HOWTO: Install Mobile Hotspot on a non-Verizon Palm Pre

(Adapted from http://forums.precentral.net/web-os-development/239471-how-install-mobile-hotspot-1-4-1-1-sprint-pre.html)

Disclaimer:
Installing and/or using Mobile Hotspot and other tethering methods may violate your wireless contract’s terms of service, and possibly the device warranty as well. You do so at your own risk. In the highly unlikely event that you damage your phone beyond recovery, I am not responsible.

That said, the process is actually pretty simple, and you don’t have a lot of reason to be afraid. If you screw your phone up, Palm provides a tool to recover it called WebOS Doctor which will reset and re-install the software on your phone back to new. Tethering really isn’t a problem either, just as long as you use it within reason and stay under the radar. Most providers don’t pay much attention to your traffic until you consume more than 5GB in a month on your 3G connection. There’s a homebrew utility for the Pre called Netstat that will help you keep an eye on this. Don’t do something stupid like download a bunch of large files as this will probably throw up red flags at your carrier. If you just use Hotspot for web browsing a few times a month for a few hours at a shot, you probably have little to nothing to be concerned about. And, if you follow these instructions, you should have no problem installing and using Hotspot, even if you’ve never done something like this before.

There are the several basic (but detailed) steps involved:

– Turn on developer mode on your Pre
From the main screen, as if you a searching for an application, type:
webos20090606
A hidden application named “Developer Mode Enabler” will show up. Tap it. When the application opens, flip the mode switch to “On”. It will then ask you to restart. Go ahead and restart.

– Obtain and Install WebOS Quick Install
Download WebOS Quick Install from the PreCentral forums. Once you’ve downloaded it, double-click on the file to run it. If in the unlikely event it doesn’t run, you may need to download and install Java. When it first runs, it will ask you to download the WebOS Doctor for your carrier and phone. Just select your option, and proceed. When it’s finished downloading, WebOS Quick Install will finish starting up. Now, with the USB cable that came with your phone, connect your phone to your computer. If windows indicates that it is installing new software, wait until it completes before proceeding. Now go to the Tools menu and select Device Management. After a pause of about 10-20 seconds, you should see a windows showing you details about your Pre. If you don’t see this window, you may need to re-install the phone driver. Only in this case, go to the File menu, select Options, and click “Attempt Novacom re-installation”. After this completes, unplug the USB cable and plug it back in to re-detect the phone.

– Install Preware
Close the Device Management window. Now that you are back on the main screen, click the blue down arrow. When the IPKG Repository Viewer opens, drop down the top combo box and select WebOS-Internals Feed (Pre). Then check the box in the list below next to Preware, and click Download. When it is finished downloading, click Close. Finally, click Install. When the installer finishes, you may proceed.

– Download and Install the FreeTetherd and and Mobile Hotspot ipk files
Download the FreeTetherd and Mobile Hostspot ipk files from the PreCentral forums. You may need to register to download, but registration is free. Once downloaded, drag the files into the WebOS Quick Install window and click Install. Congratulations! Mobile Hotspot is installed and ready to be used!

– Configure Mobile Hostspot
When you first start Mobile Hotspot, it will welcome you with the usual statement about needing a plan from your carrier to support it. Refer to the statements made above, and feel free to continue. By default, the phone will automatically name the wireless network something like “webOS Network 3F:2E:1D”. You may click on the name and rename it whatever you wish, such as “Palm Pre Hotspot”, or you can leave it be as is. Tap Change Passphrase and enter your desired wireless password. This is the password that will keep others from using your hotspot, and allow you to connect to it with your laptop or other WiFi device. When you have clicked done, you are done configuring!

– Connect to your Hotspot!
When you are ready to use your hotspot feature, simply tap the “Off” switch to flip it on. Then just connect to your wireless network with your laptop and enter the password you previously specified. Once it connects, you’re ready to surf! Note that while the Hotspot is running, you can still multitask on your Pre (Listen to music, browse the web, check email, etc.). When you are finished using the Hotspot feature, turn it back off to conserve battery and restore the normal WiFi client connectivity. I should also mention that on non-GSM carriers (such as Verizon and Sprint), when a phone call is placed or received, it will pause your internet connection until the phone call is ended.

– (Optional) Install Netstat

On your phone, you now have an application installed called Preware. This application opens up a whole world of free modifications (patches) and homebrew software for your Pre that isn’t otherwise available in the App Catalog. In this case, we’re going to install Netstat, which allows you to tally up your data usage over the period of a month. This should help you keep an eye on how hard you are on your data plan. To install, launch Preware. After it has finished starting up, just start typing “netstat” and hit enter. Tap “Netstat” and then tap Install. If it asks you to install dependencies, proceed. When it has finished installing, you will probably be asked to restart Luna. Proceed with the restart. When the Pre interface comes back, launch Netstat. You will then see 3 counters: The first is WiFi, which is irrelevant our concern, then 3G/Wireless (looks like a pole with radiating blue lines) which is what we want to watch, and lastly Bluetooth which is irrelevant. As you use your Pre on a daily basis, and as a hotspot, your 3G usages will increase. After a month has passed, you can click on this value to see your historical usage. Make sure you don’t exceed or even come too close to 5Gig or your carrier might have a fit and give you an uncomfortable call.

Lastly, if you ever wish to return your phone, or bring your phone in because of problems following this, I would highly recommend using WebOS doctor to restore your phone to factory default software first. Nobody at your local wireless store likes to hear about device problems potentially created by unsupported software.

So there you have it! Painless, eh?

2 thoughts on “HOWTO: Install Mobile Hotspot on a non-Verizon Palm Pre”

  1. I am having some troubles…I have the mobile hotspot app installed, but it always says “turning on mobile hotspot” and my laptop can never find the hotspot. Any suggestions?

  2. I’m not sure what could be the problem there. I suppose a full reboot of the phone might help that. Just hold down the power key for a few seconds, then select reboot.