How To Send Text Messages On Linux With Modem Manager GUI [Guide]

If you need to send text messages on Linux you can do it with the Modem Manager GUI tool. With it, users can send SMS messages, get network information, and even buy airtime from their network within the app itself.

Note: before getting started with this app, ensure that your Linux PC has a built-in SIM card tray. Alternatively, purchase a Linux-compatible USB SIM card reader.

To use Modem Manager GUI on Linux, you need to be using Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora or OpenSUSE.

Install Modem Manager GUI

Modem Manager GUI is quite popular, and one of the most reliable mobile broadband apps for Linux. As a result, many mainstream Linux distributions compile and distribute installable binary packages. To install this program on your Linux distribution of choice, open up a terminal window and enter the following command based on your Linux distribution.

Note: can’t find your operating system in the list? Consider building Modem Manager GUI from source instead.


sudo apt install modem-manager-gui


sudo apt-get install modem-manager-gui

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S modem-manager-gui


sudo dnf install modem-manager-gui


sudo zypper in modem-manager-gui

Building From Source

Building Modem Manager GUI on Linux starts by installing the latest version of Mercurial. Search your Linux distribution’s software repository for “mercurial”, and install it. Be sure to also install “meson”, as it’s required to build the software.

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Next, open up a terminal window and use the Mercurial HG command to download the latest version of the source code.

hg clone

Use the CD command to move into the source code directory. From there, run the “configure” script. This script will scan your Linux PC and let you know if you need to install anything else before Modem Manager GUI installs.

cd modem-manager-gui  meson build

Running the “meson build” command should only present errors if you are missing dependencies. Read the errors and install what it asks for. When everything is taken care of, run the command again till there aren’t any errors. When everything is ready to go, start the building process.

cd build  ninja  sudo ninja install

Using Modem Manager GUI

Despite the name, Modem Manager GUI isn’t for managing your cable or dial-up modem on Linux. Instead, it’s an app that lets you send text messages on Linux. Users can connect SIM cards, send text messages, the works.

Note: ensure that your SIM card has airtime and a positive balance or it will not work.

Before opening the app, be sure that your SIM card is connected to your Linux PC. After plugging in the SIM, go ahead and launch Modem Manager GUI. If your SIM card is added correctly, you’ll see it under the “Devices” section of the app.

Click the “Scan” button, scan for a network supported by your SIM and click on it to connect. Confirm the connection by clicking the “Info” button. Look at the network information listed and ensure that you are connected to a network.

Adding Contacts

Communicating with Modem Manager GUI is much easier if you have contacts added to the app. To add contacts, click on the “Contacts” button at the far right of the menu. After that, look for the button that says “New Contact” and selects it.

Using the contact creator window, add information relating to your new contact, click “OK” to save it.

Buying Airtime

Need to buy some Airtime for your SIM card? It’s possible to do this right within the Modem Manager GUI, using some codes. First, click on the “USSD” button in Modem Manager GUI. From there, enter the correct USSD code (this may require a bit of Googling) to access the Airtime menu.

Note: your service provider may not support refilling your plan in this way. For best results, consult with your Mobile SIM carrier’s website.

Follow the on-screen prompts and use the keyboard to purchase your Airtime.

Sending Texts

By far the most useful feature for Modem Manager GUI is its ability to directly interact with an active SIM card and act as a cell phone to send SMS messages. To send messages, first, confirm the SIM card is connected to the network by clicking on the “Info” button. It’s always good to check this, so you don’t waste effort writing out SMS messages that won’t send.

Select the “SMS” button to access the message area. From here, click “New” to create a new text to send.

Enter the phone number of the person you’re trying to text. Alternatively, click on “Contacts”, select the number, and then click “Send SMS”.

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