Advanced Blackberry

Tethering is using your smartphone as a modem to get data to your personal computer. If you happen to love the Blackberry, and run a Linux box (or a Mac), there are ways to tether in Linux.
The first way is with a freeware (although donations are accepted) product called berry4all. I mention berry4all because it does work. It’s tricky and kind of geeky to set up, but it works as advertised. Also, if you want to practice tweaking your Linux box, this is the way to go. And it does require tweaking; berry4all is made for all mobile providers equally, and you can either modify an existing script from the website (www.berry4all.com) or write one from scratch for your mobile carrier.

The point of berry4all is twofold: it allows you to tether in Linux or Mac, which Research in Motion most definitely does not support, and it allows you to do it plugged into a USB port. Berry4all is the middleware between dial up networking and the proprietary Blackberry modem mode. I have set it up in OpenSuse and Fedora Linux and both work just fine, but be prepared to spend time tweakin’ and readin’ and readin’ and tweakin’.

Recently I found a better way. For another purpose entirely, I acquired Bluetooth dongles for a Fedora Linux tower and Ubuntu laptop. These were no name, Chinese, swap meet quality, dollar-fifty Bluetooth dongles of no technological significance whatsoever — they do not even show a name in the system specs of the computer, but Linux sees them just fine.

With Bluetooth dongle installed, pair the Berry to the Linux box. This is fairly intuitive in today’s Linux assuming that you have ever paired two Bluetooth devices. Next go to Network Manager (or the equivalent for your GUI and distro). You’ve possibly never been here before: Linux found your Ethernet when it installed, and you never looked for more connection options. But there are more: There are VPN, DSL and Mobile connection options; you want Mobile connection, of course.

To create the Mobile connection, you will need the sign in information (if any) from your mobile provider. Even if you are not going to use berry4all, the website is a good resource for this information. Enter the required information for a dial up connection in the Mobile connection fields. In the Blackberry itself, go to Options gt; Bluetooth and make sure that the pairing connection to your Linux box has the modem option enabled. By the way, you specifically do not want to plug the Blackberry into the USB for a Bluetooth modem connection.

Connect with the new Mobile connection you created and you’re online. The entire setup takes about two minutes, is actually easier to create and use than using Blackberry Desktop Manager in Windows, and it has the side effect of giving you a cool unwired Mission: Impossible look when you tether. But don’t blame me if you walk away with your laptop and forget the Berry.