Linksys router + ZyXEL DSL modem = suck

Linksys Router I was excited to finally upgrade to DSL from dial-up. Before I got home I went ahead and bought the Linksys WRT54GS. My laptop only has an 802.11b wireless card but I figured I’d be prepared for the future while I’m at it. I did some brief research and checked reviews of this particular model. I’d helped my girlfriend and her roomates set up their older 802.11b Linksys router and I liked the interface. So I went ahead and spent high dollar (approximately $90).

I got home and plugged it in between the DSL router and the old iMac in the office. Suddenly I no longer had internet on the iMac. I could, however, bring up the admin page for the router. For some reason the internet specifically wasn’t coming through. I spent some time fiddling with the ip addresses and later called my ISP for help and they suggested changing the default ip address to in order to avoid any conflict with the ip address of the DSL modem. I tried that with no success. At one point I was even able to bring up the admin page of the DSL router through the Linksys, but internet remained unavailable.

All of this could be due to a lack of knowledge on my part, but I don’t think a router should be this complicated for such an expected setup. I just wonder what someone less technically savvy would do in this situation. The Linksys is very Windows-specific. The setup CD included will walk you through setting it up apparently. The instructions say to just put the CD in and let it take care of itself. Unfortunately, this is strictly for Windows. There’s a pdf in there but it wasn’t much help. The older Linksys router that I mentioned above actually had a paper manual with some generally helpful information about ip troubleshooting and more.

In an attempt to better understand my situation I unpacked my slightly older D-Link router (not wireless) and plugged it into the same situation that the Linksys was in. I let the DHCP reconfigure itself on the router and the iMac and then I immediately had internet. Everything just worked. This did not include any setup whatsoever. It looked like different hardware might be the solution. The Linksys’s wireless worked great, I had a strong signal down in the basement and everything. Just the detail of actually getting internet to pass through the router didn’t work. I think this may be a unique problem having to do with the way the ZyXEL modem and Linksys router interact as unlikely as that would seem.

My hardware setup is unusual (original iMac running OSX 10.3.9 and an old laptop running Ubuntu 5.1), but TCP/IP and the wireless protocols are standards that are not proprietary, so that isn’t an issue as much as the tech-dorks at the stores would like to convince me otherwise. Fortunately Staples accepts returns and in my agitation I most likely told them more than they cared to know about my situation. Now I have a Belkin in my car that I hope will ‘just work’ (especially since it cost $50 less than the Linksys). I’ll update this comment with the outcome.

5 thoughts on “Linksys router + ZyXEL DSL modem = suck”

  1. The Belkin router works like a champ. The wireless signal strength is the same as the Linksys for my setup and the internet is coming through it as well. Not that it’s a surprise, but the Belkin came with a CD sporting not only a Windows walk-through setup program but also one for OSX and OS9. Belkin produces a lot of iPod gadgets so it really is no surprise that they are more aware of the Macintosh operating systems. On the otherhand, I don’t see what the setup application does that DHCP can’t do on its own. For most home use routers running DHCP is perfect. The only setting that is completely necessary is the setup of the Wireless Security.

  2. Howya,
    Just spent several hours over the weekend with what sounds like a very similar problem. I have a Zyxel and a Dell router at home which work together easily but I’m trying to sort out a problem for a friend who has Zyxel modem and a LinkSys WRT54G. They seem absolutely determined not to talk to each other. Couldn’t even see the config page for the modem through the router as you seem to have done.
    I’ll post if I get any solution -would appreciate any update you might have.
    Good Luck!

  3. I actually added a comment to my own post (still figuring out this web log business) saying that I had returned the Linksys for a Belkin wireless router. The Belkin worked of course, even though it cost $40 less. It’s pretty easy to set up and I can’t say that I even learned anything about ip addresses and routers. Hopefully your friend can return the router or at least try another router in the same situation to confirm that the Linksys is the problem.

  4. Jason, Thanks for your help over the phone last night. I finally did get my Linksys Wireless-G router working. I called Alltel (now Windstream) and after a couple minutes of not getting anywhere the fellow on the line told me I needed to call Linksys (800-326-7114). I called Linksys and this kind lady from the Philippines took me through it step my step. If I was a little bit more clueless I don’t think she could have helped me, since the Linksys people were not specifically trained to help with Mac problems (which she told me from the beginning). She would give me vague direction and I would have to figure out how to do it on a Mac.

    So Jason and I were unable to get both my Internet connection and my Wireless working at the same time (am I saying this correctly Jason?). So she had me reset my router in the very beginning. She had my hold in the reset button for an entire minute. Once I had done that, she had me unplug the router from the power cord. Once we got this figured out she had me go into the admin site via “” Instead of setting it up as DHCP (which is still what my computer TCP/IP is setup as) she had me select PPoE. She then had me put in my Alltel User Name and Password. Then she had me save settings and everything seemed to work fine.

    So tonight I went into the Linksys admin page again to setup my password etc. I though I might as well change the Time Zone to Central which is what I am in. After I hit “Save Settings” I lost my internet again. Once I changed it back to Pacific, everything was fine again. I’m not sure what the deal was with that, but I guess I won’t mess with it.

    Thanks for all the help Jason. I probably wouldn’t have known what the Linksys lady was talking about at all if I hadn’t talked to you first. At the very least I have a better understanding of how wireless routers work.

  5. Bennett,

    Thanks for adding your experience to my post. I’m glad to help.

    However, what we discussed that night are characteristics of how routers in general work. Wireless is just an add on. The wireless technologies are not simple by any means, but a little understanding on the consumer’s part makes using wireless fairly simple. I think the only aspect of wireless that we spoke of would be the two common methods of securing a wireless network: WEP and WPA. WPA is the newest that works with 802.11G and from what I understand is uncrackable aside from a direct ‘dictionary’ assault (in other words, figuring out the password with a computer program). WEP is apparently very easy to crack with the right tools. However, if you have a 802.11B router or wireless card this is your only option. Check out Security Now! or for some great podcasts on computer security. For wireless security listen to episodes 10 and 11.

Comments are closed.