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Old 05-03-2004, 01:37 PM   #1
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Akron, OH
Distribution: SuSE 8.2, Slackware current, OpenBSD 3.5-3.8, Fedora Core 2
Posts: 400

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Sierra AirCard 555 under Linux & Verizon

This actually isn't a question. Well, maybe sort of. I am posting this because I couldn't really find any good information on getting this card to work successfully under Linux.

About two years ago, I got the Sierra Aircard 555 from Verizon and set it up to work under Windows. One of the things holding me back at the time from completely moving to Linux was that this was card was my primary means of connecting to the Internet and it wasn't supported under Linux. Well, now it (unofficially) is. I recently switched jobs where I needed to have the unlimited data connection for my laptop. So, I found this page:

which explains how to get the thing working in Linux. I wanted to share my experience and ask a question.

The URL listed above is 100% correct in that the card MUST be activated on a Windows laptop. And actually, the software that originally came with my card was out of date, so I had to download the latest software from here:

This software may also flash the firmware in your card (it did to mine). Once you installed the software and flashed the firmware, you'll need to start the Watcher program and go through a manual activation. There are three pieces of information you'll need:

1) Activation number (which happened to be on the side of the box)
2) New phone number
3) SID number

The SID number I got when I called tech support at (866) 788-9387. I avoided telling the tech support guy that I would be using this on Linux -- not because it wasn't allowed, I just didn't want to have to listen to him whine about Verizon not supporting it under Linux. The Activation menu is under Tools. Once you've activated the card and you are sure you can place a call under Windows, you are ready to go.

I followed the instructions found on the first URL and downloaded the scripts and made the various changes to the chap-secrets and pap-secrets files but I could never get them to work. My advice is to follow the advice about activation and making changes to the /etc/pcmcia/config file, but the scripts they provide just didn't work for me.

Here is what did work though.

I downloaded and installed wvdial and all dependent packages and set up two configuration files, one for Express Network and one for the older QNC network.

[Dialer Defaults]
Baud = 115200
Idle Seconds = 300
Init1 = ATZ
Modem = /dev/ttyS1
Modem Type = Digital Modem
Username =
Password = vzw
Phone = #777
Stupid Mode = true

[Dialer Defaults]
Baud = 115200
Idle Seconds = 300
Init1 = ATZ
Modem = /dev/ttyS1
Modem Type = Digital Modem
Username =
Password = qnc
Phone = #762
Stupid Mode = true

Obviously, replace the xxx's with the 10 digit phone number. Then, to use one of the profiles, as root, type:

cp /etc/wvdial.conf.vzw /etc/wvdial.conf

Then to try it out, simply type:


And it works...sort of. Here is the question that I have. wvdial will retry several times to connect before giving up. However, there are times when I will have to run 'wvdial' 8 or 9 times before it successfully finds the "modem" and connects. Other times it works on the first try. It's more of an annoyance than anything since I can actually connect, but I'm just curious if there might be something I am missing.

Hope that helps someone else there trying to configure the same thing.

Last edited by Tino27; 05-03-2004 at 01:39 PM.
Old 06-06-2004, 11:52 PM   #2
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Illinois
Distribution: Debian, Suse, Red Hat, Familiar
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This post is a bit old, and I don't really have an answer to you question, but since it wasn't _exactly_ a question, I hope that's OK. Since I got it last year, I have used my Sierra Aircard 555 on and off under various linux distros using the cookie cutter instructions from Sierra (although when I had a bit of a problem getting it set up with debian, I found this link helpful):

I've been pondering what your issue could be, to no avail. It's one of those "it works for me, so I haven't had a chance to really troubleshoot" it situations. I'm sure that you don't have signal strength issues (that was a huge problem for me at first, I live in the middle of nowhere) or that would have showed up with windows, and most of the other connection problems that I've gotten have been obvious in /var/log/messages.

You don't say, but are you running slackware on the machine that has your Aircard? I am going to try that on one of my partitions soon, so I can try your configuration to see if I have any issues. I probably will anyway, just out of curiousity, and I will keep you posted.
Old 06-07-2004, 07:06 AM   #3
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Akron, OH
Distribution: SuSE 8.2, Slackware current, OpenBSD 3.5-3.8, Fedora Core 2
Posts: 400

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Yes, I am running Slack. Slack 9.1, to be specific.

Thanks for the response. I never did manage to figure out why it took so many times to actually get the modem to connect. I have a Kyocera 7135 smartphone that is also capable of the same type of data connection speeds as the Aircard, and strangely enough, it actually gets a more consistent connection than the Aircard did. When I use the phone with the data connector cable (serial), I get the same kind of hit-and-miss connection issues that I got with the Aircard. When I use the phone's actual cradle connected to the laptop (again through the serial port), it connects the first time, every time. So, I decided to use my phone during the day instead of the Aircard. Doesn't seem logical to me that the phone would get better and more consistent connections than the PCMCIA card...then again, it's half the price for unlimited data using the phone, so I'm not one to argue with the reality.

Thanks for looking into this though. I'll be interested to know what your tests reveal.


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