[thechat] Home network for a dummy (US "Roadrunner" cable service)

Martin Burns martin at easyweb.co.uk
Wed Nov 5 01:57:53 CST 2003

On 5 Nov 2003, at 02:42, Jorah Lavin wrote:

> At the end of November, I'm moving into a new townhouse (yay!) and 
> will have
> cable internet access for the first time. I have a relatively modern PC
> running Win 2K Professional, my wife has an ancient Mac Quadra,

What version Mac OS is the Quadra running?

> and she will have a PC running Win 98 set up fairly soon after our 
> move.

I'd really, really strongly advise upgrading this to XP if at all 
possible. Not only will it make the networking job easier, your life 
will be much less taken up with sorting out various problems.

> I need to hook all of these computers up to the cable system. My wife 
> called
> the Time Warner cable to get our account set up, and the woman who 
> took the
> call rather snootily (IMHO) told her that she would need a wireless 
> modem to
> hook all of the computers to the cable, which makes no sense to me. 
> I'm not
> interested in a wireless network in my house, and I suspect that I 
> would
> need specialized hardware that wouldn't fit the old PC and the old Mac.

Yeah, you're unlikely to be able to get a WiFi card for the Mac.

> So... I need your help to figure out how I can set up a little LAN, 
> what
> hardware I'd need, etc., so that I can sound like I know what I'm 
> talking
> about when I call these people back.
> The Mac has some sort of network cable that we used to use to network 
> two
> Macs and a printer together, (some sort of Ethernet?? We got the 
> hardware
> for that back in '96)

Yes, it'll have ethernet (Macs have had it forever).

> but neither PC has any sort of network cards.

Right, then that's job number 1 - buy 2 ethernet cards. 10baseT will do 
nicely if your local BestBuy or CompUSA has them, otherwise step up to 

> From "listening in" on discussions on TheList, I suspect that I need to
> network the three machines together somehow, then hook them to a router
> (??!) and then to the cable modem... or does there need to be a 
> firewall box
> in there somewhere?

You need the following things to be happening:
1) Cable Modem that converts the cable signal to ethernet (your cable 
co. probably provides this)

2) Firewall - the very, very first thing inside the cable modem. Even 
if you only have one machine

3) DHCP server - hands out IP addresses to your machines and makes sure 
they all know how to get out of the network, where DNS is and so on. 
Most home DHCP setups hand out IP addresses in ranges reserved for 
private networks so no-one can route directly to your home machines 
except via the router and firewall.

4) Router - translates between your local machines which will have 
private IP addresses and the single IP address that the outside world 
can see, making sure all the data goes to the right place

5) Hub or switch - central point that makes sure data packets don't 
interfere with each other. A switch is better as it makes sure that 
only packets intended for a machine go down its cable, otherwise every 
machine gets everything and the OS has to work out "Ah, data for - that's me. Better listen up"

Does your cable Modem have ethernet out? If so, your life just got very 
simple. Linksys have a very nice combo box that provides:
1) Firewall
2) Router
4) 4-port Switch
I have the 1 port version of this (and recently upgraded from a 
separate hub to a switch) which did me very well in my cable days 
(moved house out of a cable area and now have ADSL).

Now playing on iTunes: "The Great Gig In The Sky" by Kirsty Rock from 
'Dub Side of the Moon' - a hit from way back in 2003

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