wireless advice


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 5, 2007
Hi Folks--I just got a new Macbook and want to go wireless at home; browse internet, and also print wireless. I don't need to stream itunes. So is it APexpress, or a Linksys WRT54G (used to have one for PC, and it was great.)for me. Thanks! p.s. I have embarq DSL at home.


macrumors member
Aug 22, 2007
Los Angeles, Ca.
I 3rd Linksys, but advise to opt for the WRT54GL and download 3rd party firmware. (DD-WRT, Tomato, Thibor). The WRT54G that are selling now in stores are not the same as prior models.


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 5, 2007
Thanks for for info! I forgot to mention that my printer is USB, not wireless. I need to see if I can just plug printer into router via USB without any extra interface. How are the newer routers (WRT54GL) different, and what are the advantages/purpose of downloading 3rd party firmware?


macrumors 603
Apr 29, 2005
San Francisco
You want the printer to be connected to the router? Oh.
Well you won't be able to do that with the Linksys (I'm not 100% on that), but you can plug the printer into any computer on the wireless network and share it that way.
The advantages of 3rd party firmware are many, but the important things to most people are:

1. The replacement firmware (particularly DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and those based on them) are Open Source.

2. Most of the routers out there are capable of doing more than what the commercial firmware they come with gives you access to.

3. Any number of these "extra" capabilities are of use to many people, even though naturally there are many more "extras" that the average person might never need. But then, look at what your computer can do "in total" vs. what you might ever use it for yourself.

4. Generally speaking, because of the inherent peer-review and publicly-accessible nature of Open Source software, you tend to get a more stable, secure and robust (that is, feature-filled) product as a result.

I have a WRT54G v5, which is in many ways a lesser version of the WRT54GL router suggested above. It's lesser in RAM, on-board flashable ROM, etc. However, in putting DD-WRT on it, I still benefit because of the better stability and greater feature set.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend any Linksys product, except perhaps the GL version of their routers, mostly because of the reduced RAM/ROM capacity (the reduced RAM contributes to more frequent out-of-memory related crashes) but also because generally their products are not as stable overall as they used to be, particularly before Cisco acquired Linksys.

I've heard a lot of very good things about Buffalo's WHR-HP-G54 units, and there are others, but what you'd do well to do instead of just listening to us here at MacRumors.com prattle on about routers is to go to DD-WRT's Supported Devices page, because amongst other things it will tell you two very important things:
  1. Which routers are ranked better than others by users such as yourself;
  2. What the specs of each known router are, so you can make a better, more educated purchasing decision even if you choose not to flash your new router over to DD-WRT.

I am a technologically savvy person; nevertheless like anyone else I seek to do things the smart way, not the hard way, and I have found that by putting the DD-WRT firmware on my router, I am able to administrate my home network a LOT easier than I might be able to do otherwise.
Now, as for network printer sharing, there's some things you should know.

You can share a "local" printer (that is, one which is not inherently networkable, such as one with only a USB port) in one of three ways, each of which has it's downsides.

1. Connect it to a computer and share it from there. The downsides are that computer then serves as the "host" for the printer, and must be on whenever you want to print to that printer. This is a waste of power, and frankly I find it to be aesthetically disagreeable insofar as you would have to keep turning the computer in question on -- then off again -- whenever you wanted to print.

2. You can connect the printer to a USB <-> Ethernet bridge (some of these units are actually wireless). The trade-off here is that the printer's identity is lost, and often times you will not have access to the entire featureset of the printer (such as scanning, faxing, printed image enhancing capabilities, etc.)

3. You can buy a A/B, A/B/C, A/B/C/D, etc. type USB switch box. The downsides are that you're not really "sharing" the printer as much as you are making more convenient the process of connecting/disconnecting the printer amongst multiple computers; and also you will have to be able to reach the switchbox every time you want to use the printer on a different computer. Moreover, you have to run USB cabling to every computer you intend to have "access" to this printer, and this may be problematic for computers located at remote points in your home.

Nevertheless, even with their detractors, each of these are options to you.

If you really want to do this the right way, your best option (though it would be the most expensive) is to simply buy a networkable printer. Many of these types of printers are also inherently wireless, too, thus saving you the trouble of running any wires, save those for basic services (power, telco, etc.) And other than the cost as a downside, all of the previously-mentioned "downsides" are completely eliminated by networkable printers.

Good luck!