Routing DSL Between Two Computers

I recently ordered DSL, and I have two computers at home I’d like to share the connection between. One is a VPR Matrix 1.8Ghz running Windows XP; the other is a Dell which originally came with NT but was changed over to 98. Both have 10/100 NICs. I understand that the general way to do this would be to get a DSL/Cable router that would connect to the DSL modem, which is connected to the phone line, then have two ethernet lines going to each computer from the router. Since the router costs about $50, I was wondering about other ways to do this. Would it be possible for me to keep my existing crossover cable between the two computers, put another $15 NIC into the VPR, and have the DSL line come into the extra NIC card in the VPR? In theory it should work, but I’m not exactly sure how I would implement that. However, since I just ordered the DSL, you guys have at least another month before they’ll send me the equipment. :smiley:

Thanks for all the useful replies.

Although i’ve never tried crossover + 3 nics, I think it’d work. You’d probably need to setup your 98 machine to be an internet connection sharing client though.

Personally i’d buy the router. That way you don’t have to keep your xp machine on the time. I bought my own router(Uber basic) for 30 bucks. should have some nice tutorials on how to set up ICS

I’d second the router recommendation. It’s a cleaner solution and if the router provides NAT (network address translation) it’ll give you some additional security as well.

I got a DSL Router, a Compaq brand one on clearance sale at Radio Shack for $30. Maybe if you’re lucky, a Radio Shack near you still has one on the shelf.

I also second (third?) going the router route. :wink: Not only are they easily affordable for anyone who can afford two computers and a DSL connection, they (generally…can’t swear they all do) provide a hardware based firewall between you and the ugly outside world. Much better protection than software, alone. They’re also extremely simple to set up, these days.

But, if you insist on being cheap, you should be able to use Windows’ Internet Connection Sharing. It doesn’t matter whether the source is dial-up, cable, or DSL. You will need the third NIC, for this, though. So, there goes a chunk of the savings.

This is a really good website on home networking that should help.

I also recommend the router, if you can squeeze it in.

For the last few days, I’ve been fiddling with the same ad-hoc solution that you’re considering for a few days, and I’m finding that it’s a pain-in-the-butt under windows.

(I’m running Me, though, so you may find differently.)

My prob is that the home-networking networking wizard, as well as a couple of simple proxy servers that I’ve tried, aren’t written in such a way as to take account of the possibility of more than one network card per machine. The proxies often are looking for requests on the card that connects to the net, and ignoring the card that connects to the spare machine.

Each time I restart my computer, the proxy randomly selects either 192.168.x.x (which leads to the net) or 10.0.x.x, which leads to my spare computer. Restarting the proxy makes no nevermind.

If I had room in the budget, I’d spring for the thirty-metre cable it would take to hook my spare up to the network hub which is in the basement.

If you have the spare NIC’s lying around, (I did,) it’s worth a shot, maybe with a different OS & hardware it won’t be a problem for you. But the router is the better solution.

On disadvantage to the cheap method, the primary computer that the cable/dsl modem is connected to has to be always on to use the dsl. So even if no one is using it, computer A has to be turned on frst for computer B to access the internet. Use a router, and only the router and cable/dsl modem has to be always on for any of the compters to access the internet. Plus the router way allows for expansion later on.

Get the router! It’s a much better solution. My LinkSys unit even stores my account information and password so all I have to do is open the browser and it’s already to go.

As Larry implies, you’ll probably spend either a week cursing at your computer going the cheapo route or a week marvelling at this simple piece of approporiate technology if you go the router, er, route. Plus, some routers such as mine also have print servers built in that are totally easy to set up. We have linux and windows systems at home which easily share the printer and internet using a router.

Hmmm…I guess I should go through the route (hah!) you guys are suggesting. Only thing is that I would like to be able to host games on for Warcraft III. I know that most of the poeple on aren’t able to host games because they have firewalls. Is a hardware firewall configurable enough that it would let me do something like that? I figured using the 3 NICs, I could set how much security I would want so I could host the games.

As an aside, my computer (the VPR) is almost always on. I’m constantly downloading files, which would never get done downloading if I didn’t leave it on all the time.

Oh, and if it wasn’t made clear in my first post, the internet would be going into the VPR, which would be sharing it with the Dell via the corssover cable.

You can host games. You’ll need to tinker with the firewall settings a bit though. For I know theres a specific port you need to open. It’s in the settings somewhere.

Right, firewalls usually provide a way to open ports that they normally block, and also provide a way to temporarily turn off all blocking in case you don’t want to figure that out. The people on who “can’t host games because of firewall issues” simply haven’t figured out how to properly configure their firewall.

