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Communicate with a mobile phone connected to your computer.

Project Description

Communicate with a mobile phone connected to your computer.

Phebe contains a command shell that performs common tasks on a phone connected to your computer: get usage stats, back-up the phonebook and contacts, as well as download and delete short messages. Communication is done through AT commands as specified by Sony-Ericsson.

This package requires Python 2.5 or newer.

The command shell


The phebe shell needs to be told the device node that represents the phone to the operating system, and the BAUD rate the phone communicates at. These may be given in an ini-style configuration file, either system-wide at /etc/pheberc or in the user’s home directory at ~/.pheberc, or as command line options.

Command line options override configuration files, and ~/.pheberc overrides /etc/pheberc. If any of device node and baud rate is not specified in one of the configuration files, it must be given on the command line. No useful default values are provided for these two settings.

Another option is the default national phone number prefix. This allows dealing with numbers that sometimes appear in national format and sometimes in international format, e.g. when looking up short message addresses in the phonebook. This option is not required.

A sample configuration file might look like this:


# Germany

The corresponding command line options are defined as follows:

--help, -h show this help message and exit
--device=DEVICE, -d DEVICE
 the device node
--baud-rate=BAUD_RATE, -b BAUD_RATE
 the BAUD rate
--prefix=PREFIX, -p PREFIX
 the default national phone number prefix

The information from the above configuration file might be specified in terms of command line options like this:

$ phebe --device=/dev/ttyACM0 --baud-rate=9600 --prefix=49


The following is a short description of what the commands provided by the phebe shell do and what their arguments mean.

Talk to your phone by issuing AT commands at a prompt and receiving the raw textual response from the device.
Prints a summary of how much of your phone’s resources are used. This currently includes the used vs total number of entries in each of the phonebooks and SMS storages.
Prints the total number of stored short messages per contact (received plus sent).
Lists all entries from the phonebook storages named as command arguments, in the order they are indexed by the phone. Without arguments, lists the “ME” storage.
Lists entries grouped by contact, per storage. The output format is roughly ini-style.

Lists short messages from the “ME” SMS storage.

Arguments may be either storage indexes or index ranges (such as “14-23”) of single messages to list. Without arguments, all messages are listed. If non-existent indexes are given explicitly or included in ranges given, they will be ignored.


Lists short messages from the “ME” SMS storage grouped into conversations with your contacts.

Arguments may be partial names; conversations with any matching contacts are listed. Without arguments, all conversations are listed. If a sender or recipient number cannot be resolved into a contact name using the phonebook, the number itself is used for the grouping.


Deletes short messages from your phone’s “ME” SMS storage.

Command arguments are the same as for the messages command. Messages to be deleted will be listed first and deletion is guarded by a safety query.


Deletes short messages belonging to conversations with your contacts from your phone’s “ME” SMS storage.

Command arguments are the same as for the conversations command. Messages to be deleted will be listed first and deletion is guarded by a safety query.

The phonebook, contacts, messages and conversations commands send their output to the default pager for convenient browsing. You can redirect the output to a file instead using the > operator known from system shells. To send a phonebook dump to a file instead of paging through it, for example, say:

(Cmd) phonebook > /tmp/phonebook.backup

The Phebe API

This section contains an overview of Phebe’s concepts and package structure.

The connection

Phebe talks to a mobile phone by sending AT commands to a device node and reading a textual response from it, which may or may not signal an error.

The connection object encapsulates device-level communication with the phone. It is the only object which cares about the device node name and the BAUD rate. To the rest of the application, it is a callable that takes an AT command string as a parameter and either returns a sequence of respose lines or raises an exception. It does not maintain any state.


Each functionality of the phone, such as phonebook or SMS management, has its own group of AT commands with specified parameters and result formats.

A protocol is an object whose interface to the rest of the application reflects the actions related to a specific functionality. These actions directly correspond to what is implemented by the phone as AT commands. Protocols use the connection object to send AT commands with appropriately formatted parameters, receive and interpret the response, and return plain Python data structures holding the received information. They don’t maintain any state, either.


As opposed to the stateless, action-related protocols, proxies represent particular aspects of the phone’s functionality and state to the application.

A proxy employs a protocol object and exposes an interface that is defined by the demands of the functionality modelled. Proxies are stateful; their state represents the information stored on and the current state of the phone. They may need to be explicitly synchronized against the phone. Modifying a proxy’s state immediately modifies the information stored in or the state of the phone. It is probably a good idea to use at most one proxy per phone for any given functionality at a time.

Application objects

Application objects are Phebe’s highest-level objects representing the phone. They combine various functionalities independent of the command specification.

Application objects expose whatever interface fits their purpose. They define and use Phebe-specific data structures. Each application object may make use of any number of different proxies simultaneously. Manipulating an application object’s state should not directly affect the phone; the phone should rathter be modified explicitly through methods. This is so that application objects may be used more freely.

Package structure

The phebe package contains three subpackages and a number of modules, all of them described in the following.

the fundamental Connection class and the ATError exception
the RangeList data type used for specifying message index ranges
parsing responses to AT commands
handling PDUs encoded with the GSM alphabet and 7-bit packed
a phone number implementation aware of number types and numbering plans
data structures for various SMS types as defined by the GSM standards
the phebe command shell and its egg entry point


access to the phonebook
access to the SMS storages


proxy representing the phone’s phonebook
proxy representing the phone as an SMS mobile station

manage any contact information stored on the phone
manage any messaging done through the phone using contacts


The implementation follows the Sony-Ericsson developer guidelines for using AT commands as of December 7, 2006, see <>. It has been tested only on a SE K750i, using Debian and Gentoo Linux distributions with a 2.6 kernel so far.

The current status of Phebe is “works for me”, i.e. it provides the functionality the author immediately needs: get usage stats of the phone, back-up the phonebook, dump and delete short messages. See ROADMAP.txt and TODO.txt for prospective further developments.

While neither talking through the AT command interface nor the higher-level data structures implemented by Phebe are operating system specific, communication with the device is. Phebe currently does this by using a Python module only available on Unix. The author is not going to port Phebe to non-Unix systems any time soon, so if you want it to support your OS, you have to supply an appropriate patch.


Phebe is written by Thomas Lotze. Please contact the author at <> to provide feedback or suggestions on or contributions to Phebe.

See also <>.

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