~tore Tore Anderson's technology blog

Huawei ME906s-158 (a.k.a. HP lt4132): Linux and IPv6 support (or lack thereof)

I recently purchased a new laptop, an HP EliteBook 820 G4. When ordering, I was given the choice of two different LTE WWAN modems: the HP lt4120 and the HP lt4132. The former is a rebranded Foxconn T77W595, while the latter is a rebranded Huawei ME906s-158.

Both modems cost about the same and there were reports of people getting them both working under Linux, so it didn’t seem to matter much which of them I chose. I eventually decided on the lt4132, the primary reason being that its specifications clearly state that it supports IPv6. This made the lt4132 seem like the safe choice, as I was unable to easily confirm that the lt4120 supported IPv6.

I was wrong. I should have opted for the lt4120. Read on for the details.

Linux support

The lt4132 did not work out of the box with my preferred Linux distribution Fedora 26; ModemManager didn’t recognise it as a supported modem.

The modem was visible in the output from usb-devices, however:

T:  Bus=01 Lev=01 Prnt=01 Port=02 Cnt=02 Dev#=  3 Spd=480 MxCh= 0
D:  Ver= 2.00 Cls=00(>ifc ) Sub=00 Prot=ff MxPS=64 #Cfgs=  3
P:  Vendor=03f0 ProdID=a31d Rev=01.02
S:  Manufacturer=HP
S:  Product=HP lt4132 LTE/HSPA+ 4G Module
S:  SerialNumber=0123456789ABCDEF
C:  #Ifs= 7 Cfg#= 2 Atr=a0 MxPwr=2mA
I:  If#= 0 Alt= 0 #EPs= 1 Cls=02(commc) Sub=06 Prot=00 Driver=cdc_ether
I:  If#= 1 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=0a(data ) Sub=06 Prot=00 Driver=cdc_ether
I:  If#= 2 Alt= 0 #EPs= 3 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=06 Prot=10 Driver=(none)
I:  If#= 3 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=06 Prot=13 Driver=(none)
I:  If#= 4 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=06 Prot=12 Driver=(none)
I:  If#= 5 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=06 Prot=14 Driver=(none)
I:  If#= 6 Alt= 0 #EPs= 2 Cls=ff(vend.) Sub=06 Prot=1b Driver=(none)

The problem here is Cfg#= 2, indicating that the modem is in configuration 2. The Linux kernel selects configuration 2 by default, but that does not work with ModemManager. Configuration 3 ( MBIM mode) is a much better choice.

Changing to configuration 3 is easy enough. Note that it is essential to first deconfigure the device by selecting configuration 0 and wait a few milliseconds. Going directly from 2 to 3 does not work. Thus:

$ echo 0 > /sys/bus/usb/devices/1-3/bConfigurationValue
$ sleep 1
$ echo 3 > /sys/bus/usb/devices/1-3/bConfigurationValue

The 1-3 part might not be correct for your system. If it’s not, grep lt4132 /sys/bus/usb/devices/*/product will probably tell you what the correct sysfs device path is.

This made ModemManager recognise the modem. At this point I could run nmcli con add type gsm ifname '*' apn telenor.smart to make NetworkManager successfully establish a mobile data connection. Well, ostensibly - it still didn’t quite work. All the data traffic was being blackholed. This was solved by enabling the ndp_to_end USB quirk, like so:

$ echo Y > /sys/class/net/wwp0s20f0u3c3/cdc_ncm/ndp_to_end

In the future, the lt4132 will be better supported out of the box. It will not be necessary to manually deal with these settings; the upcoming version of usb_modeswitch will automatically select USB configuration 3, and a patch I wrote to automatically enable the ndp_to_end USB quirk will be part of the Linux kernel starting with version 4.13.

