now, install the driver (and it’s dependencies, which include  the library):
# sudo apt-get install ipheth-utils

Load the driver into running kernel
# sudo modprobe ipheth

At this point if you enter “dmesg” the last line should show something like “usbcore: registered new interface driver ipheth”

Step 3 – Plug your iPhone using USB cable
As soon as you connect your device a new interface should be plumbed, configured and ready to be used (in case you use network manager). You can get list of your interfaces with “ifconfig -a”. On your iPhone there suppose to be label saying “Internet Tethering”. If you don’t use network manager the “Internet Tethering” is triggered when you make DHCP request on that interface (for example, using “dhclient”).

That’s it. As promised, easy and simple. Thanks to Paul McEnery there are plenty of other cool iPhone related stuff you can install from his PPA (on Lucid).

Enjoy!