Wireless Networking Options for Older Macs

Saturday, December 11th, 2004 @ 1:24 am | Mac

Lately, I’ve been inspired to get religious about backing up my data. Up until now, my policy has been “make a copy of stuff when I remember.” Suffice it to say, that policy has cost me some data over the years.

For the past few years, I’ve been completely laptop-based. This has been an impediment to setting up an automated backup regime — I just know I’ll eventually forget to connect my laptop to the backup drive before I call it a night.

I’m thinking that the best plan might be to use my beige G3 as a backup server. Unfortunately, my current abode doesn’t offer much in terms of connectivity — the cable modem connects to the router, which in turn connects to the TiVo, the PS2, and the Airport Express. Since I have no desire to have a backup server in the middle of my living room, it seems like wireless is the way to go.

It turns out there aren’t a lot of official options for getting a pre-Airport Mac on a wireless network. The first thing I considered was an Ethernet-to-802.11g bridge, such as the Linksys WET54G. I didn’t realize these devices sold at an excess of $100. At that price, I might as well buy another Airport Express and have wireless music in two rooms.

My next stops were MacWireless and MacSense. The latter offered a USB to 802.11b adapter for $80. The former offered a 802.11g PCI card for $100, a USB to 802.11b adapter for $120, and Ethernet-to-802.11g bridge for for $160. Um, can you say rip-off?

The only officially-support and reasonable price wireless solution I could find the D-Link DWL-122 USB to 802.11b adapter, which retails for $45.00.

Unofficial support, though, is another story. A lucky Google search led me to the Wireless Devices and Mac OS Compatibility page. Man oh man, this page is a gold mine.

From this page, I continued on to OrangeWare web site, where they sell an OS X driver for Atheros-based wireless cards (some of which are listed on the OrangeWare web site, more of which are listed of the previously mentioned Wireless Devices page). The OrangeWare driver sells for $15 and it looks like I can pick up a compatible PCI card for under $40.

Granted, this isn’t nearly as nice as running down to CompUSA and grabbing the cheapest wireless card on the shelf, but it’s certainly more palatable than shelling out an additional $35 simply for the enjoyment of purchasing a similar card from a company with “Mac” in the name, right? Normally, I’m all for supporting companies that support the Mac, but I draw the line when it looks like they’s trying to price-gouge.

Some more links related to backups and networking:

2 Responses to “Wireless Networking Options for Older Macs”

  1. Thomas Says:

    $36 at WalMart or $49 at RadioShack: a Motorola PCI card (the WPCI810) which will fit into your Beige G3 and is supported by the normal Apple Airport Express drivers.

    See http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/tips/MSMN-730airportMods.html

  2. Eric Blair Says:

    Thomas,

    Thanks for the pointer. I haven’t been to xlr8yourmac in the longest time.

    There were a few Airport compatible cards listed on the Wireless Driver compatibility page I mentioned and I should have noted that in my writeup. My concern about these cards is that the beige G3 wasn’t an Airport-supported system, so I was concerned about whether the Airport-driven cards would be usable.

    I’ll look into it a bit more and post an update if I find anything.