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I have moved to a country where Internet is very restricted and where I live I'm only allowed to have one computer online, and data for my smartphone is extremely expensive. I would however like to get my smartphone online so I can upload pictures from it and download some podcasts.

What is the best way to turn my ubuntu laptop which is wired to the network into a wireless router my phone can connect to? There are a lot of tutorials out there but they are all outdated.

Also - my phone does not support ad hoc networks, so it needs to be a "real" wireless network

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Essentially you want to turn your (Ubuntu) Linux laptop into an access point router. This may not always possible given the type of wireless chipset in your laptop. See (The site pointed out by chunkyb2002 focuses around providing routing services using physical media, i.e., multiple ethernet)

Anyway, a stupid question, but have you've already considered purchasing a normal wifi router and plugging it directly into your incoming internet connection?

If you have ruled this out, was it because your ISP restricts connection by MAC address? .. Most entry-level routers (Linksys/Cisco I know can) allow you emulate an existing MAC address to fool ISPs into providing a connection. Simply configure it to the same MAC address of your laptop, then your ISP will think its your laptop connecting, and be completely unaware of the NAT-hidden clients behind the router.

Let's say for whatever reason this too isn't possible. You could purchase a secondary USB/ethernet adapter and plug that into the aformentioned wireless router's WAN connection, and then follow the directions provided by chunkyb2002. This does over-complicate the solution though, as you'd be adding NAT unnecessarily between the linux host and your smartphone through the router (the later would be able to access the former directly, but not vice versa.)

Finally, as a last resort, most smartphones do support Bluetooth. Ubuntu would support sharing a bluetooth connection as a network interface. Even if your laptop lacks bluetooth support, there are many bluetooth usb adapters available, but stay away from D-Link due to proprietary firmware ;)

Good luck!

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Thank you. I do need to use my laptop as a "first device" since I in addition to a very specific network setup also needs to authenticate on an internal website every day. Also, this allows me to run a VPN connection against my own (unblocked) VPN server. Your Bluetooth solution sounds interesting, I didn't think of that, but will it allow my to have transparent internet access on my phone or just transfer data back and forth? I can already do that with my USB cable. My wireless card should be good, it uses ath9k driver. – Markus Oct 23 '11 at 12:36
If your phone supports the correct bluetooth PAN (personal area network) profile, it should connect to your laptop. However, now that I think about it, most smartphones are designed to act as a server to a PAN and provide a connection, not a client (which is what you want). – adamrmcd Oct 23 '11 at 16:32
Given your situation, if you MUST authenticate to a web site to get outbound access, maybe installing a secondary ethernet-via-USB, following the setup ubuntu as a router advice, and connecting it to the WAN port of a wifi router would be best solution for your smartphone, if not overly convoluted ;) – adamrmcd Oct 23 '11 at 16:32

There are a number of ways to achieve this, the best place to start is to have a look at the Ubuntu documentation on the subject at

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Thank you, but as adamrmcd says this is more wired NAT'ing. I've tried it but it turns out it's not possible to just exchange eth0 with wlan0. And the small section on wirless configuration doesn't seem to work for me :( – Markus Oct 23 '11 at 12:38

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