Help me network computers?

Ok, I bought a laptop yesterday from (save your comments.) However, I need to know how to network this sucker. We have a “2Wire” (brand name) dsl modem, and perhaps router, (I don’t know) and I know (think) I’ll have to buy a wireless router and network card.

Our router.

Would it be possible for me to buy just the network card for my laptop? I’m trying to spend as little money as possible…

That HomePortal thingy is, in fact, a router. (“Gateway” is the same thing, for this purpose). In fact, it says it’s got wireless (that’s 802.11b). So it’s ready to go.

All you need is a wireless card for the laptop (assuming it doesn’t have 802.11b wireless networking built in – lots of them do these days), and a net guy to set it up for you.

PROBABLY, you can just install the wireless card in the laptop, set it to “Get an IP Address automatically”, and you’ll be working. Unfortunately, if it doesn’t work, it will take some knowlege to set up, so you’ll need to find, rent, or kidnap a local networking guru.

any vaguely new laptop(within the last 5 years) should have a network card built in. Just plug the network cable into the card and the router and, if all goes well, you should be online.

If you don’t care about security, then yes, you ought to be able to boot up the laptop and have it find your DSL connection. Windows XP is remarkably able to find unsecured wireless connections and hook right up.

I strongly urge you to dig up the instructions for the 2wire and find out how to enable WEP (or WPA, if available), change the administrator password on the 2wire, change the SSID from its default and disable SSID broadcast. Doing all of this will go great lengths to keep your neighbors from freeloading on your DSL connection and to keep any malicious types out of your computer.

Spoken like someone living in San Francisco :slight_smile: .

I was assuming he didn’t have the manuals - the Cable/DSL people often don’t provide them to prevent people from messing with the hardware or adding multiple computers without paying for a service you don’t actually need.

Seriously, though, while gotpasswords is right in principle, whether this stuff matters to you depends on your neighbors and location – the range of an 802.11b router is only about 100 feet, so unless you’re in a tech hub, it might not matter. Also, for the record the WEP security protocol was broken even before the first products with it appeared, so if you have tech-savvy neighbors, it’s only providing the illusion of security, anyway.

If you DO have the manuals, I’d at least change the admin password, and probably do everything gotpasswords suggested. But unless you live in a large city or tech hub, I wouldn’t worry about wardrivers (drive-by hacking) very much, and if you’re rural, not at all. Since that router’s acting as a firewall, you’re safe from the far more common remote attacks.

However, please keep the computer up to date using Windows Update (it’s on your start menu). It’s an excellent backup line of defense. And anyone who’s NOT using a router and not doing the updates is almost certainly relaying spam and porn by now. These are the far more widespread attacks that you need to worry about.

Thanks everyone, I actually asked someone else because I didn’t see that there were replies to this :o. Thanks for you help, though.

And really??? Only 100 feet? :eek: I may have to buy a new router then… one with longer range :frowning:

A router with longer range? Eh, not really.

The basic options are to put higher-gain antennas on the equipment, and to use a repeater. Depending on the connector (there are two or three varieties used on Wi-Fi gear) you can get various high-gain antennas that replace what the unit came with. Radio Shack has a pair of omnidirectionals for about $30. Hawking produces directional ones - rather than broadcasting to 360 degrees around, they aim all the power in one direction. I’ve got one of these that has a roughly 45 degree coverage, and it cost around $50. Downside to add-on antennas is that very few laptops or their plug-in cards are capable of using external antennas. You’ll also be technically (but reversably) voiding the warranty on your router by removing the antenna it came with. Just save the original one(s) if you ever need to return it for repair.

You can also use a repeater, which is a “dumb” device that simply receives and re-transmits the signals. Downside to these is they need electricity, so you can’t just nail one of these to a tree to get coverage to the far end of your back yard. There is also some minor configuration to tell if how to behave. These go for around $100. Inside, you’ll get about 250 foot range at 11 mb/s speed, which is as fast as “B” can go. Outside, (where they assume no walls containing pipes and wires) you can go farther.

Aaaaugh! I got it last night, but I can’t get it to work. What I did: install wireless card software. No luck. Install software that came with our router… which I think was unnecessary, but it didn’t work either. I tried manually entering IP/Gateway addresses, but it still didn’t work, and tried going like 10 feet away from the router, which also didn’t work. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I chould do?

You need to go into your router’s configuration page (look in the manual for how to do this–usually you connect to or ). Make sure “SSID broadcast” is enabled. (Contrary to what gotpasswords said, disabling SSID broadcast is not an accepted way to securing your network, and it can make it difficult to diagnose problems as well as connect from a roaming laptop.) Write down what your router says your SSID is (SSID = the “name” of your wireless network); if you haven’t changed it from the default, do so.

Next, search for WEP (wireless encryption protocol) on the router set-up page. Disable it (for now!). See if your laptop can’t connect to the wireless network now; try going into your wireless network card’s setup page (control panel > network connections > $your_wireless_card ) . See if it identifies any wireless networks in the area; can it see your network (with your SSID)? If so, add that SSID to the “preferred networks” list. At this point, you should be able to connect to it.

If all is well, go back to your router configuration page, enable WEP, write down the encryption key and plug it into your laptop’s wireless card setup page. At this point you should have a completely configured and working network. If not… well, try and give us some details :stuck_out_tongue:


I broke down and called tech support today.

Problem: We don’t have a wireless router. It’s not wireless. The model number I looked up was off by a letter. We have a 1000S, not 1000SW. W=wireless. I’m so sad now.

Pretty easy fix, at least. Pick up something like the Linksys WRT54G (I’ve seen them as low as $60 with rebates) if you want to run “G” Wi-Fi (at speeds up to 54 mbps) or their BEFSR41 if you’re content with the 11 mbps speed of “B” Wi-Fi. “B” is more than enough for sharing a DSL or cable modem connection. duh… the BEFSR41 isn’t wireless, but they do have wireless “B” products.

Setup is pretty simple, and they’ve now got wizards to run you through it all. The 2Wire will connect to the router’s “WAN” jack.

iwakura43 Sorry, but changing the SSID then disabling SSID broadcast is the current standard.

sixty? hrm. I picked up the 1000SW I needed from ebay for 61. Should be easier, since it looks like I just need to trade them out… I think they use the same software. Just have to wait for it to get here. waits

Yay, everything is working. I felt stupid having to call tech support last night (again) because my dad couldn’t remember his password (which he reset last week.) It was as simple as switching out the routers after we got past that point, though…