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Networking HowTos

Using Mobile Data

If your correct provider settings do not show up in Settings » Mobile » Mobile Data » Access Points, you can add a new one with the [+] button. Add a network name and your APN, e.g. Name: 3 internet APN: The correct settings depend on your provider. If mobile data does not work, make sure that the “mobile data” toggle is turned on (this happens more often than you would think).

Connecting to the Mobian device

Connect to a running SSH server

This section explains how to connect to your Mobian device using a ssh server that you have installed on it. You should protect your ssh server to not allow logins via the numeric password if you want to remain safe.

via Wifi

If your pinephone is connected to your local Wifi and you have an SSH server running, try to access it with `ssh mobian@mobian`. If that does not work out (e.g. because your network assigned the device a different hostname, you will need to find out the hostname/IP address to connect to.

via USB-C cable connected to another computer

It's possible to connect to Mobian with a similar end result as using adb shell with an Android device, but using the USB-C connection and SSH instead. When connecting a Mobian device to a Linux computer via the USB-C connection, a network interface is made available to the computer, and utilizing udev and NetworkManager an IP address is assigned to both. This allows connecting to Mobian via a hardwired SSH session, instead of having to rely on wifi (which may not be 100% reliable). These instructions are written with the PinePhone as the sample device, and Linux Mint as the host computer OS, but should work for other devices/OSes as well.

  1. Connect the PinePhone to the computer with a USB-C cable.
  2. Once connected, the system should create a network interface via NetworkManager. Learn the IP by issueing `sudo ip address show dev usb0` and looking for the IP address in the range of 10.66.0.XX (or install the graphical WhatIP tool).
  3. A connected Linux Desktop will automatically create a USB network connection.
  4. Once complete, it should be possible to SSH into Mobian at the IP address 10.66.0.XX using the username mobian, and the password 1234:
    • ssh mobian@
Network overlap with

When connecting a Mobian device to a computer via USB-C, Mobian is configured to use the IP address, in the subnet This can cause an issue if Mobian is also connected to a wifi network which utilizes a subnet within the same subnet. The configuration of the USB connection could be changed to use a different or smaller subnet, or a more specific route can be configured for the wifi connection to account for this special case. Here is how to add a persistent more specific route.

  1. Connect the Mobian device via USB-C to a computer, and SSH into it (see Connect via USB-C and SSH)
  2. Connect the Mobian device to the desired wifi network
  3. Identify the name of the wifi network in Network Manager
    • $ nmcli connection
      NAME               UUID                                  TYPE      DEVICE 
      USB                a3ee13d7-85ce-4386-8ba9-419a67309692  ethernet  usb0   
      wifi-network-name  bfe0a288-f193-4eeb-ba00-7d6f15ec27f6  wifi      wlan0
  4. Add a more specific route for the destination network, using the wifi network's name and gateway IP address
    • $ sudo nmcli connection modify wifi-network-name +ipv4.routes "" +ipv4.route-metric 25
    • - This is the destination network, swap in whatever the desired network is
    • - This is the gateway to use for that network, in this case it's the wifi network's gateway.
    • wifi-network-name - This is the name of the wifi network.
  5. Reload the connection configuration
    • $ sudo nmcli connection reload wifi-network-name
  6. It should now be possible to route packets to the destination network successfully over the wifi connection, instead of using the USB-C network connection.
    • The route table should look something similar to this:
    • $ ip route
      default via dev wlan0 proto dhcp metric 25 dev usb0 proto kernel scope link src metric 25 via dev wlan0 proto static metric 25 dev wlan0 proto kernel scope link src metric 25

Connection sharing/Tethering

It is possible to share your phone's mobile data with another device. Either create a wifi hotspot that others connect to, or use a USB cable to forward data.

Sharing mobile data through wifi hotspot

Visit the settings → Wifi. The “3 dot” menu will offer a “Create WiFi Hotspot…” entry, which is all that you should need to create a hotspot. Unfortunately in gnome-control-center 3.36, there is still a bug which requires you to go back to the bluetooth page (just enter it and leave it immediately again) and back to the Wifi section until it becomes enabled.

Stop the hotspot from the Wifi page in the settings app.

