Linksys WRT54G, Airport Express, and WDS

I am apparently several months behind on this, but I have finally determined that the latest revision of the Linksys WRT54G supports WDS right out of the box, and it’s compatible with the AirPort Express.

I had expected to spend the weekend putting third-party firmware on my new router to enable Wireless Distribution System, which the AirPort Express uses to extend a wireless network wirelessly. The Linksys documentation makes no mention of WDS, so I assumed it was still not supported. As it turns out, no third-party firmware is needed, because Linksys quietly implemented WDS as an undocumented feature in their own firmware earlier this year.

The recipe calls for all stations participating in WDS to be on the same channel, with the same SSID and the same encryption settings. With older firmware, you may be restricted to 128-bit WEP, but with the newer firmware for each device you can use WPA Personal or leave encryption off altogether.

The following instructions are for enabling WEP, for those of you who may need it. If you won’t be using WEP, just be sure your encryption settings are the same on both the Linksys and the Express. If you’re already using WPA or no encryption, you can skip this part. The rest of this document will discuss the procedure as if you’re using WEP, because WEP is known to work for all routers capable of doing this at all.

To configure your WRT54G to use 128-bit WEP, first make sure you’re connected via Ethernet to your router to minimize hassle. If that’s not an option, make careful note of your WEP key during the following procedure. You (and everyone else connected) will have to reconnect to your wireless network with your new WEP key after you click “Save Settings.”

  1. Open the Linksys web-based admin utility. This link will probably work if your router is still in its default state.
  2. Click the Wireless tab, followed by the Wireless Security tab.
  3. Set “Security Mode” to “WEP”
  4. Set “Default Transmit Key” to “1″
  5. Set “WEP Encryption” to “128 bits 26 hex digits”
  6. Set “Passphrase” to something clever, then click “Generate”
  7. Make a note of the value inserted into the “Key 1″ field. Write it down by hand if you must. This beast is your new network password.
  8. Click “Save Settings”
  9. Click “Continue” at the “Settings Successful” screen. Leave this window open, we’ll be coming back to it shortly.

The security settings are all that will likely need to change. Any functional configuration of the WRT54G should suffice. WDS configuration on the router side is fully automatic.

The AirPort Express is where most of the configuration happens. For the following steps, you’ll want both AirPort Admin Utility and the WRT54G’s configuration page open, so that you can copy details from one to the other. You should also give your AirPort Express a factory reset, especially if you’ve already been futzing with this for a while. After giving it a factory reset, connect it via Ethernet directly to your WRT54G temporarily to prevent disruptions during setup; when you’re finished, you can put it back in the living room.

In the AirPort Admin Utility, under the AirPort tab:

  1. Set “Wireless Mode” to “Create a Wireless Network (Home Router)”
  2. Set “Name” to match the WRT54G’s “Wireless Network Name” (under “Wireless” > “Basic Wireless Settings” in the Linksys admin)
  3. Click “Change Wireless Security”
  4. Set “Wireless Security” to “WEP”
  5. In the “Network Password” field, enter a dollar sign ($) followed by the value for the WRT54G’s “Key 1″ (under “Wireless” > “Wireless Security” in the Linksys admin). Do it again in the “Verify Password” field.
  6. “Encryption Type” should set itself automatically to “128 bit WEP” based on the password. If not, try re-entering the passwords. You should be putting in something like “$AE5F74B05B23239C2861A48AFE”
  7. Click “OK” to close the Wireless Security window. Click “Continue” to dismiss the nagalog.
  8. Set “Channel” to match the WRT54G’s “Wireless Channel” (under “Wireless” > “Basic Wireless Settings” in the Linksys admin)
  9. Set the rest of the options under the AirPort tab as appropriate for your network.

Under the Internet tab:

  1. Set “Connect Using” to “AirPort (WDS)”
  2. Set “MAC Address” to the WRT54G’s wireless MAC address (under “Status” > “Wireless” in the Linksys admin). It is very important to get the MAC address for the “Wireless” interface on the router, not the “Router” or “Local Network” addresses.
  3. Check “Also allow wireless client computers”
  4. Set “Configure” to “Using DHCP”

Under the Network tab, un-check “Distribute IP addresses”

Under the WDS tab, confirm the following:

  • “Enable this base station” is checked and set to “remote base station”
  • “Allow wireless clients on this base station” is checked
  • “Main AirPort ID is set to the wireless MAC address of the WRT54G

Under the Music tab, set the options as appropriate for your network.

