Using a Novatel U760 on Snow Lepoard (with automatic ejecting)

One of the most useful new features in Snow Leopard is built-in support for many common WWAN USB devices used to connect to the internet over a 3G connection. This means that instead of having to use a special application (such as "Mobile Connect" when connecting with Bell), you can just use the new menu applet instead. I'm using a Novatel U760 adapter, and here are the steps I used to make its use seamless under 10.6.

Uninstall the old Leopard drivers

If you've upgraded from a 10.5 installation which had the Novatel drivers installed, you'll need to uninstall them manually. While they still allow you to connect, they do prevent the built-in drivers from working, and don't seem to work with Internet Sharing. There isn't an automatic uninstaller, so for now move the following files to your desktop, and trash them when everything is working with the built-in drivers:

  • /Library/LaunchAgents/com.novatelwireless.NvtlServer.plist
  • /System/Library/Extensions/NovatelWireless3G.kext
  • /System/Library/Extensions/NovatelWirelessFilter.kext
  • /Applications/Mobile Connect (or whatever your connect application is branded as by your ISP)

Once these files are out of the way, remove the USB adapter and reboot. If you're a CLI hacker, you can use kextunload and launchtctl to unload everything without rebooting.

Test that your adapter works with the built-in drivers

After rebooting, insert the USB adapter. The Novatel U760 will present itself as a USB storage device with the drivers to install. Eject the volume ("MobileConnect" in my case), but leave the adapter connected. After a moment or two, the adapter will switch into it's network mode, and OS X will detect the adapter. Click "Network Preferences..." to confirm the connection. OS X automatically filled in the required fields for me, so it should "just work" unless your ISP didn't pre-configure your adapter for you. Click "Connect", and in a moment you should be online. As well, the menu applet will now show your connection status, along with options to connect and disconnect. The Novatel U760 doesn't seem to communicate signal strength properly, but that will hopefully be fixed in a later OS X revision.

Automate the volume ejection process

Remembering to eject and unmount the driver installation volume is a bit of a pain, but OS X has the ability to automatically do this for us. launchd can be notified to run an action whenever a folder changes, without any additional overhead. Download the attached ca.abdevelopment.umount-mobileconnect.plist and save it to ~/Library/LaunchAgents, or /Library/LaunchAgents to have it apply for all users. This file will automatically detach any volume mounted at /Volumes/MobileConnect. Log out and back in to have the new file load, or use launchctl.

If your adapter uses a different volume name, then open up the plist in Property List Editor or TextEdit and change the path as needed. If any other large ISPs are using different volume names, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll add them to this page.

AttachmentSize
ca.abdevelopment.umount-mobileconnect.plist495 bytes

Comments

Yes! WWAN is a win.

When I first saw the built in option, I had incorrectly assessed that it implied that the wireless network cards shipped with Apple computers had WWAN capabilities; I'm sure one day, this will be a reality. How do you find the 3G USB stick? Can it replace a DSL/Cable connection for general internet access?

Now if Apple will just fix their internet connection sharing, and allow you to share out the 3G connection with WPA2 encryption over the built in aircard, things would be perfect.

(Apparently, there's no technical limitation-- WEP encryption is the only one offered because the feature has just slipped to the side.)

Both Bell and Rogers sell USB

Both Bell and Rogers sell USB adapters. They can't replace a wired connection as they both have pretty atrocious bandwidth limits; the Bell service is something like $30 / month for 6GB of transfer.

I did open Wifi sharing and it worked fine, but we were up north with no one around to try to steal internet access. Long term, if I needed secure wifi sharing, I'd either set up a VM with Ubuntu (Linux supports the U760 adapter as well), or a dedicated machine.

I also discovered by accident that my ancient cell phone is now supported for data transfer - 14.4 Kbps!

Bell Mobile Connect on Snow Leopard

Andrew, thanks for the above tip. Since moving to snow leopard with the Bell Mobile Connect program and the U760 USB stick, I have had consistent system freezes and messages to reboot! If I removed the USB stick and did not start the Mobile Connect program, my system ran fine!

I followed your instructions above but had to make a few changes to it. The com.novatelwireless.nvtlserver.plist file was not in the directory you specified but in "launchDaemons". Also in that same directory was a file called "Mobile Conect.plist". I deleted that also. Everything else went fine as per your notes. I did not have to automate the ejection process. After first reboot and establishment of the network connection, I shut down and rebooted the mac with the stick still installed - everything worked fine

Will let you know if using the native snow leopard drivers for the U760 stops my system freezes.

