Unlocking the Huawei E172 on Linux

Update, September 2016:
This post has been slightly shortened. I would also like to add that it’s over five years old now and newer dongles probably use less braindead SIM lock systems.

Before going through this procedure:
See Neil McPhail’s unlocker script and/or this slightly friendlier guide.

Step one: get your unlock code.

Find your modem’s 15-digit IMEI, open up a terminal, run python and copy-paste the following code:

import hashlib
def get_code (input):
  for i in range(0,4):
    code += (ord(digest[i])^ord(digest[4+i])^ord(digest[8+i])^ord(digest[12+i])) << (3-i)*8
  code &= 0x1ffffff
  code |= 0x2000000
  return code

Hit Enter twice after pasting. Next, type in the following, replacing the example IMEI with your own:


Hit Enter and you’ll get your 8-digit unlock code. For my example IMEI, the code would be 47412550.

Step two: find your dongle’s control channel.

Open a terminal and become superuser (sudo -i or su). Try cat /dev/ttyUSB0, cat /dev/ttyUSB1 and so on, until you get a continuous output that looks like this:


Note that the DSFLOWRPT messages will only appear when the dongle is actually connected. If it isn’t connected, you’ll probably get BOOT messages instead. If you’re getting no output, hit Control-C and try again with the next ttyUSB. If you run out of ttyUSBs to try, I don’t know what to say.

Step three: send the unlock command.

If you do get output, don’t hit Control-C or close the terminal. Instead, open another terminal window and copy-paste this command, replacing 47412550 with the unlock code you got in the previous step and /dev/ttyUSB1 with the control channel you just found out:

chat TIMEOUT 1 '' 'AT^CARDLOCK="47412550"' 'OK' > /dev/ttyUSB1

You should see OK on the other terminal window. I also got a +CME error: operation not allowed error, but it didn’t seem to be a problem.

If you get something like +CME error 3, though, that means something has gone wrong at some point. Maybe look for another guide?

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10 Responses to Unlocking the Huawei E172 on Linux

  1. Pingback: Wuawei e172 | Challengedsing

  2. Neil McPhail says:

    Thanks for this guide, Andy. It helped me unlock my E173 painlessly on Linux without resorting to windows. I’ve stuck a script on GitHub which automates the process. I hope your readers will find it helpful.


  3. Linux Loonie says:

    Tried it with a Huawei E220 but it didn’t work,

  4. ronald says:

    Hello, I’m Ronald in France, I have a Hawei E172 on SFR-provider.
    I suit your method and I have a good result. Thank-You Andy !
    (Search good CODE with IMEI
    (stop Huawei modem.
    ( cat /dev/ttyUSB1 = ^BOOT ….
    ( minicom -f
    ( modif. serial port -> ttyUSB1 +return +esc
    (AT^CARDLOCK=”…myCode..” +return
    (> ok (no more message)


  5. frank says:

    hi, i tried it with Huewei E173 from Austria an i got
    “bash: /dev/ttyUSB2: Device or resource busy” with the command “sudo chat TIMEOUT 1 ” ‘AT^CARDLOCK=”59560428″‘ ‘OK’ > /dev/ttyUSB2″.
    With “sudo cat /dev/ttyUSB2” I got output in the other terminal window.
    Do you have any ideas?

  6. Pingback: Unlock your Huawei E160

  7. stickboy11 says:

    Glad I found this, your method of figuring out which tty to use is quite helpful. I usually just guess, and in minicom that’s kinda a pain in the ass. Cheers!

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