When you’ve finished all of this, click “Update.” The configuration will be applied to your AirPort Express and it will reboot. It should come back up with a nice green light, at which point you can unplug it from the wall and your router, and return it to its location in your living room. When it powers up in there, it should get a green light again, and you’re done!

Documentation from Linksys on this is non-existent. The only reason to suspect that the WRT54G has been endowed with WDS support comes from different Linksys products, including the Wireless Range Expander and the WAP54G. It just so happens that these use WDS and 128-bit WEP behind the scenes, and sure enough, the WRT54G and WRT54GS are listed as being compatible. Putting two and two together, it’s not hard to make the AirPort Express behave similarly, which is what we’ve done here.

I’m thrilled not to have to deal with third party firmware for this. As much fun as it sounds, the fact is that the alternative firmware available for these routers doesn’t support my hardware revision, and I don’t have the funds to support bricking lots of routers as I try things out. But beyond that, I’m impressed that the WRT54G supports WDS without so much as a configuration screen.

Next on my list: finding an Ethernet device or two to plug into my new AirPort Express-powered switch in the living room.

Originally published September 6, 2005.


January 9, 2006

I’ve upgraded the firmware on my revision 3 router to version 4.20.7, as high as is officially supported. While WPA doesn’t seem to work under this arrangement, 128-bit WEP is no longer required. WDS works just as well now with no security set up at all. To use this configuration, just select “None” or “Disabled” when you’d otherwise have selected “WEP” in the instructions above and skip the details for configuring WEP.

My hardware doesn’t support version 5 of the firmware as far as I know, so I have no news about its compatibility with the AirPort Express. Anyone who has a revision 3 router who cares to try the 5.0 line of firmware, feel free to contact me if you have any success.


May 17, 2006

A reader reports that WPA now works with the latest revisions of the firmware. See comments below for details.

135 Responses to “Linksys WRT54G, Airport Express, and WDS”

  1. tym53208 Says:

    Thank you so very much for this information!!! I now have my (2) Airport Express’s configured and working appropriately to extend my network, as you promised. And I can still play music through the devices. Too bad more of those WRT54G users out there haven’t found your solution. No need for any third-party firmware upgrades. And, I noticed that Apple now has WPA2 Personal and Enterprise support with their Airport Update 4.2 (Airport Express v6.2). That will be the next thing to play with!!

    Once again, thanks for your ingenuity!!

  2. tym53208 Says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention – the part about adding a “$” before the WEP key didn’t work for me. with 128-bit encryption, The key is 26 characters long. If I try to add the “$”, my Airport Express won’t take it – it’s too long of a key. I simply used the key as it was in the router and it worked without any errors. If there is some compelling reason to use the “$”, please let us know. You might also add to your information the firmware version you are using on the WRT54G.


  3. John Says:

    I’ve had another report about the dollar sign. I’m guessing it’s a factor of the different software versions between Windows and MacOS systems for the Airport Admin Utility. On the Mac, the dollar sign sets what kind of key it is automatically, and there has been a long history of inconsistency on when and where to use it. So if you find it doesn’t work with the dollar sign, it’s safe to leave it out; just be sure the options properly indicate that you’re using a hexadecimal WEP key of 128 bits.

    My WRT54G is hardware revision 3, with firmware v3.03.9, Apr. 27, 2005. My understanding is that the WDS feature has been available since sometime in spring 2005, and so any recent router should work.

    Glad the column is useful. Thanks for the feedback!

  4. jon Says:

    So… Which is the client in this setup? I have my airport connected to the cable modem, and wish to extend it with my linksys in another room…

  5. John Says:

    The client in this setup is the AirPort Express. The Linksys router doesn’t provide the controls to set it up as a WDS “client” … the hidden feature we’re using is intended for behind-the-scenes support of other Linksys products. It’s indended that the Linksys router be the primary access point in this arrangement.

    You’d have to swap your Linksys and your Airport Express in order to set this up, making the Linksys your access point and the Airport Express a remote. The Airport Express will not route “up” from the ethernet port to the wireless network when in WDS mode.

  6. Kamran Says:

    Wow! This really works. I also did not use the $ sign in front of the password. Thanks so much for this information, I can’t see any other way to get this working. It’s a bummer Apple doesn’t make this information more availalbe, AirTunes is a very cool product.

  7. spike Says:

    When saying you do or do not use the dollar sign…is that a mac/win thing? do you use it on one and not the other? please specify the platform this is a problem on.