Hotspot: The geeky way

The geeky way to use the terminal to create a new hotspot connection with SSID `Pinephone` and Password `HotspotPassword` is:

sudo nmcli device wifi hotspot ifname wlan0 con-name Hotspot ssid Pinephone  password HotspotPassword

Bluetooth Personal Area Networking (PAN)

Far more power/battery efficient than sharing via WiFi hotspot; security is through Bluetooth pairing. Starting work from the Maemo wiki, requires changing to correct file names and locations for Mobian (this is from Maemo5 Linux) with an iptables MASQUERADE script. almost identical to the USB sharing below the link is to implementation in Maemo linux, those instructions will require modification to work on Mobian. Please edit this entry with instructions if you have it working.

Sharing internet from your PC via USB

Set up ip-forwarding on your PC and configure your USB ethernet device's IP:

echo 1 | sudo tee /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
sudo iptables -A POSTROUTING -t nat  -s -j MASQUERADE
sudo iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT
sudo ip addr add dev $USB_INTERFACE

where you should replace $USB_INTERFACE by the name of your interface (e.g enp7s0u1c2 or usb0)

You might need to set the correct DNS server in /etc/resolv.conf:

nameserver $LOCAL_DNS_IP

where you should replace $LOCAL_DOMAIN by your local domain (e.g local) and $LOCAL_DNS_IP by a valid DNS server (e.g or

Connecting the Pinephone to windows via USB

As at 11/22/2021, Mobian is setup to connect using the ECM protocol (see, which works well with Linux, but Windows instead requires network devices to connect using the RNDIS protocol. The connection protocol can be modified through the kernel filesystem interfaces.

In Mobian run the following:

cd /sys/kernel/config/usb_gadget/g1

# stop the USB interface
echo "" | sudo tee UDC

# remove the old device
rm configs/c.1/ecm.usb0
rmdir functions/ecm.usb0

# create a new RNDIS device
mkdir functions/rndis.usb0
ln -s functions/rndis.usb0/ configs/c.1/

# start the interface
echo "" | sudo tee UDC

Note: these changes are temporary and the old device will be re-created on a reboot.

In Windows the Pinephone often be allocated the wrong driver. To allocate the correct driver:

  • Open device manager (search for “devices” in the start menu)
  • Find the device that corresponds to the Pinephone (it will appear when the Pinephone is plugged in, often with a yellow triangle indicating that it is not working correctly)
  • Right click on the device
  • Select “Update Driver”
  • Choose to select from local machine, and then to select from a list.
  • In the list choose “Network Adapters”, then choose “Microsoft”, then “RNDIS Compatible Internet Sharing Device”


By default, Mobian has no listening services on any internet port and a firewall is not necessary. However when you install services, such as openssh, web servers and whatever, you might want to lock down your device using a firewall.

Mobian can use any firewall that is supported by Debian. Debian is currently introducing nftables and fades out iptables, but the latter still works (using nftables under the hood). One easy to use firewall is the uncomplicated firewall (UFW). It can be installed with sudo apt install ufw and can be enabled on a terminal with sudo ufw enable. Be careful though, when doing this over a SSH connection, you will lock yourself out :).

On my Mobian I got an error message ip6tables-restore v1.8.7 (nf_tables): Couldn't load match `rt':No such file or directory, which is most likely due to the not included kernel module (CONFIG_NFT_RT) but the firewall still worked fine.

Useful status output can be gathered by sudo ufw status and sudo ufw status verbose. Other useful commands are “ufw allow ssh” (check /etc/ufw/applications.d/ which applications are possible) or manually allow ports.

NOTE: If you prefer graphical apps, the package gufw allows to configure the firewall via a graphical application. However, it requires to have the “x11-xserver-utils” package installed (or it will crash), as it makes use of the “xhost” program in order to allow root to display any application on the screen.


Setting up nftables with a minimal set of rules (only allow ssh from WLAN, USB, and LAN) is rather easy. Install nftables apt-get install nftables, enable the service via systemctl enable nftables and configure the policy accordingly in /etc/nftables.conf

#!/usr/sbin/nft -f

flush ruleset

table inet filter {
        chain input_ipv4 {
		# Ethernet (covers WLAN, LAN, USB)
		iiftype "ether" icmp type echo-request limit rate 5/second counter accept comment "ICMP ping"


        chain input_ipv6 {
		# Ethernet (covers WLAN, LAN, USB, it does not cover MobileData)
		iiftype "ether" icmpv6 type echo-request limit rate 5/second counter accept comment "ICMPv6 ping"
		iiftype "ether" icmpv6 type { nd-router-advert, nd-neighbor-solicit, nd-neighbor-advert } counter accept comment "IPv6 icmp"
		iiftype "ether" ip6 saddr fe80::/10 ip6 daddr fe80::/10 udp sport 547 udp dport 546 counter accept comment "dhcpv6"

	chain input {
		type filter hook input priority 0; policy drop;
		iif "lo" accept comment "accept loopback"

