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Need advice about a router for a cable connection

(don't know a thing about this kind of stuff)



3:26 am on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm going to be getting a cable internet connection soon - first time to not have just dial up at home. I was advised to get a router, and that netgear is a good brand. It's not entirely clear to me just exactly what a router does. I have a Tiger direct catalog in front of me that has quite a few netgear ones in it - but I have no idea how to determine which would be best for my needs.

The computer I would mostly be using it with is a laptop running linux too, if that is an issue. I don't currently have any sort of wireless thing set up, but may in the future (if I could ever figure out how to set it up and take care of any security issues).

The cheapest one looks like the MR814 called a 'Cable/DSL wireless router'. Its description mentions an 'install tutorial'. Is there really that much to install? I was under the impression it was just a matter of plugging in and connecting the cable modem to the router and then to the computer?

Other ones come bundled with a 'PC Card' - just what is a PC card anyway? And do I need one?

They also sell switches in the same section - someone mentioned those in a recent thread here - what do they do and is it something I need?

Anyway - I don't have any idea of what to buy, and any advice would be appreciated.


7:54 pm on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I setup a wireless router at home about 1 1/2 years ago. It was pretty easy to do following the router's instructions. The router I bought was a Linksys. Since you'll need a wireless card for your notebook, you may have problems with Linux recognizing the card. You may have install a driver, if there's even one available.

The only problem I've had was interference from my 2.4mhz cordless phone. It caused the connection to drop whenever the phone rang. I took the simple solution and replaced the phone with 5ghz model. Problem solved.


8:38 pm on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A router pretty much does what the name suggests: it routes the data packets coming into it to the proper destination on your network, e.g., your desktop, your wireless connection, a printer, etc.

Even if you have just one machine, a router can still be useful as a firewall. There are numerous methods of configuration that can make your computer more secire from internet attack.

Installation can be pretty easy. Even so, you won't want to just accept the default settings on the router as they tend to err on the side of openess instead of security.

A PC card is what was formerly known as a (I hope I get this right) PCMCIA card. It's roughly the size of a thick credit card and slides into a slot on your laptop. If your laptop doesn't have wireless built in, you'll want to get a wireless PC Card. They can also be modems, ethernet cards, GPS devices, etc.

A switch is a simpler version of a router (which is a very simple explanation).

I don't have any experience with Linux, so I don't know what kind of issues that may involve.


2:14 am on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Trisha, this is one of those areas where it might pay you in the long run to opt for an hour or so of tech-shop time. Besides if you pay a shop to set something up for you, if it doesn't work or goes wrong somehow they should have to fix it (assuming they warrant their work, of course....)


9:03 pm on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This sounds complicated to me.

I actually can't remember if I have a wireless card installed already or not. Maybe I shouldn't get one of the wireless ones. There's another Netgear one called RP614 4-port WebSafe Cable/DSL Router, it doesn't mention anything about wireless, maybe it would be easier to set up.

Let me ask this though: how risky is it to have a cable connection without a router? I ask in part because I was delaying getting the cable connection until I got this sorted out, but I'm in kind of a hurry to get that cable connection.


9:52 pm on Oct 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you read the documentation, it should only take a few minutes to set up a router. Many/most wireless routers also have the necessary connections for for hardwiring, so get wireless. That way you are prepared for the future. There are many manufacturers. I have used both LinkSys and Net Gear. Couldn't really tell the difference. Get one that has a decent warranty and that has a pleasing design. I like lots of little blinking LEDS :)



1:35 pm on Oct 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm with willybfriendly: go ahead and get a wireless router. It's not much more expensive than one without, and you'll be prepared to go wireless when you're ready. I initially went the wired route, and was very happy to cut the cord when I replaced my laptop with a wireless one.

You can get by without a router as long as you have set up a firewall on your computer. I went without a router for years with ZoneAlarm installed on my PC desktop. The main advantage to a router is being able to share your internet connection with more than one computer.

If you want to test your internet security, a good tool is the free Shields UP! at Gibson Research [grc.com]. It will let you know where you might be vunerable to attack.


1:36 am on Oct 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

photon - I don't have a firewall set up. I'm using linux, I don't know that Zone Alarm has a linux version. I haven't checked into software firewalls yet for linux at all. But maybe it isn't as necessary?

-- added: I'm checking at Shields Up to see what happens (with a dial up acccount):

It seems I'm passing most things but failed at the ones below. But it looks like that site is mostly looking for windows type things.

Solicited TCP Packets: RECEIVED (FAILED)


1:12 pm on Oct 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I'n not familiar with linux, but a quick Google search of "linux firewall software" will give you several options, many of them free.

You might want to ask take a look in the linux forum [webmasterworld.com] here. Here's just one thread [webmasterworld.com] from the forum library that might be useful to you..

And FWIW, even though I've got a router, I still have a software firewall running on my desktop PC. So I'd recommend the software firewall regardless if you get a router or not. But again, I don't know how vunerable linux is as a desktop system. I've got my PC protected with a firewall, virus protection, spyware checker, etc. I have nothing of the sort on my Mac (other than it going through the router).


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