    Haven’t started the set up yet, so wish me luck! thanks for posting this.

  8. spike Says:

    ROCK ON!!! Thank you for posting these. It works like a charm!! I have my win xp machine, powerbook and wired g4 all sharing printer and speakers through the express. And it was super easy to set up. I didn’t try the 3rdparty firmware cause I was a bit nervous about voding my warranty with linksys, I’m very glad to have found a simpler solution.

    BTW: I didn’t use the dollar sign when entering the WEP password on any of my machines. On my win xp machine I have a netgear card that generated the key from the passphrase. On the powerbook, I just pasted in what was in the router settings.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. John Says:

    The dollar sign is optional on the Mac and may be optional on certain Windows systems. If it doesn’t work one way, just try it the other. The requirement for a dollar sign in front of the WEP key depends on your plaftorm and the version of Airport Admin Utility you’re using. If it doesn’t work one way, just try it the other.

  10. Dave Says:

    Must you use WEP? I know it may sound odd; but, with MAC address authentication and a non-broadcasted SSID, I don’t feel the need to use WEP or WPA (since all the PCs have software firewalls that will deny anonymous incoming requests anyway)…

  11. John Says:

    It’s an unsupported feature, and Linksys has decided WEP is how it will work. If you want anything else, take it up with them.

  12. Sten Says:

    Hey Dave.
    I will recomend you to listen to the poscast “Security Now” or on the webbside and then you will understand that MAC address authentication and a non-broadcasted SSID is not att all secure.

  13. Devin Says:

    Just wanted to drop you a note and say thanks! I’ve got my Airport express set up in the living room powering my Xbox, Tivo, and Dreamcast connected to the Linksys wrt54gs! And I did it without having to shell out money for the Sveasoft firmware! :D


  14. » Airport Express + Linksys WRT54G Says:

    [...] You don’t need all that – THIS is the guide to get. [...]

  15. Dave Dawson Says:

    Hi! Trying this with a WRT54G v5, latest firmware – no go :-( The AX goes green for some 2 seconds, then back to flashing yellow. Tried from factory reset, with & without WEP – no dice.

    Airport v 62. firmware on the AX.

    It is something with the new router, or?? Any help gratefully received…!
    thanks, Dave

  16. John Says:

    I have heard other comments about the new v.5 firmware causing problems. I’ll check on it when I get a chance.

  17. Dave Dawson Says:

    OK, tried with a different network name – green light. But it seems to operate in an unstable fashion. Works for a while connected to the new network name, then if I switch back – no dice :-(. Can connect, no throughput. Will scout about see what I can find. I have seen no other v5 reports yet. Appreciate anything you can find! best, Dave

  18. wil Says:

    Works like a charm; saved me hours of headache. Thanks!

  19. lauren Says:

    Any insight as to whether or not this would work with a wrtp54g? (Note the “p” in the model numer.) This is the linksys version of the same router with a voip functionality.

  20. Fernando Says:

    Dear all, if I buy two brand new WRT54G and connect them wirelessly, would the WDS work? I need this to share an internet connection with my neighboor, which is in the same building, 3 stories down, and he is the one with the cable internet. I intend to install one in his apartment and one in my apartment, using the second WRT54G as a range extender. Thanks for your help!

  21. John Says:

    Lauren, I couldn’t say. All I can suggest would be to try it. My guess is, it would work, but newer firmware may remove this support.

    Fernando, this is about using an Airport Express to extend the range of a WRT54G. Two WRT54G’s can’t be linked as you describe with the linksys firmware; as I mentioned in the write-up, there isn’t even interface with which to configure WDS on these routers. If you want a range extender, buy a range extender, or consider using an Airport Express as detailed above.

  22. Ricky Says:

    My sister is at College and i want to know if the airport express will work the way it should by plugging it into her wall.

    I’m guessing the correct answer is that i will have to get her the linksys router, but i just wanted to make sure. thanks.


  23. John Says:

  24. Ricky Says:

    Thanks for the response John. I guess I’m not very smart because I was actually looking at that page trying to figure it out before i posted here. I guess i just wanted the easy way out. :) Anyway, I called APPLE and they said it will work by itself at a college dorm room/apartment. At least that is what they told me.

  25. chad lindstrom’s blog » Blog Archive » AirPort Express vs Roku Soundbridge Says:

    [...] So, after about 15 minutes of staring blankly at the AirPort Admin Utility, I resorted – as we usually do – to ‘asking the internet’. Unfortunately, the first resource I found wasn’t nearly as accurate or helpful as the second. [...]

