Snow Leopard users, beware T-Mobile USB sticks!

I was attracted by T-Mobile’s new £15/month offer (first three months £10) with the new Mobile Broadband USB Stick 620 (capable of HSDPA 7.2). The box clearly states “Mac OS X v10.4.x or above”. However, when I installed the supplied software on my nice new Macbook Pro (which came with Snow Leopard, that is v10.6, installed) my system was rendered unusable on the next reboot. I am extremely grateful to David Glover for his workaround.

To get my machine back I had to …

1) boot in firewire target mode (hold down T while powering up)
2) attach to another Mac using a firewire cable
3) download the libcurl.4.dylib archive from David Glover’s post
4) install the above file in usr/lib/libcurl.4.dylib on the target machine
5) unmount the target machine
6) boot the target machine normally (it works)

But to get the T-Mobile broadband to work again I had to …

1) save a copy of the “good” libcurl.4.dylib
2) run /Applications/T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Manager/Uninstall_T-Mobile Mobile Broadband
3) insert the USB stick
4) run the installer from there (I had previously used the CDROM that came with the stick)
5) copy the “good” libcurl.4.dylib back into /usr/lib
6) restart T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Manager

I have a call outstanding with T-Mobile (who were unaware of the problem), and will post an update as and when the fix the problem. It is astonishing that third party software should overwrite vital system files! As of now I don’t know what else they’ve broken, although I was alarmed to find other files in /usr/lib with the same timestamp …

$ ls -l /usr/lib/ | grep Feb
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    163616 27 Feb  2009 bkLib.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    179412 27 Feb  2009 libAgent.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    208640 27 Feb  2009 libTinyXml.dylib
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff    522284 27 Feb  2009 libcurl.4.dylib.broken
-rwxr-xr-x    1 pgdh  staff     25464 27 Feb  2009 libmd5.dylib

More news as it happens.


  1. Larry W. says:

    Cripes! What other popular commercial operating system do you think they’ve had to deal with in the past to learn *that* behavior?

  2. vratko says:

    Thanks. You saved my day…

  3. […] overwrites core library files is simply unforgivable. To make matters worse, Phil Harman reckons T-Mobile aren’t even aware this problem exists… almost two months after Snow Leopard was […]

  4. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  5. Scott says:

    I think T-Mobile are being less than honest about not knowing about this issue. A certain electrical retail giant was busy sending around an internal memo (at launch) that warned sales colleagues not to sell mobile broadband dongles with machines running OS X 10.6 because of compatibility issues arising from changes to the kernel. The same retailer still ships the Snow Leopard machines with 10.5.6 installed instead and the upgrade discs left in the box.

  6. Michael says:

    I’ve just had my shiny new iMac rendered inoperable by T-Mobile’s driver. Fortunately I’ve managed to repair it by reinstalling Snow Leopard (and the dongle still works after the reinstall).

    It’s disgraceful that T-Mobile (who MUST know about this issue) continue to distribute this driver with their dongles which I bought new only yesterday. Frankly I’m speechless, what a disgrace, how many hours of inconvenience must this have caused??!!!

  7. Andy says:

    My 24″ iMac wont boot at all after installing the dongle software. Cant enter safe mode or do anything. Off to get this fix done tomorrow.

    Given T-Mobile says compatible with 10.4x or above, and given that is not true and has resulted in damage (that will cost to repair) surely they should pay the cost of getting it fixed. I will see what they say.

  8. Martin says:

    I have the 120 dongle; it doesn’t work with Snow Leopard…

    maybe it does… but i cannot get it to work with mine.

    I fear I may have to downgrade to Leopard. Which i’d hate to do; but i need to get my £15 a month of mobile broadband internet really…

  9. Carl says:

    I’ve been using the previous Huwaei 160 stick with Snow Leopard but I had to download drivers from the Austrian T-Mobile site. T-Mobile UK were utterly useless at the time.

    This discussion is interesting and disturbing; I hadn’t realised that T-Mobile’s installer was overwriting system shared libraries. I don’t expect or appreciate this kind of thing, and I’ll definitely treat their installers as untrusted from now on, doing before/after filesystem checks and replacing any over-written standard shared libraries with the proper ones – I’m not having T-Mobile (or anyone else) replacing my libs with either old versions, wrong versions or hacked/trojan versions or whatever the hell they think they’re doing.

    Once you’ve gone to the trouble of persuading them to remove their ridiculous “content lock”, the service (and dongle) does seem to represent good value (and works well), but their attitude sucks.

    Note for people who travel: These cheap dongles are subsidy-locked to T-Mobile. You can unlock them, but do so before travelling. I went into a T-Mobile shop in Germany and asked for a German T-Mobile 3G sim to use with my UK, locked-to-T-Mobile dongle and they said it would cost 80 euros, whereas a 3G-capable chainstore SIM cost me 10 euros with 10 euros credit, but of course couldn’t be used in the locked stick, I had to use a regular (unlocked) phone, and my phone isn’t 3G… I later found out that even a T-Mobile SIM won’t work in a UK locked dongle if it’s not a UK SIM.

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