How to setup Bluetooth

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This HOWTO tells you how to install and configure Bluetooth on your Linux driven ThinkPad and how to make the most common Bluetooth applications (like connecting your mobile phone etc.) work.

BlueZ Installation

Building from source

Get the source packages from www.bluez.org.

Build each of them with the usual steps:

$ ./configure && make
# make install

Gentoo ebuilds

Under Gentoo, install the following ebuilds:

  • net-wireless/bluez-bluefw
  • net-wireless/bluez-firmware
  • net-wireless/bluez-hcidump
  • net-wireless/bluez-hciemu
  • net-wireless/bluez-libs
  • net-wireless/bluez-utils
NOTE!
net-wireless/bluez-kernel is not needed, since the current version is included in your kernel.

Other distributions

You will find packages for Debian, Red Hat and Slackware on the packages page of the BlueZ project.

Configuring the kernel

Since the Bluetooth card is connected to the USB subsystem, you will need to enable USB support in your kernel:

Device Drivers → USB support → <M>Support for Host-side USB (CONFIG_USB)
Device Drivers → USB support → [*]USB device file system (CONFIG_USB_DEVICEFS)

Choose an appropriate USB host driver, one of:

Device Drivers → USB support → <M>EHCI HCD (USB 2.0) support (CONFIG_USB_EHCI_HCD)
Device Drivers → USB support → <M>UHCI HCD support (CONFIG_USB_UHCI)
Device Drivers → USB support → <M>OHCI HCD support (CONFIG_USB_OHCI)

Enable Bluetooth subsystem and drivers:

Networking → <*>Bluetooth subsystem support (CONFIG_BT)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → <*>L2CAP protocol support (CONFIG_BT_L2CAP)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → <*>SCO links support (CONFIG_BT_SCO)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → <*>RFCOMM protocol support (CONFIG_BT_RFCOMM)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → [*]RFCOMM TTY support (CONFIG_BT_RFCOMM_TTY)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → <*>BNEP protocol support (CONFIG_BT_BNEP)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → <*>HID protocol support (CONFIG_BT_HID)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → Bluetooth device drivers → <M>HCI USB driver (CONFIG_BT_HCIUSB)
Networking → Bluetooth subsystem support → Bluetooth device drivers → [*]SCO (voice) support (CONFIG_BT_HCIUSB_SCO)

Make sure that the according modules are loaded:

# modprobe uhci_hcd ; modprobe ehci_hcd ; modprobe hci_usb

Serial connection over Bluetooth

One common application is to connect your mobile phone and use it as a modem to connect to the internet via GPRS or 3G (UMTS). A lot of phones do this through using AT-commands on a serial over Bluetooth connection.

By configuring /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf correctly, you'll get a device /dev/rfcomm0.

Eventually one could use the command:

# rfcomm bind 0 00:15:A0:7A:90:F2 3

The hardware address should be replaced with that of your phone. If you don't know the hardware address of your phone yet, you can get it by running:

# hcitool scan

The last parameter ('3') is the channel to use. I spent quite some time fighting before I found out of that one; I didn't find it documented anywhere, but by running

# sdptool records 00:15:A0:7A:90:F2

I found channel 3 to be the right one for my phone. You will have to experiment to find the right one for your phone setup; for T-Mobile GSM/GPRS carrier in USA this is channel 1.

NOTE!
By experimenting, the bluetooth stack on the cellphone may crash. Reboot it if that happens.

Alternativly one could use the following to find the right channel:

# sdptool search DUN
Inquiring ...
Searching for DUN on 00:11:22:33:44:55 ...
Service Name: Dial-up Networking
Service RecHandle: 0x10001
Service Class ID List:
  "Dialup Networking" (0x1103)
  "Generic Networking" (0x1201)
Protocol Descriptor List:
  "L2CAP" (0x0100)
  "RFCOMM" (0x0003)
    Channel: 4

Now /dev/rfcomm0 exists.

At this point you can use an automatic dialing utility such as wvdial, editing the config file to point to the modem at /dev/rfcomm0, and everything should work just like a land line!

NOTE!
If you experience strange disconnects while using wvdial, disable "Carrier Check" in your wvdial configuration.

You may directly access the modem (i.e. by using minicom:)

$ minicom -s

set the serial device to be /dev/rfcomm0, choose 'exit' and then the AT-commands can be typed in. With my operator (Telenor, Norway) it seemed simple enough, I just entered

ATDT *99#

and lots of cryptic letters started dancing across the screen, indicating a ppp session startup.

To configure pppd create /etc/ppp/peers/nokia with particularly those lines:

/dev/rfcomm0
connect '/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/ppp/chat-nokia'
debug
10.0.1.3
crtscts
noipdefault
ipcp-accept-local
defaultroute
novj
nobsdcomp
novjccomp
nopcomp
noaccomp
usepeerdns

Furthermore, you need a simple chat script. Create /etc/ppp/chat-nokia:

'TIMEOUT' '5'
'ABORT' 'BUSY'
'ABORT' 'ERROR'
'ABORT' 'NO ANSWER'
'ABORT' 'NO CARRIER'
'ABORT' 'NO DIALTONE'
'ABORT' 'Invalid Login'
'ABORT' 'Login incorrect'
 'ATZ'
'OK' 'ATDT*99#'
'~--' 

Run pppd with:

$ pppd call nokia

This should establish the internet connection.

NOTE!
Different network operators may require different call strings. For many carriers (including T-Mobile USA) "*99#" works without additional parameters.

For editing phonebook / ringtones / etc., the gammu utils (http://www.gamu.net) has been reported to work well, but this appears to be primarily for Nokia phones.

File Transfer

File transfers are accomplished through OBEX transfer, which I believe is basically an FTP over bluetooth connection. Once you have bonded with your phone (yes, I know you love your sexy RAZR, but here I mean paired it with your laptop via bluetooth), you can easily use "obexftp" to transfer files. As an example,

obexftp -b 00:01:02:03:04:05 -l

will list the root directory of the phone with bluetooth address 00:01:02:03:04:05. Refer to the man page for more of the unique commands. What a wonderful interface! Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a way to get a standard 'ftp' session using familiar commands (e.g. 'mget').

For a more user-friendly experience, you can use the kde tools, just launch

kbtobexclient

for a file browser. In the Location: option put

obex://[00:01:02:03:04:05]

to list the files. Note that the brackets *are* necessary. From there, you can list directories easily and batch download files.

External Links