Know of a cheap USB Wifi dongle for Mac OS 9?
July 15, 2005 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I need help with my parent's iBook (OS 9.2). They want wireless internet but there's no PC-card slot, nor an "under the keyboard" option. There is a USB port. Anybody know of a $20 USB-adapter that will work with OS 9. I already know about the AeroPad, but that sucker is $70!

Does anybody know of a cheaper option? I'd be willing to go to $30 or $40. There are a vast array of little sticks for PCs. Has anybody here used one with a Mac on OS 9. I'm happy to download patches / drivers / etc. And I don't care what the box says, I just want this to work.
posted by zpousman to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
All the iBooks have options for internal airport cards, right from the first 300Mhz Clamshells, and they'll work with OS 9 better than USB.
posted by bonaldi at 11:23 AM on July 15, 2005

What kind of iBook is it? (I.e., what color/speed, for starters?)Even the very first iBooks had an AirPort card slot. In fact, that was the big selling point — Steve Jobs surfed the web while waving a hula hoop around the machine to wow us at Macworld. (What can I say, Mac users are easily impressed by Steve.)

Unless you have a non-AirPort iBook model I'm not aware of, an AirPort card seems like the easiest thing. It's a little above your price range, but you ought to be able to swing an original AirPort card (not AirPort Extreme) for ~$50-$60 on eBay. Are your parents not willing to chip in a little for the luxury of wireless internet?
posted by TPIRman at 11:25 AM on July 15, 2005

I bought one of these from TigerDirect refurbished for $25. They don't have them anymore, but surely someone does.

It's connected to my Tivo at the moment. Very nice form factor if you can't get an airport card (but you should be able to -- IIRC, access to the slot was under the battery).
posted by o2b at 11:35 AM on July 15, 2005

Best answer: Some links if you'd like to go the AirPort route (which really will be the easiest in OS 9):

Determine what kind of iBook your parents have.

Instructions for installing an AirPort card in a clamshell iBook.

Instructions for installing an AirPort card in a white iBook.

If your parents have an iBook G4, instructions for installing an AirPort Extreme card are included in the manual.

On preview: The DLink adapter linked by o2b is for OS X 10.2 or above — it might work on OS 9 but my bet is that it would be sketchy at best if you could coax into working at all. I've heard that the DLinks don't always play nice with Macs, even under OSX.
posted by TPIRman at 11:51 AM on July 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everybody who said the same thing. I guess we'll go the airport route. The only trouble with those is that a) I don't live with them so they'll have to dump out the keyboard themselves -- trivial for me, hard for them. And b) the it wouldn't be as flexible as a USB dongle. Hrm.

If anybody does have experience with one of the name brand or off-brand USB dongles on Mac OS 9, please chime in!
posted by zpousman at 12:41 PM on July 15, 2005

As other have stated, every single iBook ever made supports an internal AirPort card.

Because of this, Mac-compatible USB sticks are rare and (in my experience) have very flakey drivers, since there's no competition. An AirPort card will work flawlessly.
posted by cillit bang at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2005

just in case it helps anyone else, the ralink rt2500 (pci and also pcmcia) as well as rt2570 (usb) have osx drivers (which are not perfect but have been satisfactory for me) and the hardware can be had fairly cheaply, e.g. the dwl-122 mentioned above (my personal preference is the asus wl 167 g, $30ish at newegg) -- list of ralink-based hardware.

the other nice thing is that ralink put their driver source into gpl and it's currently under active development. the not so nice thing is that there is no mac binary or build system for the open source driver yet.

for os9 your only choice may indeed be airport/broadcom type hardware...
posted by dorian at 7:30 PM on July 15, 2005

I would point out that the Airport (non-extreme) software and driver software is in a state of finished perfection - it hasn't been updated in years, because it doesn't need to be. It just works, all the time. I think you'd be making a major error to go non-Airport on this one.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:14 AM on July 16, 2005

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