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Airport Express and Linksys WRT45G router

I fell for another one of those cute little Apple gadgets yesterday, an Airport Express. I bought it primarily to extend the range of my existing wireless network, but I also bought the cable pack so that I can use the Express to pipe music from iTunes to my stereo.

I had assumed that the "extend the range of my Airport wireless network" feature would work with Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband router right out of the box, but I was wrong. I hate it when that happens, but after much cursing and gnashing of teeth I found an answer. I found an Airport Express review on Arstechnica that indicated that the WRT54G would work, as long as I upgraded to a hacked open source version of the router firmware and learned how to us WDS (wireless distribution system). Then I found the open source firmware, had a bad run-in with some poorly written instructions, and then finally found a set of instructions that worked for me. For future reference, here are the details:

First, I downloaded and installed the Sveasoft Satori v4.0 WRT54G firmware on my router. Next I followed the instructions below (found in the foruns at http://www.xlr8yourmac.com):
  • Plug in, reset (push button with paperclip for >5 seconds), and attach the Airport Express (AX) to an Ethernet port on my (Linksys) WRT54G.
  • Run Airport Admin Utility (AAU) - make sure it's the latest version - installed from the CD that came with the AX. My WRT54G gave the AX an IP address (it's set to use DHCP). The default AX password is "public" (no quotes).
  • From Safari, go to and log into the WRT54G (default login is blank, and password is "admin"), and display the channel (11), SSID, wireless MAC address (which differs by one hex digit from the LAN and WAN MAC addresses), in the format: 00:0c:41:5f:19:6e. I'm using WEP 128, so I copy the WEP key, too.
  • Then, in AAU:
    Airport (tab) - select Create a Wireless Network, enter the SSID (from the WRT54G) as the Network Name, set the channel to match (channel 11). Click Security and enter "$" followed by my WEP key. Enter it again in the Verify box.
  • Next click on Internet (tab) - select Connect Using Airport (WDS), type in the wireless MAC address from the WRT54G, and then check Allow Wireless Clients. (I want to allow them but have not yet tested this.)
  • Click Network (tab) - and uncheck Distribute IP Addresses.
  • Click the WDS (tab) - and check Enable This Base Station as WDS, and select Remote Base Station. Check Allow Wireless Clients. Again, confirm that the MAC address is filled in with the wireless MAC address of the WRT54G.
  • Click Music (tab) - and check Enable Airtunes on this Base Station. Give a name to the location where the AX will be deployed (near my home theater room), like "Home Theater."
  • Now click on Update to load this configuration into the AX.
    The Ethernet cable from the WRT54G port is then disconnected, and I unplug the AX, move it near my destination (room with home theater/stereo, 70 feet away and upstairs). After a minute, the AX resets and light stays green. This is good!

Thanks for your instructions but I seem to be having a problem. My AE's light is flashing orange after I unhook it from the WRT54G. Shouldn't there be some WDS settings on the Linksys Setup? Could this be the problem? Or could it be that I have not entered the correct wireless MAC address? Is this the address which is on the label beneath the WRT54G?

Posted by Vijay Chandran on October 04, 2004 at 03:48 PM EDT #

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