  26. tj Says:

    dave … i had the same exact problem as you until i tried something a little different. in the airport admin utility, under the “airport” tab, instead of selecting “create a wireless network,” select “join an existing wireless network” and just put in the appropriate network name. after doing so, i was able to stream music wirelessly via itunes to the airport express.

  27. John Says:

    Note that by selecting Join a wireless network, you’re disabling WDS and therefore not extending your range. The Airport Express is just behaving like a laptop at this point. In fact, it has nothing to do with WDS, and it’s well documented in the manual.

  28. Rich Says:

    I have a Linksys WRT54GS with fw ver 4.71.1. I just applied your procedure to my AE only I left my WPA-personal encryption settings in place. I had previously been using the AE as a means to stream itunes music to my living room speakers from my Win XP PC and was using the WPA settings with that setup. It works perfectly and has increased the signal strength on my laptop at the other end of my house from previously 2 bars to 4 bars. Thanks to all on this great info. I was about to go purchase a linksys repeater but don’t need to now.

  29. John Says:

    Thanks for the news and the compliments! It’s good to know even WPA is working now.

  30. dave Says:

    Thanks! I had flashed my WRT54G to a DD-WRT third party firmware because I thought I had to in order to get WDS (I read it on the internet, go figure). Then, later, I couldn’t connect to the Linksys anymore. I flashed to the most currect rev of the Linksys firmware for the WRT54G rev3.

    I then followed your directions and I am now able to stream ITunes from my XP PC upstairs to my basement stereo via the Airport Express, and my Linksys router works and Linksys will take my support calls again!

  31. John Says:

    Does this work with wrt54g version 5?

  32. John Says:

    My guess is that it will, as the instructions for the other Linksys products that use this feature don’t specify specific revisions of WRT54G with which they work. I don’t have the hardware to test with, though.

    Anyone with a version 5 wrt54g care to chime in?

  33. John Says:

    thanks for the quick reply. Personally I am having trouble setting it up.

  34. Olaf Says:

    Well, i was able to set up AirPort Express as WDS Remote. But then the ethernet port is dead. Did you acutally ever try connecting an ethernet device on that port? I believe you were going to:

    “Next on my list: finding an Ethernet device or two to plug into my new AirPort Express-powered switch in the living room.”

    Please let me know if you have been successful…

  35. John Says:

    I did try using the Ethernet port, and it did work. Generally, if the Ethernet port isn’t activated, then the Airport Express hasn’t been able to establish a WDS connection and is instead just acting as a wireless client.

    Check your settings. Be sure the Ethernet port hasn’t been explicitly disabled in the Airport Admin Utility — it’s a new option in recent versions of the Airport utility. While you’re in there, double-check that WDS is selected as the connection method, and set the Airport Express to use the same wireless channel as the router.

    It may be that your Ethernet device or cable is faulty, rather than the Airport Express. Depending on your equipment, you might need a “crossover cable” to connect the Airport to your switch or computer or whatever. Try swapping the cable or connecting to a different device.

    You might also have a bad port on the Airport Express itself. Try configuring it as a base station, connecting to your router via the Ethernet port just to be sure that port is working at all.

    It’s almost 100% guaranteed that the Ethernet port will be activated if WDS is successfully activated. This definitely works without special trickery. It sounds like you just need to be sure all the settings are correct and that you have functional hardware.

  36. John Says:

    Did whatever you connected to the through the ethernet get internet access? As it stands, I cannot get the ethernet to work my express during wds. I am not sure whether I am setting something wrong, or v5 of the wrt54g is just a no go. I am trying to get my Xbox 360 on the internet via the Airport express, but it fails the ip adress test, and when my labtop is connected to the express, it says it doesnt have an ip adress to access the internet.

  37. John Says:

    Clients connected via the ethernet port become a part of the whole network. They should get an IP address from your WRT54G. Be sure the Airport Express is set *not* to distribute IP addresses.

    Your Express and your WRT54G should be using the same SSID and WiFi channel. You shouldn’t be able to select one or the other; the computer will pick the one with the strongest signal automatically. Also, be sure the devices are within range of each other. The range for WDS is somewhat shorter than for normal clients.

    It may help to reset your Airport Express to its factory defaults and begin again following the instructions.

    Good luck!

