I am looking for an internal PCIe WWAN (UMTS or LTE) card that will work flawlessly with Linux (specifically Ubuntu, currently on 16.04) on a HP EliteBook 6930p. My requirements are:

  1. A internal device that I don't have to plug in before I can use it.
  2. All software (drivers etc.) available as packages from the standard repos
  3. Reliability, no major stability issues.

I have used a Huawei USB stick as well as an Option ExpressPort adapter, both of which were plug-and-play and worked reliably – were it not for the fact that they are additional external devices to carry around, violating #1.

I have also tried two PCIe cards: one is the stock HP un2300 (GOBI 2000), which will not be recognized without providing a firmware blob (which needs to be extracted from the Windows driver package and placed somewhere in the filesystem) – which is a major hack operation and thus violates #2 (and still doesn't work after the operation, thus also violating #3). The other is an Ericsson F5521gw (tried in a different laptop), which is recognized instantly and requires no more than entering basic network parameters to connect – but will at some point go into sleep mode and never wake up again, thus violating #3.

Ubuntu has a list at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NetworkManager/Hardware/3G, but it appears somewhat unclear as to what works out of the box and what requires hacking.

PC Engines has a short list of PCIe 3G modems supported by their hardware, which (among others) runs various flavors of Linux, but no information on support level.

pfSense has a list of 3G/4G modems known to work. As pfSense is BSD-based, the list may be of limited relevance to Linux – though devices on the list are likely to have a free driver for a non-Windows OS, which in turn makes it likely that a Linux driver is also available for these devices (or will be at some point). On the other hand, the HP un2300 is also on the list, despite the requirement to download a firmware blob, just like its successor, the un2400 (GOBI 2000).

Does anyone know of PCIe UMTS adapters known to work with Ubuntu or Debian, or have any other way of figuring out whether I can expect a given device to work with Ubuntu (other than by trying it out)?

  • This site is for hardware recommendations, as in, you give us specific hardware you are looking into, or requirements for said hardware, and we can make a recommendation.. Doing research into what works "out of the box" with linux, is a bit outside of scope, voting to close as a technical support question – NZKshatriya Jan 13 '17 at 16:52
  • Try sticking with anything Atheros based. Aside from this, you are leaving out almost all information required to make a recommendation. What hardware are you using, what versions of hardware, what distro and version of linux, etc. Also, budget would be a good idea. – NZKshatriya Jan 13 '17 at 16:57
  • @NZKshatriya I asked pretty much the same question on askUbuntu (before Hardware Recommendations was created), where it was closed because it asked for hardware recommendations :-) I’ve added details on distro and hardware used. As for openness of the question—in “Related” I’m seeing a bunch of similar questions of the type ”is there an X adapter with proper Linux support”, and I’d consider that the very point of a hardware recommendation site. – user149408 Jan 13 '17 at 21:44
  • I can honestly say that running on an HP system and running any distro of linux will be more hands on than with most other systems. HP is about as user friendly with non-standard OS's as a live landmine. But you are correct, the driver for your current card would likely need to be manually added to the kernel. Now, what proper Linux support is, is much different than Windows. Most linux users expect to have to have to manually configure/compile drivers. – NZKshatriya Jan 13 '17 at 22:31
  • Hmm, the Elitebook 6930p specs show it running an Intel Wifi Link 5300 for its wireless internet. This should be supported by iwlwifi – NZKshatriya Jan 13 '17 at 22:36

The FSF has h-node, a database of hardware that works with free operating systems. Currently, the only PCIe WWAN adapter in the list is the Sierra Wireless, Inc. MC8775.

There is one caveat, however: some laptop models have a BIOS that will refuse to boot an operating system if a third-party WWAN adapter is found which is not on a “whitelist” of the BIOS. HP is notorious for this, and the 6930p is among those models—so check before you buy! Alternatively, some sites offer BIOS upgrades which remove the whitelisting (just google “HP 6930p WWAN whitelist” for more information), no experience with that, though.

Sierra Wireless MC7455 (mPCIe) or EM7455 (m.2)

This devices can also change the USB PID if you run into whitelist issues. Just lookup which USB PID is supported and change it with an AT-command.

  • Thanks! I happen to have access to a Dell laptop with the DW5811e (which is the EM7455) and just tried it—the card seems to work indeed. As for whitelisting on the 6930p, I have no experience with that and cannot tell for sure if changing USB VID&PID is enough (and will not break anything else). You might still need to flash a patched BIOS, as mentioned in my answer. – user149408 Oct 12 '17 at 19:07

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