Rooting an android phone allows one to use several methods of tethering (using the phone’s internet on another device) including USB, bluetooth and wifi.
I have only tried wifi tethering and USB tethering so far but I imagine I will get round to trying bluetooth sometime.
Wifi tethering is simple, if your phone is rooted then you can simply get android-wifi-tether , open the application and touch the icon in the centre of the screen, this will create a wireless access point which you can then connect to with your laptop. I had no problems at all with this using Debian lenny. There are various options for access control and encryption and it works fairly well. The main downside to this method is that it uses a horrific amount of power, meaning I usually need my phone plugged in anyway.
USB tethering is provided with CyanogenMod and many other popular roms and is in most respects better than wifi tethering if you have a USB cable. To start tethering just turn on USB tethering in Settings > Wireless controls > Internet tethering. Connect the laptop via USB cable and depending on what OS you are using it may just work or it may take some setup.
I haven’t tried Windows XP but I believe that you can just install either the android SDK or a separate RNDIS driver, apparently later versions of windows come with this.
I have heard many people say that it just works with Ubuntu, however with Debian I couldn’t find any packaged drivers but found that the RNDIS drivers from SynCE worked fine
tar -xvzf usb-rndis-lite-0.11.tar.gz cd usb-rndis-lite-0.11/ make sudo ./clean.sh sudo make install
I found that network-manager picked it up immediately, though if you don’t use network-manager you may need to do:
I’m looking forward to trying this out for a longer duration on my 7 hour train trip back to Warwick on Wednesday.