In the interim, however, it is easy enough to automate the application of these tweaks by using udev rules. Simply create a file called, e.g., /etc/udev/rules.d/hp-lt4132.rules and add the following three lines to it:

ACTION=="add|change", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="03f0", ATTR{idProduct}=="a31d", ATTR{bConfigurationValue}!="3", ATTR{bConfigurationValue}:="0"
ACTION=="add|change", SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="03f0", ATTR{idProduct}=="a31d", ATTR{bConfigurationValue}!="3", RUN+="/bin/sh -c 'sleep 1; echo 3 > %S%p/bConfigurationValue'"
ACTION=="add|change", SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTRS{idVendor}=="03f0", ATTRS{idProduct}=="a31d", ATTR{cdc_ncm/ndp_to_end}=="N", ATTR{cdc_ncm/ndp_to_end}:="Y"

That’s all it takes. (You will probably want to change the vendor/product IDs 03f0/a31d if you don’t have the same HP-branded flavour of the Huawei ME906s-158 I do, though.)

Lack of IPv6 support

The Huawei ME906s-158 product page clearly specifies that the modem supports IPv6. Turns out, this is a lie - or at best, extremely misleading.

When I attempted to establish an IPv6 mobile data connection, it would just fail:

$ mmcli -m 0 --simple-connect=apn=telenor.smart,ip-type=ipv6
error: couldn't connect the modem: 'GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.libmbim.Error.Status.NoDeviceSupport: NoDeviceSupport'

Requesting dual-stack with ip-type=ipv4v6 instead would ostensibly succeed, but it would only yield an IPv4-only connection.

I also tried the modem under Windows 10. It was only able to get IPv4 connectivity there too, so it seems clear that this is a firmware issue. For the record, I’m on the latest firmware available fom HP, version 11.617.13.00.00.

In order to figure out what was going on, I used the option serial port driver to interact with the modem’s AT command interface:

$ modprobe option
$ echo 03f0 a31d > /sys/bus/usb-serial/drivers/option1/new_id
$ cat /dev/ttyUSB0 &

The first thing to check is the output of the AT+CGDCONT=? command, a 3GPP-standardised command which returns the supported data types:

$ echo $'AT+CGDCONT=?\r' > /dev/ttyUSB0
+CGDCONT: (0-11),"IP",,,(0-2),(0-3),(0,1),(0,1),(0-2),(0,1)

OK

This is a smoking gun: there should have been two more lines returned here, one with "IPV6" and another with "IPV4V6" in the second comma-separated field. This output is essentially the modem stating «I only support IPv4».

Huawei has published an extensive document that details all the various AT commands supported by the modem. One of these is AT^IPV6CAP, a Huawei proprietary command to «Query IPv6 Capability» (see page 281). The possible return codes and their meanings are documented as follows:

1 IPv4 only
2 IPv6 only
7 IPv4 only, IPv6 only and IPv4v6

So let’s see what it says:

$ echo $'AT^IPV6CAP?\r' > /dev/ttyUSB0
^IPV6CAP: 1

OK

This appears to confirm what the AT+CGDCONT=? command already told us, the modem is IPv4-only. However, the AT^IPV6CAP=? command did give me a little bit of hope:

$ echo $'AT^IPV6CAP=?\r' > /dev/ttyUSB0
^IPV6CAP: (1,2,7)

OK

I interpret this to mean that the modem actually does contain support for IPv6 and IPv4v6; only that it is currently in an IPv4-only operational mode. The question then becomes: how to change the operational mode to 7? I have no idea, unfortunately. It’s not AT^IPV6CAP=7, for what it’s worth.

I eventually had to give up on making IPv6 work with this modem. Perhaps it will be fixed in a future firmware update, but until then my recommendation is clear: stay away from the Huawei ME906s-158 / HP lt4132 LTE modem!

Support tickets were opened with both HP and Huawei support about the issue, by the way. Despite several rounds of escalating their respective cases, none of them were able to figure out a solution. HP support eventually gave up on solving the case and shipped me a replacement HP lt4120 free of charge instead. That did the trick; it turns out the lt4120 supports IPv6 perfectly. I’ll have to commend HP for good customer support here; they obviously considered the lack of IPv6 support to be a real defect and did what was necessary to fix the problem in the most efficient manner.