Aircard 555






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Aircard 555

Aircard 555 CDMA Cards on Linux

This page documents some small notes about Sierra Wireless Aircard 555s that I could not find elsewhere on the web. The 555s are 1xRTT PCMCIA cards for mobile Internet access. I have one (from work) w/ Verizon service. Long story short, they're generally very easy to use on Linux. However, they don't work with a particular kernel/pccard/pcmciautils version that shipped with a particular version of Ubuntu we were using at work.


Getting the cards working on Gentoo (which I use on my machines) is near trivial. Follow these instructions, emerging packages as necessary (e.g. pppconfig). You may have trouble running pack_cis. See this note.


Basically, the cards won't work w/ Dapper Drake (6.06) because of a problem with either the kernel or the closely associated pcmciautils package. I haven't spent the time to figure out/learn where exactly the problem was. You can work around it, as noted in the kernel bug links below, by using cardmgr instead of pccard, but that would be unfortunate. The specific kernel I had trouble with was:

  2.6.15-26-386 #1 PREEMPT Fri Jul 7 19:27:00 UTC 2006 i686

Switching to Edgy Eft (6.10) basically fixes the problem. Specifically, I know it works using kernel:

  2.6.17-10-generic #2 SMP Fri OCt 13 18:45:35 UTC 2006 i686

Under Edgy Eft, the card will be detected correctly but you still need to supply the correct PCMCIA Card Information Structure. You can follow these instructions to create this, or you can use this file I generated. If you choose to build the CIS file yourself, you may have trouble with glibc. See this note.

Once you've downloaded or generated the file, place it in /lib/firmware/SW_555_SER.cis. Follow these instructions to setup a PPP connection for the device (pppconfig is undoubtedly installed on your machine). The only change is that the device will probably show up on /dev/ttyS1 instead of ttyS2 as it does in the guide and on my Gentoo machines. Check your system logs (e.g. /var/log/syslog) to confirm this.

Basic Usage

After inserting the card, a blinking yellow/red light means it's searching for service. Green means it's found the carrier. Use pon to start and stop the connection. This may take a while. It's helpful to watch your kernel logs while doing this to see if messages are getting through. If the carrier is lost, you probably won't get it back without re-inserting the card. I haven't tried a soft re-insert.


For posterity's sake, the CIS data you need is the following, taken from here:

    EEPROM 250ns, 512b
  manfid 0x013f, 0x0710
  funcid serial_port
  vers_1 7.0, "Sierra Wireless", "AirCard 555", "A555", "Rev 1"
  config base 0x0700 mask 0x0073 last_index 0x03
  cftable_entry 0x20 [default]
    io 0x03f8-0x03ff [lines=3] [8bit] [range]
    irq mask 0x3fbc [level]
  cftable_entry 0x21
    io 0x02f8-0x02ff [lines=3] [8bit] [range]
  cftable_entry 0x22
    io 0x03e8-0x03ef [lines=3] [8bit] [range]
  cftable_entry 0x23
    io 0x02e8-0x02ef [lines=3] [8bit] [range]
  cftable_entry 0x24
    io 0x0000-0x0007 [lines=3] [8bit]

The card identifiers are:

  card "Sierra Wireless AirCard 555"
    manfid 0x0192, 0xa555
    cis "cis/aircard555.dat"
    bind "serial_cs"

PPP settings for a Verizon account are the following, again taken from here:

  • Nameservers: Dynamic DNS
  • Authentication: CHAP (Crypto Handshake Auth Protocol)
  • Username: Your 10-digit Verizon account phone number for the card
  • Password: vzw
  • Baud rate: 115200
  • Pulse/tone: Tone
  • Dial number: #777
  • Modem Port: /dev/ttyS1 or /dev/ttyS2


Basic documentation:

Notes on the kernel bug re. PCMCIA serial modems, which was later resolved:

Official but not very helpful howto on transitioning from cardmgr to pcmciautils.

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