My Orange 3G mobile broadband USB modem won't operate properly with gnome-ppp because it doesn't use a real username or password and needs more customised chatscript support than gnome-ppp appears to be able to support.
I stopped using network-manager-gnome and started using wicd instead due to problems with nm-applet at that time, which doesn't see the USB modem (and doesn't drop wlan0 for it either). I'm not sure if nm-applet would now work with the USB modem.
I've got the modem working with sudo pon orange but I wanted a GUI.
Instead - and, frankly, just as an experiment to get used to auto-detecting things - I decided to write a little program that puts a status icon in place if HAL reports no modem capability, then raises a simple window to manage the connection when the modem becomes available. (I had a shell script using zenity that was almost good enough but without automated launch.)
The window is trivially simple, it just lists the available connections in /etc/ppp/peers and has a toggle button to connect or disconnect the selected connection. Almost no error checking, no configuration support for the pon scripts themselves. I might add a default connection using gconf later. Yes, I know it's HAL but PolicyKit/DeviceKit just seemed too complicated when it was simpler to use libhal's own dbus support.
I'm happy to just use this for me but if anyone else is interested in this kind of app, I might be persuaded to put the source code somewhere public and continue development with a view to uploading to Debian. Naturally, if gnome-ppp or wicd could be adapted to replace it, that would be good too. (I'll file wishlist bugs if it isn't just me who wants this - I only need this functionality for a few months and a quick and dirty version is enough just for me. By the time the bugs are fixed, I probably won't be using mobile broadband any more.)
Yes, I know HAL is deprecated but libhal 'justworks', policykit does not and I only need this functionality for a few months - unless someone expresses an interest in the package, at which point things like that can be considered.
Other distributions are also irrelevant unless someone expresses an interest in developing this code. HAL is not going to be removed from Debian within the time that I need this code.