A few days ago a man wrote into The Guardian's technology help column Ask Jack to ask for help getting a Huawei E160G mobile internet modem working with his son's Asus EEE PC 901 complaining that "Nobody seems willing or able to assist". Jack Schofield, the Jack of Ask Jack, thoughtfully smoked his pipe (possibly) and suggested that "You can try reading Dale Lane's blog post and 138 comments, but frankly it would be easier to change the modem or install Windows XP, which works fine". Within hours, 3 Mobile Buzz, a blog from 3 that covers posts about their products from the blogosphere rounding up the information that they have. They didn't have a definitive answer on the E160G though, and later I twittered that I'd have a look to see if it is possible to get it working in a similar way to the E169G, another model of mobile internet modem. 3 Mobile Buzz took me up on the idea, and lent me an E160G to what was possible. The news so far is that it works perfectly on Ubuntu 8.10 (including the 64 bit version) and Easy Peasy (a version of Ubuntu targeted at netbooks, including the EEE) without any additional software. I've not managed to get it fully working on a Xandros powered EEE PC yet though, so if you want to use this modem with your EEE it might be a good idea to switch to using Easy Peasy. It is possible to the use the modem on Ubuntu, and with a little bit of fiddling about the built in micro-SD card reader as well.
The E160G is a similar device to the E169G, it does have a couple of extra features though; a micro-SD card reader and an external antenna socket. When you plug it into your Ubuntu machine you will see a message saying that the modem has been detected (as a Huawei Technologies E220 Modem/ E270 HSDPA/HSUPA Modem) and you can click on a button to configure the device. When you do this, you will be presented with a wizard to select you country (which should be auto-selected) and your network. I took the default settings for 3 (UK) and it worked fine.
It appears that there are variations on the model number for this device, my colleague Allan Jones has a similar device from Vodafone that has a model number of K3565, but his invoice said it was a E160. I'm not sure what the difference is either between the 'G' and non-'G' versions. If you know more about this it would be great to hear from you or maybe you could add the information to the Ubuntu Wiki page on 3G. One way to identify this device though is to issue the command lsusb in a terminal, you should see an output like this:
Bus 007 Device 014: ID 12d1:1003 Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. E220 HSDPA Modem / E270 HSDPA/HSUPA Modem
You can also use the built in micro-SD card reader of the device. Unfortunately it is not auto-detected so you must set it up manually using a couple of commands. Firstly, you need to set up a mount point for the card reader, a place in the file system that will be the place where the contents of the card can be found. This will be set up under the /media directory and you can call it anything you like, in this example I've called the mount point "e160g-sdcard". Enter this command to set up the mount point (these start out life as regular directories):
sudo mkdir /media/e160g-microsd
Next, you should insert a card into the device, before plugging the device in, issue the command sudo tail -f /var/log/messages in a terminal. When you plug the device in you should see some activity and new messages. There should be some messages about a storage device and you should see some letters repeated in square brackets, this will be something like "sdb", this is the device that the card reader is attached to.
Now we can mount the command with a command like this, and the contents should be available to browse:
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/e160g-microsd
So you don't have to install Windows XP to enjoy using the E160G, instead you can use it under Ubuntu and Easy Peasy. Hopefully it will be possible to get the device working on a factory standard Xandros-powered EEE PC, but even if that is not possible, Easy Peasy is available for free and I think creates a much better experience than Xandros in this and many other ways. The upgrade to Network Manager included in Ubuntu 8.10 again comes in very useful!