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    Michael is a trainer and consultant specializing in making mobility technology work in people's everyday lives.
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Archive for the ‘Bluetooth’ Category

Using a Linux server as a Bluetooth Network access point.

Posted by Michael Brown on January 22, 2007

One astute blog reader noticed I use my Linux server for Internet access, and wrote to ask me how I did it. I’d set it up a couple of years ago to work with my Tungsten T, and I only had a minor hiccup when I tried to switch to the Treo (I can’t remember if I had the same problem with the Tungsten T, but I think so); more on that later.

The definitive guide to HotSyncing over Bluetooth can be found at, in the Bluetooth HotSync How-to. Internet access is included in it under “surfing the web”. It’s a bit dated, as pilot-link and Bluez are usually included in most major distributions these days; just use your package management system to install it, instead of from source. You have to make sure ip forwarding is turned on for your kernel. On Debian/Ubuntu/Knoppix distributions, you do that by editing the /etc/network file and adding ip_forward=yes (then save). It will take effect as of your next reboot. For the impatient who want to try it without rebooting, use the following as root (or with sudo) from the commandline echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

The hiccup I had with the Treo involved pairing it to the Bluetooth dongle on the server. In the network preferences for the BTLan connection I made, I had to pair it using “Connect to PC”, and then after it was paired, I had to change the setting to “Connect to LAN”. It wouldn’t pair if it was set to LAN the first time around; it may be because the Dongle isn’t advertising network access as an available service. I haven’t bothered to look into it further, as it works fine once paired as a PC.

Bluetooth Connection to PC
BT Connection to LAN

As a SOHO network access point for a single user, it works pretty well. According to the speed reports at, the Treo’s Blazer web browser averages between 125-150 kbps. I can pick up my e-mail just fine, and local access to my fileserver over ssh (secure shell) runs great as well. More data intensive stuff like file transfers or VNC (kind of like remote desktop) are about the same speed, which is slower than Wi-Fi or a wired network, but still very usable. The trade off is speed for convenience and no cellular data fees; with Bluetooth dongles available in the $25 range, it does make for inexpensive wireless access at home.


Posted in Bluetooth, Linux, Palm, Technology, Treo | Leave a Comment »