Best way to set up a LAN using equipment I already own.
May 28, 2004 7:09 AM   Subscribe

The new network Friday challenge: I need to set up a network for my new place and I wanted to do it with my available stuff. How close can I come? More inside.

Moving into a new place. Cable is only wired downstairs and we don't want the multiple-TV temptation of having it upstairs. Three computers will be upstairs, and I want all of them to have network access via the wireless router in the living room.

The desktop computers are running:

Windows XP
Suse 8.1
Windows 98 SE

To connect them I currently have:

a netgear wireless router
1 wireless pci card
about 6 standard ethernet cards
a network bridge

My questions are 1) what is the best way to hook them up without dropping 130 bucks on two more wireless cards and 2) what's the cheapest way to hook them up?
posted by Mayor Curley to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
how far is the living room from the office? are you up for pulling wire between them?
posted by machaus at 7:24 AM on May 28, 2004

Well, if your wireless PCI card is supported by Linux, you could put that into the Suse box along with one of the ethernet cards and use it as a router. It connects to your wireless network, you plug its wired connection into the uplink port of a $10 hub, plug ethernet from the two Windows machines into the hub, and there you have it.

If you're not familiar with setting up routing, this could be a bit of a headache, and the NAT-inside-NAT situation might give you some grief, but it's almost certainly the cheapest way to do it, and mostly avoids running cables all over the place.

This might also work with XP as the router (using its Internet Connection Sharing), although I've never done that so I can't vouch for its robustness.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:30 AM on May 28, 2004

Assuming you're willing to pay a few bucks for a switch or hub -- try eBay -- and run some cat 5, you have all the required hardware to network these three machines together.

" I want all of them to have network access via the wireless router in the living room."

Oh. Well, it looks like you don't have enough wireless NICs for that. If these are desktop machines, what's the requirement for them to be connected to the AP? Isn't a wired hub good enough?
posted by majick at 7:32 AM on May 28, 2004

<not an answer to your question>I would recommend you remain wired wherever practical. I just set up a wireless network in my two-bedroom condo and I find I have all sorts of problems with the desktop machine (loss of signal, etc.). It works great for my mobile devices, but I'm seriously considering running cat5 for the desktop.
posted by jpoulos at 7:47 AM on May 28, 2004

Response by poster: majick-- that falls within the bounds of what I want. So all I need is a hub to run between the bridge and the computers?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:22 AM on May 28, 2004

what exactly is your bridge.....bridging? i hate using that as a verb.

is it a wireless access point? i think they're specifically designed to allow a bunch of computers that are hooked up to a switch or hub to become that's cool.

if you're going to eBay, remember, you want a switch if you can afford it, and a hub if you can't. you should be able to get a small 4-port pretty cheaply.

also...wireless through the floor? does that work well? everybody i know with wireless has single floor dwellings. i know that if i'm out on my porch, which is the extreme opposite of my bedroom and the router, i get better reception with the door open. shrug.
posted by taumeson at 9:08 AM on May 28, 2004

If the computers have an extra USB port, has 802.11b USB adapters for free after rebate (shipping is $3.95 though). I can't vouch for these adapters,, or Linux compatibility and it looks like the offer expires on May 31st.

Adapter - rebate form
posted by hootch at 10:25 AM on May 28, 2004

Response by poster: what exactly is your bridge.....bridging?

Right now the bridge is providing access for my Playstation 2. The PS2 is going to be plugged in directly to the router, so the bridge is free to use.

hootch- that's a great find! (But I'm not sure if I'm savvy enough to get the linux box using it.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:49 AM on May 28, 2004

Response by poster: It just occurred to me that I have another wireless router. Can I use that in place of a hub?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2004

I'm not sure where the bridge enters into it. Are we talking about routing your network or networks to another one, perhaps an ISP's? In that case, the answer will depend very highly on several factors, and require answers you may not have:

Do you have a routable, public IP address for every device on your network? Or are you using internal (192.168 or 10.) addresses? Do you need or already have address or port translation? Does that come from inside your network or outside it?

If you're just trying to hook a bunch of computers up to share an internet connection, and you have one or fewer (such a dynamic) IP addresses, you can plug them all into a switch, hang one of those el cheapo Linksys or D-Link NAT routers (or maybe your WAP has this built in?) off the switch, and hook that into whatever gets traffic in and out of the house -- a cable modem or DSL bridge or something.

You wind up with something that looks like this:
(Sorry about how badly <pre> tags work here.)
Your ISP
    | (cable or DSL or whatever)
 THING  (whatever you got from your ISP)
   Cheapo router / your wireless doohickey
   A switch or hub or some extra ports on the cheapo router
   |       |         |         |
   |       |         |         |   (some ethernet cable)
  PC       PC       PC        PC

posted by majick at 10:57 AM on May 28, 2004

Response by poster: would this work?

posted by Mayor Curley at 11:49 AM on May 28, 2004

"router two" has me worried -- if it's a NAT router (most of the cheapos are) it's going to be quite, um, "funky," running a private network behind a private network.

It might actually work, but I get the feeling you'll spend more time twiddling settings and cursing at consumer grade network hardware manufacturers than you would earning a couple of bucks to spend on a switch or hub.

What say you swap out "router two" for something more switch-like, and run one long-ass piece of ethernet from it to "router one?"
posted by majick at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2004

Response by poster: Done and done. I just ordered a switch. So I replace router 2 with the hub and I'm off. Thanks a ton!
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:11 PM on May 28, 2004

(a bit late but) you can turn the nat bit off on the wireless doodahs i've used. what i do, for something very similar to what you want, is:

- cable connection to cable modem.
- cable modem connected to 1 card in linux box
- another card in linux box connects to radio doodah
- another card in linux box connects to a hub
- some computers are wired to the hub
- some computers use wireless to the doodah

the linux box is configured to do all the nat, firewall, mac address restriction and keeps the two internal networks (wired and wireless) separate. the wired internal network has disks etc mounted and visible; the wireless network is just routed straight out of the door.

the wireless doodah has all the fancy nat, firewall stuff turned off, except for encryption. you seem to have a pile more network hardware than you need - if you're ok getting the linux machine to manage the network then you don't need anything fancy.

on the other hand, if you don't know what you're doing with linux, you probably want to avoid it.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:13 PM on May 28, 2004

For the record, I'm only helping you move. If you insist on putting a router behind a router, I'm leaving early (unless it's one of those routers that can run in different modes).
posted by yerfatma at 5:00 PM on May 28, 2004

« Older How do I move from Windows 98 to Windows XP?   |   my lawn is too long - help me Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.