  38. Olaf Says:

    Hey John, thanks for you quick reply. And yes, you nailed it: It was the cable. I was testing the port with my notebook and it would not work because I was not using a crossed cable. So now it works perfectly.

    FYI: My WRT54G is version 3.1. Few days from now (when I move into my new appartment) I will try to make it to work with version 5. I don’t know why it should not work, but I will let you know if it does…

  39. Jeremy Says:

    Question for you guys. I followed the above instructions and can play music when the express is connected via ethernet to my linksys. When I unplug the ethernet from the airport express to go wireless, in itunes, airport express indicates connecting… but then my itunes locks up. For some reason, it is not allowing wireless only via ethernet port.

    Help???? Thanks in advance.

  40. John Says:

    It sounds like your Express is in Base Station mode, either by setting or by fallback. Make sure it’s connecting in WDS mode. If you’re not trying to use WDS, your issue’s outside the scope of this discussion. The objective of these instructions is to enable you to connect your Airport Express *wirelessly* to your Linksys *and* to have it act as a base station “repeater” … you shouldn’t have an ethernet cable between the two if you’re going through the above procedure, except during initial setup.

    Try again running through the instructions, and be sure to disconnect the ethernet cable before you reboot the Express. If you can’t get it up in WDS mode, come back with your questions.

  41. Jeremy Says:

    Thanks John, please entertain patience as I think I am close to this. Having a party on Sunday and need this wireless hookup. Indeed, I am trying to use WDS. I’ve followed the directions above. I have some confusion on when I should be using the ethernet connection. I kept it connected through the entire setup and have it connected now. When I disconnect ethernet, itunes is not picking up my wireless connection. Not sure what step you are referring to when you say to disconnect ethernet before rebooting the express?

    Thanks much for your assistance.

  42. John Says:

    The idea is to connect via ethernet for the purpose of the configuration, since you’ll be messing with wireless settings and you won’t be able to stay connected to it wireless. Once you’re finished with the Express setup and you’ve clicked Update and the Express is rebooting, that’s when you disconnect the ethernet. When it reboots, it should scan for your wireless network and establish a connection. If you leave ethernet connected, it’ll pick up ethernet first and it won’t go to WDS.

  43. Jeremy Says:

    I redid the above instructions for the Express. During the reboot, when I unplug the ethernet, it just blinks yellow. It’s still not finding the wireless link.

  44. John Says:

    That’s a bummer. All I can suggest is to try some of the things discussed here in the comments. Try without encryption, make sure the SSID and wireless channel match, and all of that.

  45. Jeremy Says:

    John – figured out the problem after going through it one more time. When I tried it the first time, I did not include $ signs in password. I added $signs this time and that was the problem. Persistence paid off. Thanks for your insight.

  46. Olaf Says:

    @Jeremy: the $ sign should not be necessary. I did not include it at any time. You simply need to set the dropdown to “hex” instead of “plain text”.

    Another thing: I just helped a friend of mine set up his AX, too. He used 40bits WEP encryption on his WRT54G (which is even worse than 128bits WEP, I know). It also works but you have to keep in mind that the key is shorter than a 128bit hex phrase. He did not. well, I don’t have a clue where he got the extra digits…

    Question: Has anybody ever tried connecting more than one AX this way? I cannot try that right now because my friend won’t let me take his AX home with me ever since I made it work ;-) But I am considering setting up a second AX in my future kitchen (that is if I get the first working with v5). Can this second AX be integrated as WDS Remote, too. Or can it join the network in client mode only?

    Another question: Do those WDS Remotes significantly reduce transfer rates on the wireless network? I am going to stream video off my server to my xBox (XBMC), which will be hooked up to the AX. How much traffic does Airtunes use when streaming music?

  47. John Says:

    I don’t know if it would work with multiple remotes or not. It should, but I’m not in a position to try it either, unfortunately. The specification calls for such support.

    WDS does have an impact on wireless performance, but it varies. At my range from my main base station, the quality was poor enough that I eventually broke down and ran ethernet. I found it wasn’t capable of supporting streamed video via AFP or SMB. Your setup might be more viable, though, depending on a lot of factors. It would also be worth a try.

  48. Olaf Says:

    Okay, so I tried setting up v5 with AX and I could not makeit work. I believe WDS support has been removed in version 5. Just wanted to let you guys know.

    Using WEP is not an option for me so I will install a 3rd party firmware on my WRT54G 3.1. Everybody: Remember to install the generic firmware first or you will have to open your linksys router…

    Thank you for your help and getting me started.

