In my previous post about Linux from scratch I mentioned that the WiFi hardware on that particular model had less than ideal support. The laptop in question is going to be useful for me in my astrophotography project I’m working on, but I need to find some way of getting Internet access for the initial setup and software installation. Once it’s set up I’ll have no need for Internet, barring any software updates I might need to install. So, how do I get a computer on the ‘Net when it’s WiFi is unusable?

The obvious solution here is to ignore WiFi, and use an Ethernet cable direct to my router. This is less than ideal, because my router is in an inconvenient location, and I don’t want to have to spend money on a cable long enough to make it convenient. The whole point of my astrophotography project is to make something usable out of the various bits and pieces I have at hand, and not spend any money.

With that in mind, I looked at what other stuff I had available, and remembered I have a couple of Apple Airport base stations that are no longer being used. One of these is a 2nd generation Airport Express which has both a WAN and LAN Ethernet port. Perhaps if I was lucky I could configure it to extend my home WiFi, and then connect the laptop to the LAN port for usable Internet.

Of course, I could have researched this and found out for sure, but it’s way more fun just to mess around and find out. So, I went to configure the Airport Express, and realised I no longer have a Mac computer to configure it from. Crap. Then I remembered that there is an iOS app for configuring Airport base stations, score!

Configuration was easier than I expected, and I soon had the Express on the WiFi network. The only thing left to do was see if I could get Internet access on the laptop. I grabbed an Ethernet cable, plugged it in, and boom, I had Internet. So, with a bit of old kit that I no longer used I gave my essentially WiFi-less laptop WiFi. Sure, I still have to use a cable, but I can use the laptop anywhere there’s a power cord, rather than standing next to my router.