		# stateful
		ct state vmap { established : accept, related : accept, invalid : drop }

		# split by IP version
		meta protocol vmap { ip : jump input_ipv4, ip6 : jump input_ipv6 }

		# Ethernet (covers WLAN, LAN, USB, it does not cover MobileData)
		iiftype "ether" tcp dport 22 counter accept comment "access to ssh"

	chain forward {
		type filter hook forward priority 0;

	chain output {
		type filter hook output priority 0;

Once done, load the new policy set using systemctl restart nftables. If you encounter issues and suspect this is due to the firewall, flush the rules by running nft flush fuleset.

There seems to be a bug in nftables when it comes to listing the rules using nft list ruleset. It does not provide the “input interface type”.



Wireguard works well with mobian, although no graphical configuration is integrated.

In a terminal, enter the following command: apt install –no-install-recommends wireguard-tools. You can now use the wg-quick command to manage WireGuard tunnels.

Fortunately, NetworkManager, which manages network connections in mobian has automatic wireguard support natively built in, and it can be configured on the terminal! See this blogpost for details on how to set up wireguard support in NetworkManager.

Note: If there are still problems, it has been reported that the IPv6 configuration in wireguard can cause trouble and needs to be removed (see same issue linked to earlier). (Please update if this changes)

Alternative Wireguard method

If for some reason the method above, involving network-manager, appears to complex and/or doesnt work, one can install Wireguard and have it always-on using a non-network-manager method:

1/ generate a pair of keys using wg genkey, and create a /etc/wireguard/wg0.conf (with umask 077 in the folder)

PrivateKey = xxxx (private_key)
PublicKey = yyyy (public_key)
EndPoint = x.y.z.a:port
AllowedIPs =

2/ using systemd, activate the interface using

sudo systemctl enable wg-quick@wg0

Should work for routing all communications from interfaces configured through network-manager

Always-On VPN

VPN functionality will be added to Gnome-Control-Center in the future, but for now you can configure this via nmcli. This guide will explain how to import an OpenVPN connection, and then configure other connections to require it as a “secondary”. (see the always great Arch wiki for more on this)

1. Add OpenVPN support for NetworkManager by running sudo apt install network-manager-openvpn.

2. Import your OpenVPN .ovpn file by running sudo nmcli connection import type openvpn file {yourovpnfile.ovpn}

3. Until this is integrated with gnome-keyring, you must store your username and password in the .nmconnection file (currently insecure due to lack of disk encryption, which is coming in the future as well). Edit your VPN config in /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections, where the file is {youropenvpnfilename}.nmconnection. Change the password-flags to 0. At the bottom of the [vpn] block, add username={your username}. Then, below the [vpn] block, add the following:

password={your vpn password}

4. Obtain the UUID of your VPN connection by running sudo nmcli con show {your vpn connection name}; the UUID is the second line.

5. In the same directory, you can now modify any connection, including your cellular one, to bring up and require the VPN connection by adding this to the end of the [connection] block: secondaries={UUID}; (dont forget the trailing semi-colon).

6. Restart NetworkManager with sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager for the changes to take effect.


Randomizing MAC address

If you want to dynamically use a different MAC address for your Wifi card (MAC spoofing), NetworkManager has everyting built in. The default value “randomization during Wi-Fi scanning” (wifi.scan-rand-mac-address=yes) changes the wifis MAC address when searching for available access points as to be less recognizable and trackable (and is therefore recommendable in general).

Create and edit the file: /etc/NetworkManager/conf.d/wifi_rand_mac.conf

# "yes" is already the default for scanning

# Randomize MAC for every ethernet connection
# Generate a random MAC for each WiFi and associate the two permanently.

Depending on whether you want random MAC addresses for your ethernet connections (basically everything connected via USB) or the built in wifi, change the above settings. Possible useful values are random (create a new one on every connection), stable (create a random one and keep it), preserve (don't change anything, this is the default).

Last, restart NetworkManager:

 sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager.service

Check this useful GNOME blog post for more details. If this solution does not work well for you, there is the package macchanger to achive the same.