Fred

Bell Mobile Connect on Snow Leopard

Andrew, no system freezes for 24 hours - a miracle! A small correction to the above message. I did have to implement the automatic ejection of the MobileConnect Volume on startup. When I shut the system down and started back up the volume did appear. Restart it did not. Anyway all is working well now. Many thanks for your workaround.

Fred

Glad to hear it's working for

Glad to hear it's working for you.

I wonder if the RunAtLoad key would make it work for a full shutdown? It makes sense what's happening, since a full shutdown will kill power to the modem, flipping it back to USB disk mode.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Label</key>
<string>ca.abdevelopment.umount-mobileconnect</string>
<key>ProgramArguments</key>
<array>
<string>hdiutil</string>
<string>detach</string>
<string>/Volumes/MobileConnect</string>
</array>
<key>QueueDirectories</key>
<array>
<string>/Volumes/MobileConnect</string>
</array>
<key>RunAtLoad</key>
<true/>
</dict>
</plist>

Novatel U760

I sure am glad I found this article because I had about 19 panics, 1 about every 24 hrs. Bell could not help me till they finally tried with their workaround on the 19th of April about 10 a.m. edt. It did not work. Apple has not answered me yet since April 11th.
Yours has been working fine since some hours after that, I thank you very much.

I still have some strange happenings in some logs.
Window server: Apr 21 05:36:30 [70] kCGErrorIllegalArgument: CGXSetTrackingAreaOption : Invalid tracking area
system log: Apr 21 08:15:46XXXXXXXXXXXXX com.apple.DirectoryServices[15]: YP server for domain bell not responding, still trying
Apr 21 08:15:46 XXXXXXXXXXX ypbind[27]: dead domain bell

NK

ypbind is for NIS passwords,

ypbind is for NIS passwords, so it seems really strange that your system is doing that, unless you or someone else set that up. But, glad to hear that your kernel panics have stopped.

New Novatel Drivers

Andrew, this is absolutely the more elegant solution - but Novatel has published supposedly SnowLeopard compatible drivers for the U760 from this link: < http://www.novatelwireless.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article... >

Now, let's see, which do I want? Two new 3rd-party System-level kernel extensions or a launchd script? Hmm... that didn't take long :)

Thanks for the link. Seeing

Thanks for the link. Seeing as it appears to provide no other improvements other then breaking the OS X menu applet, I can't see why it would be worth installing their drivers. If anyone does try it and finds any benefits, I'd be glad to know what they are.

Thousand thanks for great tip Andrew

I recently bought a new Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard 10.6.6 and could not get it to work. I still have my other Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard 10.5.8 where the key worked fine. However this was preventing me to upgrade that older Mac to 10.6.6 as I thought it the Bell driver did not work on 10.6 as it seems to indicate when u download their Mobile Connect on their web site.

However, your fix just did it great for me. Like Fred I found the The com.novatelwireless.nvtlserver.plist file in "launchDaemons" and I also removed the file "Mobile Conect.plist" in the same directory. Other then this everything work great.

Again thanks for posting this. I'm now off to install 10.6 on my older Mac and get to use iMovie 11 on it :)]

Signal Strength dislay

As for The Novatel U760 not communicating signal strength properly this appears to be a problem related to the Bell Connect stick.

I also have a Verizon MiFi which I setup the same way as the Bell Connect USB stick and the Verizon displays the signal strength very nicely. I did also setup the Mifi to auto-eject and it works nicely except that it requires two auto eject (must be in the Mifi card to retry once before giving up).

This was very smooth to install that way on Snow Leopard. I won't go in all the detail about conflict with Verizon and Bell I had when I installed both client on my Mac Leopard originally but it took me a lot longer to resolve then I had wished for and I also had to figure it out myself as Bell and Verizon tech support (level 3 support as well) did not provide any useful help.

The only thing really missing is the usage information provided by these clients but I always check on the web for accurate information so no big deal really.

Thank You

Thank you so much for these intelligent instructions!! I am seventeen years old and I really don't know too much about computers. I got a macbook pro on sunday and have struggled all week trying to connect to the internet consistantly. I would fool around with files and every time the icon to connect at the top of the screen would randomly appear eventually but I didn't know how I got it up there. I called Bell and they had no idea what was wrong. Clicking eject without ejecting made it pop up immediately. You are a life saver...or a tleast a temper saver. Thanx again!

You Saved the Day

Andrew,

I LOVE you! Not only did you save the day, you restored marital harmony! I recently converted my Husband from Windows to a Mac. Everything has worked well - except for his Verizon Novatel U760 card. I suspected the issue was an old driver on the card, but I didn't know how to go about removing the old driver so the Apple built-in drivers would work.

Your instructions were crystal clear and your plist file works like a champ. For Verizon, the volume name is VZAccess Manager.

Thank you!!!

Steph

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