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Installing AirPort on an Unsupported Mac

By now, just about everyone and his brother has a wireless network. And the bug is catching... So you want one too! Unfortunately, Apple didn't think about you when they wrote AirPort. Or maybe they did, and they thought they could get you to upgrade by requiring a G3 or better... Well there's good news! The G3 requirement is absolutely artificial! Apple's lying when they say AirPort requires a G3. AirPort works perfectly fine with a 3400c or 2400c. You just have to get it installed...

And that's where this page comes in. AirPort is easy to use, and if you've got a supported computer, it's easy to install. But you don't have a supported computer... Well read on to find out how to install AirPort 1.3.1 on your 3400c or 2400c.

FYI: Although AirPort will work on your 3400c or 2400c, there are still some system requirements you'll have to meet. I'll try to make this as simple as possible... This procedure has only be tested with AirPort 1.3.1 and OS 9 - It should work with OS 8.6, but I can't certify that. And I also cannot certify that this procedure works with AirPort 2.x. Also, even if AirPort will run on your PowerBook, you'll still need a supported wireless card. If your card does not say "WaveLAN" or "ORiNOCO" anywhere on it, then IT WON'T WORK. Even then, some of the newer ORiNOCO cards (specifically, combined 802.11a/b/g cards or CardBus cards) won't work. If you don't meet at least these requirements, do not contact me with questions about this procedure. I'll just delete your email if you do. Also, this procedure does not install the help system, so AirPort help will certainly not work for you after you've completed the installation.

Get The Software
Start by downloading AirPort 1.3.1 from Apple. It can be found here. You'll also need TomeViewer. You can get that from this website. Those are the only tools you need, so you should be good to start "hacking" now.

FYI: The Apple site is a good resource for all sorts of forgotten goodies. Take a look around while you're there. Apple's USB Adapter Card Support can be installed on the 2400c and 3400c to enable USB card support if you install it manually...

Installing AirPort
Mount the AirPort disk image that you downloaded above. If Stuffit Expander didn't automatically do that for you, then double click on the AirPort 1.3.1.smi icon. A new "virtual" disk named AirPort will appear.


Open the AirPort disk. In that window, open the Software Installers folder.

From there, open the AirPort folder.

Now use TomeViewer to open the AirPort Tome file.

If you've already downloaded TomeViewer, you should just be able to double click on the AirPort Tome to open it. If that doesn't work, you can drag the AirPort Tome to TomeViewer's icon to open it. Or you can launch TomeViewer and use the Open menu item in the File menu to open the AirPort Tome. It doesn't really matter how you do it, so long as you manage to open the file. Once you do, you'll get a window that looks a bit like this:

Now, holding down the shift key, select the following:
  • AirPort
  • AirPort Admin Utility
  • AirPort AP
  • AirPort AP Support
  • AirPort Driver
  • AirPort PC Card
  • AirPort Prefs
  • AirPort Scripting
  • TCP/IP Preferences
Having selected all of those, choose Expand... from the Archive menu of TomeViewer. You'll be presented with a series of "save" dialogs (one for each file you are expanding) that look like this:

Expand the AirPort application somewhere logical (like your Applications folder). Do the same with AirPort Admin Utility. Expand AirPort AP, AirPort AP Support, AirPort Driver, and AirPort PC Card to your Extensions folder. Expand AirPort Prefs and TCP/IP Preferences to your Preferences folder. Expand AirPort Scripting to the Scripting Additions folder (found in the System Folder). That should be all you need to get started. The rest of the files in the AirPort Tome are either used by the Help system or are example AppleScripts.

Now all you need to do to use your fancy new software is restart your PowerBook. See, now that wasn't so hard, was it? ;-)

Of course, the software is no good if you don't know how to use it. The first thing to try is to see if you card is recognized as an AirPort PC Card. Insert your wireless card. It should appear on the desktop having the name AirPort PC Card and show the following icon.

If that doesn't happen, then either you didn't install AirPort correctly or your card isn't supported. Assuming it did work correctly, you'll now want to open your AirPort application to set up your network connection. Having opened the AirPort application, you'll see a window something like this:

In that window, pick your network's name from the Choose network: menu. My network's name is "AlkSoft", so that's the network I picked. Every base station has a manner of set up. This page won't help you to configure your base station - you'll have to read the manual for that.

If your network uses WEP encryption like mine, you'll be asked for the password now. For AirPort base stations, this password can be entered in as you would enter any other password. If you're using a 3rd party base station, you'll need the hex key. Preceed the hex key with "0x" (the 0x tells AirPort that the password you are entering is hex and not regular text).

If you entered the password correctly (or your network doesn't require a password), your AirPort window will now look something like this:

Now that you're connected, the last step is to set up TCP/IP to use the wireless network. That's pretty easy: Just open your TCP/IP control panel and set Connect via: to AirPort PC Card. The rest of the settings are the traditional TCP/IP settings - most likely you'll pick Using DHCP Server and let them be configured by your base station.

Now you're done! Sit back on your lawn chair with a good margarita or cold beer, and enjoy wireless Internet access on your unsupported PowerBook in your back yard! Enjoy! I know I do...


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