Also note, since both computers (in either scenario) are sharing one public IP address, it is not likely you’d be able to play a networked game with both of your computers and another computer on the internet.


Just buy the damn router!

OK, sounds like I’m going with a DSL router. Playing on at the same time with both comps really isn’t an issue, though, since the Dell only runs at 300Mhz.

Also, I checked in the game options and found that the port ID is set to the default 6112. I suppose is everyone on uses the same port it should work fine. However, my friend, who has DSL routed between two computers, can’t host games on despite the same default port of 6112. I’m pretty sure he has a Linksys DSL router with a built in firewall. How can I change his settings so he can host?

Before I got a DSL I set up my brother’s two PCs to share his. Because he had an internal DSL modem I had to use just 2 NICs and Internet Connection Sharing software. I struggled for hours trying to get Windows 98 ICS (internet connection sharing) to work. Finally his DSL provider’s tech support said that it just wouldn’t. Luckily I found ICS software that did.

As others have pointed out, the one PC must remain on & connected. You’ll also always have to initially connect thru that PC then go back to the other one to use the internet on it.

Also, this kind of a setup can be ‘flakey’ requiring frequent rebooting to re-establish the network connections between the two PCs.

When I got DSL I bought a D-Link DI-704 broadband router (they were $100 back then!) and had both PCs accessing the internet in minutes. They are completely independent of each other. This is because not only does a broadband router let you share an internet connection, but because you can enter your signon info into the router. Then internet access becomes completely transparent, i.e. it gives you an ‘always on’ connection. No signing on, no user ID or password entry (if you want it that way), just double-click Internet Explorer and you’re there!

Granted I am a network newbie but…isn’t the proper appliance a switch not a router. It was expained to me that although they are both capable of the same tasks a router was better for many connections to one (for example hosting a web site ewhere hundreds of people might visit at a time), where a switch was better for one connection to many (like sharing internet between members of a network)

Please correct me if I am barking up the wrong “network tree” so to speak.

Nope, it’s a router. A switch is for connections on the same network, a router for connections on different networks. Since he’ll be connecting a DSL line to two pc’s, they’ll be on different networks. You route between them.

I have a router and ethernet wires, put in over two years ago, b ut the guy who did it tells me that nowadays he would just put in a wireless ethernet system, avoiding all the wires, allowing me to take my laptop out to the porch in the summer and generally much more flexible. On the other hand, I have a problem with setting up VPN to my office that no one has been able to solve and I assume that is some bad interaction with the firewall in the router. The router reports at least a dozen attempted breakins a day, so I would agree with everyone that a hardware firewall is a good idea.

Yeah, well, it sounds as if you’re bit unclear on where switches and routers fit in the picture.

A switch is a Layer 2 device, it moves data between (mostly) local computers with amazing speed, but it’s dumber than a box of rocks if we’re talking Internet - it does not move data based on an IP address (you know, and the like), but based on the hardware address (MAC address, 32 bit address burnt in from the factory) on the NICs plugged into it. The forwarding decisions are very simple, but there are problems of scale - if you have several thousand (or several million) computers, the switch can’t keep all those addresses in its internal tables. Even worse, if a switch does not know an address, it’ll forward the data frame on all its ports (flooding) - again, fine if you have a couple of hundred computers, but it does not scale.

Enter the router, a Layer 3 device. It speaks IP (or another routable protocol - they exist), where computers are recognized not by their random MAC address, but by an IP address that’s assigned by whoever laid out the network. The IP address consists of a network part and a host part. This means that the router only needs one entry per network in its forwarding table. Is this smart ? Yup, because networks can be made as large as you want, making the address table smaller. A small table means faster lookup and better performance.

Furthermore, the router is smart enough to have the concept of a default route, somewere to send data that’s not specifically in its address table. A DSL router is typically the ultrasimple version: It’ll route everything that’s not local to your provider.

Routers can also make smart decisions based on destination, source, type of traffic etc. All this fancy functionality comes at a price in performance, of course - so you’ll be wanting to switch between computers on the same network, but route between the networks.

(Getting really furry: Some people sell layer 3 switches. They are switches that route - and, IMHO, that makes them routers. But that’s not a concept we need to get into here.)

That probably muddied the waters even more…

I use a simple 5-port hub with the uplink port connected to the DSL Modem and a cable to each PC. Only the modem and the hub have to be on for this to work from either PC.

A router should give you a HW firewall, which is (perhaps) better than my SW firewall (I don’t know how they really work though, so I can’t tell ya for sure).

I don’t think I’ve added anything fresh, but I wanted to add to the consensus, I guess (as well as get in my first real post).