Bluetooth using the gui in Ubuntu

Bluetooth is of course a well-known mechanism for connecting mobile phones and pda’s to computers and laptops. It is low-power, easy to setup, and works out of the box on most systems. Until recently setting up serial over bluetooth in ubuntu/debian wasn’t a trivial task. I was by all means doable, but for many people meant creating and copying, downloading and tailoring some command-line scripts. This difficulty is mostly still noticeable when looking at the sheer amount of blogposts and articles and wiki’s about this setup. The tools are there (bluez has been in development for years) and work great, but setup is not for Joe / Jane Average.

When I revisited using my mobile phone’s GPRS modem on my netbook via bluetooth (an Acer Aspire One, running Ubuntu Intrepid, 8.10), I found hundreds of articles detailing the aforementioned edits… and a couple about achieving the same with a gui. The sysadmin-side of me prefers console solutions as these can be used over ssh (so I can set this up for others), my advocate-, user-and blogging-sides wanted a gui.

I found Blueman ( I first read about it last november (at version 0.6) and was impressed, at time of this writing it is now at 1.02 and working even easier than before, thumbs up!

In this article I’ll have a look at setting up Blueman “the easy ubuntu way”, i.e. mostly from a gui, with package signatures and without using a terminal (I will have to cheat though :-( ).

Step 1, add the ppa
There are various ways of maintaining the repositories used by your system, editing /etc/apt/sources.list by hand or in the package manager, or adding the sources separately as files in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/. I like the modularity of the last option for my current purpose.
The blueman PPA is at This page also lists the ‘deb’ rules to use for apt’s sources.

To add this repository, press Alt+F2 to get to the ‘Run application’ dialog box, enter ‘gksu gedit’. Copy/paste the sources lines, save the file as ‘/etc/apt/sources.list.d/blueman.list’. It is important that the filenames ends in .list. Careful, the editor is running as root!
deb intrepid main
#deb-src intrepid main

When I have no direct need for the source I usually uncomment the deb-src rule.

Step 2, add the repository key
Ubuntu/Debian repositories are signed to check if the packages are valid and not tampered with. This is where I’ll cheat. I will add the key through the ‘Run application’ box. On the ppa’s homepage the public key fingerprint of the signing key is listed as: 951DC1E2. The following command will ask apt to fetch the corresponding key:
gksu "apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 951DC1E2"

(For more information see Adding a PPA to your Ubuntu repositories

Step 3, update the package list
Now we need to update the package cache. Start your package manager of choice (Synaptic) and reload.

Step 4, install
Now install the ‘blueman’ package, in Synaptic do a (quick) search for blueman, when the previous steps have gone as planned Synaptic should find the blueman package. Mark the blueman package, that should take care of dependencies as well (most important an updated bluez version), then apply or install.

Step 5, configuration and use
Open the manager, it is located in System -> Preferences. Enable bluetooth (or plug your adapter) if not active yet. (When running the manager is reachable by clicking the bluetooth icon in the tray.)

Setup is quite easy when you’ve setup a bluetooth connection once before (or did so on another os).

  • I use ‘Search’ to search for my phone.
  • Then ‘Add’ it to the known devices list.
  • Then ‘Bond’ (also known as pairing) the phone to the netbook.
  • Then ‘Trust’ the connection.

Now basic connectivity between phone and pc is setup. Then ‘Setup’ Dialup networking. (This is where the fun part begins).
As mentioned in the preface, I wanted to connect to the GPRS modem in my phone for mobile internet connection.

Step 6, create a mobile broadband connection
Click Setup, choose ‘Dialup networking’. It may ask you for sudo-password, but will only take a few seconds (in my tests). When done, you should see a /dev/rfcomm0 device entry when you right-click the phone and look in the ‘Serial devices’ menu. That is the serial device we’re after which can be used by the network manager applet. Just right-click the applet, ‘Edit connections’, ‘Mobile broadband’, ‘Add’ and setup your mobile provider’s settings. Now you can connect to it like to another network connection.

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