Roadrunner cable and ethernet hubs

A friend of mine and I are going to move into an apartment next semester, and I want to install Roadrunner cable access. According to their web site’s FAQ list (okay, so I haven’t called them), if I want to have two computers on the cable modem, I’ll need to set up an ethernet hub. I know very little about doing this sort of thing. Because we lived in the dorms with high-speed access, we both have 10/100 ethernet cards already in our computers. I assume that I don’t need to spend the extra money for 100mbps(?) The link below lists a hub that seems pretty good. Will I need any other equipment besides that, the ethernet cards, cables/pigtails, and Time Warner’s cable modem? Thanks.

BTW, they assign separate IP addresses for each computer. (Of course, we have to pay more…)

There are many ways to do this. Search for the string “Linksys” here on the SDMB, in the GQ forum, over the last 6 months or so, and you will find several threads that tell you options.

In short, I personally recommend getting a Linksys router, and sharing 1 IP address. If you need more info than the other threads have on how to do this (I’ve posted very recently on this too), then mail me. Of course, realize that a lot of people think I’m fucked in the head for recommending a hardware solution to this, thinking it is easier to run an internal DHCP server on a separate PC, get all the software installed and set up right, etc. So make sure you look at all of the pros and cons.

I agree with Anthracite. I have a Linksys router to which I have connected (OK, so not me personnaly, my kid has connected) 6 computers. We pay the same price to the cable company as we did when we had only one computer connected. The router costs more than the hub but it is also supposed to serve as your firewall. I think that if you share a hub you need to run software to protect your PCs but you don’t need to if you connect through a router.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions. They do claim on their web site,

Does what you said still hold true, or have you not had experience with this particular provider? Thanks.

OK, I’ll tell you a story.

Your cable provider is giving you only one dynamic IP address, or just one “Internet ID”, that you can have at a time.

With the Ethernet hub, all PCs are physically connected to the same Cable modem, but only one of them can pull down a dynamic IP address at a time. Thus, the first PC turned on is the only one that can surf the web. If the other PC wants to, you need to shut the other one off and re-start the one that you want to surf with. Now, I know that you are supposed to be able to use winipcfg to “release” or “renew” the IP. In practice over several months I found that that was not reliable, and I still had to turn one PC off and turn the other one on. And it sucked.

Now, another way you can do this is to allow one PC at home to be your “gateway”. In this method, this one PC pulls down the one dynamic IP you are allotted, and then your second PC connects to it, and surfs the web “through” the gateway PC. The plus side is if your OS is all set up and you have the software skill to do it, you don’t need to buy any more hardware. The downside is that both PCs must always be on and running for the second PC to access the net, and you need some skill to set it all up (I don’t know how), and there still is the requirement to run your own firewall software.

Now, the way that I do it is to buy a Linksys Etherfast Cable/DSL router. In this case, the router plugs directly into the Cable modem, and it is the thing that pulls down the one dynamic IP you get. THEN, through a magic process that works remarkably well, called “Network Address Translation” (NAT), it allows up to 254 PCs to share the same IP address. Thus, in theory, up to 254 PCs can be on the net, out doing different things, at any time (of course, your bandwidth is shared by all of them…) It assigns “internal” IP addresses to your PCs in your house using a special IP range of “192.168.XXX.YYY”, reserved for things such as this. The Linksys also has ports to connect 4 PCs, so it is also a hub. Also, the Linksys has a built in hardware firewall that is extremely robust - I recently went to the “Shields Up” test site to have my ports scanned and probed, and was given the highest security rating possible there. Also, using your PCs as an Intranet works perfectly with the Linksys, as it is an actual switch, and not just a router. And, should you require it, the Linksys can even allow you to place certain PCs outside its firewall, of you are doing something that requires full access to the PC.

The Linksys does not require any software, does not require any extra PCs be on, and has a huge range of functions and features. The downside is it costs money - about $99 to $129, IIRC. FTR, NetGear makes a competing device that is close to the LInksys, but reviews on rate the Linksys higher in many ways. This is a circumstance where, IMO, the stingy person pays the most.

I recently had Roadrunner in an apartment in the Albany, NY area. Both me and my roomate were able to use the internet just fine with only an ethernet hub. Our service, which was the basic service, allowed for up to three computers to be supported. And even though the IP addresses were dynamic, I usually kept the same one for a couple months at a time. I moved out in May, so I don’t know if Roadrunner has changed their policies in the past month.

Thanks, Anthracite. That explanation clarifies things immeasurably.

Locally I use a cable provider as well. I went the route of the PC gateway. I am running Windows 2000 on two of my desktops, and windows ME on my laptop. The system that has the cable modem plugged into it actually has two network cards; one for the cable modem, one for the network. Windows 2000 automatically recongised the network connections, all I had to do was tell it to share the one network connection that the cable modem was on. At that point all of my other systems accessed the internet through the primary windows 2000 desktop.


  1. win2k made this setup very easy, one check box and that was it
  2. win2k is much more stable than ME or 98 (side affect)
  3. only had to buy a hub, not a router, for my home network
  4. cable company only ever “sees” one system, 1 IP address


  1. the primary system has to be on for the others to surf the web (much less trouble to just leave it on with win2k)
  2. no real firewall protecton. Win2k is fair at it, especally with the NTFS partition, but your not really protected
  3. buying win2k is not a con, but hell it costs more than the router

Yup, RR will let you use 2 in the Albany area. However, I’m currently using it in eastern MA, and I can only use 1 computer without a router. Same goes for service in Ithaca, NY. You need a router there, too.

I’d say it varies depending on what cable company you get it from. To be safe, I’d recommend the OP just pick up a router. They have one on sale (a Linksys, I think) on sale at Best Buy next week for $60 after rebate

I have a hub and RR with three computers. Very handy, and it was easy to set up. The only problem is that when a comp is on the network and it or another is restarted or booted, it steals the priorities and has the internet. I have only one address, so that is why it does it.
Good luck!

I have the lynksys befsr41 and have 3 computers that can get to the Internet simultaneously via roadrunner. I used to have a linux computer take the place of the lynsys box but the lynksys box uses less electricity it is smaller and now I can play with the linux computer without messing up my wife’s ability to get to the Internet. I think they are less than $100 now a days.

The cheapest way to get mulitple PCs online is to put two NICs in one PC and use it as a router. You can use Windows 98 SE or higher, or Linux if you know how. A hardware router like the linksys will be faster, give you cool features to play with, and not slow down the performance of the main PC any. I use windows ICS because I’m cheap.