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Wireless Routers For Ibook?
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JDubb108
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Mar 29, 2005, 03:29 AM
 
Im about to setup a wireless network, and I was wondering what kind wireless router I should get? I know nothing about routers. I heard that some dont work as good on Apple? Any routers you use and recommend? Im looking to spend around 50 bucks. Thanks a lot.
     
mike518
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Mar 29, 2005, 06:18 AM
 
Granted, it will cost you more than $50, but what's wrong with just purchasing an AirPort Express Base Station? At least it's supported by Apple, and won't have any compatibility issues.
     
brother337
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Mar 29, 2005, 06:37 AM
 
A friend of mine had serious issues with her Airport Extreme Base Station, where it would need to be reset every few days. We were never able to figure out why it happened.

This is not the norm, as most people have no problems with their AE basestations, but it's not an uncommon problem either.

Otherwise, I used a Linksys wrt54g for years with no problems at all. Good reliable routers with a good featureset, and an opensource firmware that people are continually expanding on.

Currently I'm using a Netgear WGT624 (cause I got it as a present) and I've been very pleased with it's performance as well.

You can't beat the Airport series as far as ease-of-use and setup go, but I've found that Linksys and Netgear routers work just as well, performance-wise, and they're much much cheaper.
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ghporter
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Mar 29, 2005, 10:06 AM
 
There's a whole forum for networking questions. It's called "Networking." There is nothing involving networking that's peculiar to iBooks.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Mojo
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Mar 29, 2005, 05:46 PM
 
I have owned two different Linksys wireless gateways/routers. The first thing to keep in mind is that Linksys does not provide support to Mac owners, so unless you happen upon a Linksys tech support person who knows something about Macs, you will be on your own.
It may not be an issue if you know what you are doing and all goes well, but the lack of support may come back to bite you should you run into problems.

I never felt very good about giving my money to a company that refuses to support Macs (and seems to be proud of it) but I was beguiled by the price difference...

Linksys products use a web browser interface that enables the user to configure the router. Since Linksys products are developed first and foremost for PCs, firmware upgrades can only be done using a PC or the shareware program MacTFTP. If you are going to use MacTFTP, you should plan on another expense of $12 to register the software. Don't think that you will be able to skip firmware upgrades...doing so may compromise the router's ability to function properly.

The Linksys routers work okay as long as you do not enable WEP or WPA encryption. But once you try to set-up basic security (which everyone should do, unless you like broadcasting your open network and possibly your data to others...) the configuration can get hinky. I spent way too much time attempting to get the Linksys gear to play nice with my Macs.

I regularly had to reset the Linksys routers, but it became less of a problem after a firmware upgrade applied to my second Linksys router. I had to buy the newer router because Linksys stopped upgrading the firmware on the earlier model, preventing me from enabling WPA encryption when it became available.

I finally opted to spend the money on an Apple Extreme Base Station after I calculated all the lost time and energy spent messing with the Linksys equipment. As one would expect, the Apple base station is a relative snap to configure, it works well with both regular and Airport Extreme cards, and you can use an Airport Express to extend the range of your wireless LAN. Wireless printer sharing is also a nice feature; I currently have an inkjet and 10 year old Apple LaserWriter 360 available to all the Macs on my network. (As far as I know, Linksys and most other third-party routers do not allow printer sharing when using Macs, so be sure to check if you plan on using this feature.) Enabling WEP and/or WPA encyrption is not a problem. And unlike the Linksys, I have not had a single dropped connection or a need to reset the base station since I purchased it months ago.

Spending less money up-front may be more important to you and you may not value your time very highly. If so, then by all means purchase a Linksys. Otherwise, an Apple or a more compatible alternative is likely to be your best bet.
( Last edited by Mojo; Mar 29, 2005 at 07:43 PM. )
     
JDubb108  (op)
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Mar 29, 2005, 08:57 PM
 
Originally posted by Mojo:
I have owned two different Linksys wireless gateways/routers. The first thing to keep in mind is that Linksys does not provide support to Mac owners, so unless you happen upon a Linksys tech support person who knows something about Macs, you will be on your own.
It may not be an issue if you know what you are doing and all goes well, but the lack of support may come back to bite you should you run into problems.

I never felt very good about giving my money to a company that refuses to support Macs (and seems to be proud of it) but I was beguiled by the price difference...

Linksys products use a web browser interface that enables the user to configure the router. Since Linksys products are developed first and foremost for PCs, firmware upgrades can only be done using a PC or the shareware program MacTFTP. If you are going to use MacTFTP, you should plan on another expense of $12 to register the software. Don't think that you will be able to skip firmware upgrades...doing so may compromise the router's ability to function properly.

The Linksys routers work okay as long as you do not enable WEP or WPA encryption. But once you try to set-up basic security (which everyone should do, unless you like broadcasting your open network and possibly your data to others...) the configuration can get hinky. I spent way too much time attempting to get the Linksys gear to play nice with my Macs.

I regularly had to reset the Linksys routers, but it became less of a problem after a firmware upgrade applied to my second Linksys router. I had to buy the newer router because Linksys stopped upgrading the firmware on the earlier model, preventing me from enabling WPA encryption when it became available.

I finally opted to spend the money on an Apple Extreme Base Station after I calculated all the lost time and energy spent messing with the Linksys equipment. As one would expect, the Apple base station is a relative snap to configure, it works well with both regular and Airport Extreme cards, and you can use an Airport Express to extend the range of your wireless LAN. Wireless printer sharing is also a nice feature; I currently have an inkjet and 10 year old Apple LaserWriter 360 available to all the Macs on my network. (As far as I know, Linksys and most other third-party routers do not allow printer sharing when using Macs, so be sure to check if you plan on using this feature.) Enabling WEP and/or WPA encyrption is not a problem. And unlike the Linksys, I have not had a single dropped connection or a need to reset the base station since I purchased it months ago.

Spending less money up-front may be more important to you and you may not value your time very highly. If so, then by all means purchase a Linksys. Otherwise, an Apple or a more compatible alternative is likely to be your best bet.
Wow, THANKS Mojo.

I have no knowledge whatsoever about routers, and how to setup anything. I just want something I can setup and not have any much problems, but the Apple Base station is WAY out of my price range.

Anyone have more experience with Netgear?

I was connecting off a linksys router before from my neighbors and it worked okay.

Also, I just ordered SBC DSL, and Im second guessing if I should have purchased the network package deal with the 2wire modem/router. Anyone have that and whats the results?
     
Insaneous
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Mar 29, 2005, 11:06 PM
 
The company that I work for, OnDeckTech, recommends Linksys. We are a Mac based consulting firm for home users. We consistently install and support Linksys on Mac based systems. The Airport does have some issues regarding resets and of course is very expensive. May I suggest the WRT54G from linksys, it is available at most local computer stores and can be purchased from $50-$70, depending on sales and locations.

If you have any further questions please ask.
Be out of trouble & into what works.
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ghporter
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Mar 29, 2005, 11:09 PM
 
SBC's 2Wire equipment doesn't really come with any more support for Macs than Linksys' equipment does. In truth, there's not much "Mac-specific" about networking; just where you change the settings you may need to. Out of the box a Linksys router will be prepared to run your network without any fuss, with the exception of having to enter your user name and password to have the router handle DSL authentication for you (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!).

The fact that Linksys doesn't "support Macs" is really not that big a deal. They don't provide much support for PCs, and the majority of their PC software is "setup wizards" for PC users who are too lazy to read the quick setup guide that comes with the unit. Yes, I'm a Linksys fan, but it goes beyond that. Asanté "supports Macs," but they charge a lot more for their equipment, and nobody's equipment breaks down enough for me to really want to pay extra for "Mac support." There are plenty of online resources, starting with BroadbandReports.com, which has a whole forum dedicated to Linksys networking equipment.

I am currently running a mixed network (PCs and Macs, plus a Linux box if and when I ever get the time to put it back together) on a Linksys BEFSR41 router and a WAP54G wireless access point; I like the separation of functions that this affords me, but many people like the fact that a WRT54G costs just a little more than the BEFSR41 by itself, and handles both functions. Networking is flawless throughout. Right now my wife is surfing wirelessly on her iBook while I'm wired in, and our son is surfing on his PC-there is no noticable loss of speed while all three of us are busy online.

Finally, Mojo's comments about Linksys are overall positive compared to a lot of what you'll find on this and other Mac-centric forums. There's an awful lot of downright hate against Linksys out there, and it's about 99.999% undeserved. The only thing Linksys does really badly is provide direct technical support-you will get better customer service and tech support from SBC; I've been an SBC DSL user for about five years. Anyway, poor telephone support aside, almost all of the hate comes from people wanting to have their hands held as they walk through something, and getting frustrated because some poor schmuck in Bangalore has never seen a Mac. If you run into problems after you read the instructions and try to do what they say, post here, and you WILL get help. Maybe more help than you really wanted!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Mojo
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Mar 30, 2005, 01:27 AM
 
You know, it's a funny thing about wireless routers: there are success and horror stories for every brand. I would have been happy to stick with Linksys if it hadn't caused me problems. And I don't mind admiting that in the beginning I did need some help setting it up, because the terminology and configuration options can be confusing to a newbie if you want to change any of the default settings.

I know that it may be hard for some people to believe, but a lot of folks don't know the difference between a WAN or a LAN, or what SSID stands for. The two Linksys manuals I am familiar with aren't that clear if you are new to wireless routers. When Linksys would upgrade the firmware, the layout of the configuration settings would often change and sometimes even the terminology of particular settings, which doesn't make things any easier. (I suspect that most folks don't even change the default network name and password and use a router as it comes out of the box.) Later I had problems regarding security and at that point in time I knew a lot more about what I was doing.

I have no idea why people love to hate Linksys; until the previous post I was not aware of it. I lucked-out the first time I called Linksys and connected with a sympathetic guy who knew a little about Macs and who bothered to take the time to help me. I knew enough that between the two of us we figured it out. (I don't recall the specific problem, but it was more than just basic configuring of the router.)

But I had reason to call Linksys sometime later and they were not helpful at all, and I have read about this sort of thing elsewhere, so there may be a good reasons why some Mac people don't care to deal with Linksys. For some of us it may be more important to support a company who actively supports the Mac platform, even if it costs a little more money. But I realize that many people don't feel that way, either because price is the bottom-line for them or they really cannot afford more expensive gear.

On another Mac forum I frequent folks who do not use Apple equipment mention other brands more often than Linksys, such as Netgear and D-Link. They seem to have fewer compatibility glitches and can utilize wireless printing when it is supported. (That's a nice feature when using a portable Mac. The AppleTalk compatibility built-in to the Airport Extreme Base Station was a nice bonus, as it made it possible for me to share my mint-condition LaserWriter.) If I were looking for a router I would do some poking around and see if there isn't another option that meets more of my needs. I think there are some viable alternatives that cost the same as a comparable Linksys router.

(BTW, I was at a Costco store yesterday and I saw at least two different brands of wireless routers and Costco generally has very competitive prices. Costco has one of the most liberal return policies I know of, so I love to buy techno gadgets there just in case it doesn't work out and I can return the item with zero hassle.)

For me, fiddling around trying to get the Linksys to work on a network with Macs running both OS 9 and OS X, Airport and Airport Extreme cards and with WPA enabled got to be too much of a chore. My time is worth something to me and I could afford the higher-priced alternative, so I went for it. Fortunately, it turned out to be the right decision for me. YMMV.
( Last edited by Mojo; Mar 30, 2005 at 02:00 AM. )
     
jamil5454
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Mar 30, 2005, 08:44 AM
 
My vote goes to the Linksys WRT54G. Endless config options, great reception, cheap price, very stable.
     
cybergoober
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Mar 30, 2005, 09:00 AM
 
WRT54G here.

Mojo - You can upgrade the firmware from a Mac. Through the web interface. I have done it many times...
     
ghporter
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Mar 30, 2005, 10:09 AM
 
Upgrading firmware through the web interface of a Linksys router hasn't always been there. In fact, it's a fairly recent addition, and one that is a real boon to Mac users, since Linksys never provided an FTP client for Mac OS to upload firmware; they DID direct users to a third party that supplied a Mac FTP client for free.

By the way, another advantage of using a WRT54G is the third party firmware available for it. There are TONS of options in these packages not found in Linksys' firmware that make the router even more flexible.

Mojo, I understand your frustration. I think on your first call to Linksys you got the one-out-of-ten support guy that both knew something and felt motivated to help; their first tier support folks are abysmal for EVERYBODY. And having to mix OS 9 into everything else was obviously a major hassle, no doubt about it. However, as I said earlier, you can always ask here for any help you need, or on BroadbandReports.com's Linksys forum. The only reason I've ever contacted Linksys tech support was to get a replacement power supply for my router, and that wasn't a picnic; it's easier to do that on their web site.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
jamil5454
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Mar 31, 2005, 08:30 AM
 
Originally posted by ghporter:

By the way, another advantage of using a WRT54G is the third party firmware available for it. There are TONS of options in these packages not found in Linksys' firmware that make the router even more flexible.
True Dat, Brotha.

Linux is available in a minimized form for the WRT54G. It runs in RAM so all you need is a power cycle to get the router back to normal. And the cool part is that the router still works when running Linux, but you can telnet into it and run a few commands.

http://www.batbox.org/wrt54g-linux.html
     
artaxerxes
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Apr 4, 2005, 11:08 AM
 
WRT54G++

I have used this in multiple situations with my trusty iBook. It is such a solid router that it has spawned an entire subculture devoted to tweaking it ;-)
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Spliff
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Aug 6, 2005, 01:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
By the way, another advantage of using a WRT54G is the third party firmware available for it. There are TONS of options in these packages not found in Linksys' firmware that make the router even more flexible.
I've never come across 3rd-party firmware hacks for Linksys routers. Where can I download some of these?
     
ghporter
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Aug 6, 2005, 06:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spliff
I've never come across 3rd-party firmware hacks for Linksys routers. Where can I download some of these?
Look on www.linksysinfo.org for more than you could possibly imagine in the way of third-party firmware for a variety of different Linksys products. While you do have to register to download from them, you can find the right firmware pretty quickly. You'll want to look into Sveasoft's firmware for the WRT54G, though there are others available.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
wkw88
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Aug 7, 2005, 02:05 AM
 
I really like my airport express. I have had zero problems with it and it has been on for several weeks now since I first brought it home. It is expensive but it seems to work perfectly, and has a very strong signal. I have tried a linksys 54G with pretty good results although it did flake out on me several times. I sold the linksys to a friend and he has had no problems with it. I brought home a d-link but it seemed to be crap, I took it back the next day and bought the airport express unit.
     
SSharon
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Aug 7, 2005, 02:37 AM
 
Yet another vote for the WRT54G. I did what the people here told me to do and I have been very happy. I have it plugged into my UPS and it serves my MDD and linux box wired and my ibook and friends' PCs and Mac laptops with no problems at all. I only wish I could forward more ports, but I think you will be fine with 10 for now.
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ghporter
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Aug 7, 2005, 11:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by wkw88
I really like my airport express. I have had zero problems with it and it has been on for several weeks now since I first brought it home. It is expensive but it seems to work perfectly, and has a very strong signal. I have tried a linksys 54G with pretty good results although it did flake out on me several times. I sold the linksys to a friend and he has had no problems with it. I brought home a d-link but it seemed to be crap, I took it back the next day and bought the airport express unit.
The AirPort Express is a very good product. However, there are some drawbacks besides the cost.

First, unless you get an external antenna for it, you have to depend on the AirPort Express' internal antenna (basically the same kind of antenna found in wireless PC cards), which is not nearly as effective as the external antennas that come with other brands. Further, even with an external antenna, AirPort Express Base Stations do not support "diversity" reception, which gives an access point or router a significant advantage in high-interference situations (like just about any place where you find neighbors with their own wireless networks. Plus, you only get two ethernet ports on the AEBS, and you usually have to use one of them for your broadband connection. Most other brands' routers offer at least four ports AND a dedicated port for a broadband connection.

Don't get me wrong; I really like Apple's product. But you don't get the "bang for the buck" in terms of flexibility and features.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Darthmaul4114
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Aug 8, 2005, 08:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by jamil5454
My vote goes to the Linksys WRT54G. Endless config options, great reception, cheap price, very stable.
yup, running my PB from one of those. Airport Extremem base stations are SO expensive. I don't even know why, because it's the same freakin thing, it just looks a little neater. Airport Extreme is just an 802.11g router, it's not in any special mac format or anything. Macs can run off of regular routers and PCs can run off of airport extreme routers. Makes no difference.

My vote goes to linksys routers tho.
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