Ok, after bashing my head against the wall for too long, I finally resolved most of my problems. My box dual-boots into Windows, so I debugged the problem in Windows first, because of the proliferation of data in Google on it. There can be lots of causes that produce the same error, unrecognized MTP device, so I am posting my condensed trouble-shooting cookbook here:
For Windows Users:
- Put the device in "Kies" or "Media Player" mode, which makes the device appear as an MTP (Windows proprietary combo, media device). Then plug it in and wait up to 1 minute. It takes longer than usual to discover this device versus a USB Mass Storage device (flash card).
- If that fails, try using a USB port on the back. These often have better voltage supply and signal integrity than the front panel or other expansion ports.
- If that fails, consider trying a powered (with external power plug) USB hub, again plugged into the back. Maybe your device is not getting enough power? It happens...
- If that fails, in the "Device Manager", uninstall all the USB devices, hubs, Samsung USB Modems (under modems), composite USB devices, and MTP devices (under portable devices). Reboot your computer and phone. (It's Windows - enough said.) Plug your phone back in, after Windows as finished rebooting and rerecognized all the devices.
- If that fails, install the Samsung USB Modem drivers. You may have to try step #4 again.
- Then, try installing Samsung's Kies player. You may have to do step #4 again.
- If that fails, try exploring (and forcing) the underlying driver choices in the Device manager. In other words, force MTP, Samsung, etc by using "Update driver" or "Add Hardware" wizards. On occasion, Windows picks the wrong driver... You will have to try step #4 again.
- MTP is built into Windows Media Player, so trying install Windows Media Player again. It gets corrupted on occasion. (Try #4 again.)
- Make sure all your Windows software is up to date (no old drivers, latest .NET stuff, etc.)
- Try installing the latest version of your motherboard's (manufacture's) chipset drivers (for USB hosts) again.
My problem was resolved after step #10!
Once I knew the phone was fine and the problem was software related, I renewed my Linux efforts:
For Linux Users:
- Make sure you are using a good cable plugged into a good port, just like Windows users.
- Use the "Mass Storage" USB mode on the phone.
- Don't forget to actually "Mount" the card in the phone's drop down.
- Make sure you have at least thes necessary kernel modules:
Device Drivers ---> SCSI device suport -->
- legacy /proc/scsi/ support
<*> SCSI disk support
<*> SCSI generic support
<*> SCSI media changer support
- Probe all LUNs on each SCSI device (*critical*)
Device Drivers ---> USB support --->
most of the EHCI, OHCI, and UHCI stuff - built-in, where possible
- If you are missing modules, then rebuild the kernel, reboot, and try again.
If only one device is detected, then the problem is that you are not probing all the LUNs (devices inside the phone). The first one is the empty card slot, which is why nothing pops up (I am guessing). Anyway, once I started probing for all the LUNs, now I see this:
Aug 31 11:22:11 [kernel] usb 2-4: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 5
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] usb 2-4: New USB device found, idVendor=04e8, idProduct=681d
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] usb 2-4: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] usb 2-4: Product: SAMSUNG_Android
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] usb 2-4: Manufacturer: SAMSUNG
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] usb 2-4: SerialNumber: blah-blah
Aug 31 11:22:12 [kernel] scsi6 : usb-storage 2-4:2.0
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] scsi 6:0:0:0: Direct-Access SAMSUNG SGH-I897 Card 0000 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg3 type 0
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] scsi 6:0:0:1: Direct-Access SAMSUNG SGH-I897 0000 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:1: Attached scsi generic sg4 type 0
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:0: [sdc] Attached SCSI removable disk
Aug 31 11:22:13 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:1: [sdd] Attached SCSI removable disk
Aug 31 11:22:29 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:1: [sdd] 27328448 512-byte logical blocks: (13.9 GB/13.0 GiB)
Aug 31 11:22:29 [kernel] sd 6:0:0:1: [sdd] Assuming drive cache: write through
- Last output repeated twice -
Aug 31 11:22:29 [kernel] sdd:
Aug 31 11:22:36 [hald] mounted /dev/sdd on behalf of uid XXXX
And, now my automounter pops up, just as you would expect.
Now, my only remaining problem is finding an audio player that can sync my stuff to the phone. SongBird has all my ratings and playlists, but for some reason, it can't see the phone. I guess that's another thread...
Thanks to all for the suggestions.
Additional, useful links I found: