What Router?

Puzzled about how to build a wireless home network? Here are some factoids and some jargon to get you started.

You can easily have a wireless network in your home, and still use your current ADSL service. Since you currently have a usb adsl modem, you'd might as well get a combined adsl/wireless router that acts as the gateway to your wireless home network. You'll also get some ethernet ports on that if you like - wireless doesn't have quite the resilient properties of a length of cat5 :) In fact, I'd say that you should use wired ethernet if you can.

As for which router to get... I get the impression that ADSL2 is just for the future (24Mbps) ADSL speeds, as the ADSL only goes up to 10Mbps. Since BT is only starting to roll out 8Mbps next month, I wouldn't see ADSL2 as being essential.

You also need to think about what wireless speed you need. The chances are that your laptop has a 54Mbps interface (802.11g I think), and I think that this is still the fastest 'standard' wireless ethernet speed. 108Mbps and 125Mbps aren't standardised yet, and any equipment featuring these speeds will be proprietary - it will only work at these speeds with other equipment from the same manufacturer. As long as it's 802.11g you'll be fine.

I think the range is typically 30m (100 feet). Same as cordless phones, there's a pretty rapid degradation when you start to go out of range.

As for bluetooth, that's from the mobile phone world (but is available on PCs now), and allows bluetooth-enabled devices to talk to each other wirelessly (without affecting your wireless home network). For what you're doing it's irrelevant and you don't need to enable it. In fact, it is a proven security risk (for example by Bluesnarfing), so don't enable it.

For Linux on your desktop PC, you should be fine as long as Linux has recognised the ethernet card. ifconfig will tell you. Just set it as a DCHP client, unless you want to run server software, in which case you'll need a fixed IP for your router to forward connect requests to.

So, back to the router. Try to get a good make - US Robotics, Belkin, Netgear, D-Link, 3Com. Avoid Dynamode - we have that and it's a bit quirky; cryptic user interface too. I'd say buy one from either Scan.co.uk or Dabs.com, or Amazon if you can get a good price.

Scan

Dabs

Dabs is clearly cheaper, and I'd personally to for the Netgear router, unless you need wireless for your desktop PC - in which case go for the 3Com unit. BUT watch out - that USB adaptor may not get picked up by linux!! This is the product page I think - and it doesn't mention linux drivers there.


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