  49. Peter Brodersen Says:

    I think I need an aggregation of the users’ comments regarding WDS and WPA :-)

    I have a Linksys WRT54G (version 2). Is it required to use Linksys’ own firmware? The newest firmware is only a week or so old but the release notes mention nothing about WPA or WDS. Is it possible to use DD-WRT or any other third party firmware?

    Does it matter whether one selects “WPA PSK” or “WPA2 PSK Mixed” at the linksys? Does algorithm matter (TKIP, AES or TKIP+AES)?

    Does WDS require that the same SSID is used (some sites say no) or is it only a practical setting for a client to select the strongest entry point?

    It really seems like there are a lot of rumors and poor knowledge out there. Wikipedia mentions that WDS+WPA isn’t possible, but a bunch of sites (and the firmware updates for Airport Express) mentions that it is. A site mentions that the MAC address is encrypted when using WPA (which supposedly should hinder WDS under WPA) but this just seem like plain bad understanding.

    It looks like the users here actually are knowledgable and have stuff working :-) Is it possible for the people with an existing, working setup to try different configurations (e.g. algorithm, different SSIDs, change between WPA2 and WPA in Linksys) and watch if WDS is still working. It would be very helpful and squash a lot of misunderstandings.

  50. Kevin Says:

    I have a WRT56G v5 (firmware version 1.00.9) and AE (firmware version 6.3) and all is working! I have 128bit WEP enabled, but have not tired anything else.

    Thanks for this write up!!!

  51. ti-deddi Says:

    Thanks so much – It works for me!

    Very nice “walk through”

  52. MtLoop Says:

    WRT54GC; nothing would get these two to work together until I found these instructions.

    Worked flawlessly on my dialup. Setting that up was another nightmare.

    But now stream music and surf the internet sharing dialup with the AE in the living room.

    Perfect for printer sharing and file sharing also.

    Thanks for the walkthrough

  53. Mr Ed Says:

    I’m with Peter Brodersen on this: can anyone who has successfully run WPA security please tell us how they did/do it. There’s a lot of contradictory information on the web. In my experience, it just can’t be done – I’ve tried all the options available on both the WRT54G and the Airport Express, all without success. Of course I’d love to be proven wrong, preferably with clear, step-by-step set-up instructions:-)

  54. Rich Says:

    I have the Linksys WRT54G v.2 with the most recent firmware available from Linksys (4.30.5), and Airport Express with firmware v6.3. I haven’t had any success getting them to work with each other using WPA or WPA2…yet.

    Still using WEP. The pursuit continues.

  55. Rick Says:

    I was totally lost until I found your website. Now, everything is working perfectly. Thank you so much!

  56. Isaac Says:

    I found this website and decided to buy an Airport Express since there was some “success” stories about getting it to work with WPA. I tried all kinds of ways and never got it to work. I also have a v2 linksys wrt54g with the 4.30.5 firmware. No luck there. WEP works fine for me though.

  57. Peter Brodersen Says:

    Our Airport Express (firmware 6.3) works fine at least *as a client* (and not as an AP in a WDS network) using WPA up against a Linksys WRT54G (running DD-WRT) as access point.

    I can hear music on the stereo connected to the Airport Express from my computer using iTunes. In this setup the Airport Express is just another node on the wireless network, just as any other computer.

  58. Greg Says:

    I have had a wrt54gs for about 8 months now and got WDS with my APEX working that same day, but since I have never gotten WPA/2 to work. The APEX will connect to the GS (green light) but no data will be passed and no addresses given out. I have used both the official firmware and Sveasoft’s latest Talisman release.

    To the people that have supposedly got it working:
    1. Is it possible that you were connected to the main base station and not the extended?
    2. Have you tried setting the SSID on the APEX to something different and manually connecting to it?

  59. Isaac Says:

    Well according to this aricle:

    Three things are clear under the Airport tab and I’ve tested them:

    1) WPA and WDS don’t mix. You can use WPA only in a joined network that already has WPA encryption.

    2) The SSID don’t have to be the same. It makes sense after reading the article (and it works too). That’s what the MAC address is used for later.

    3) You don’t have to use WEP with 128-bit encryption. You can choose 40-bit and it will work normally too.

    Just some feedback to make it simpler.

    John replies:

    All this is true, but the article you cite is also very old.

    1. At the time, WPA and WDS did not mix. Apple employed a solution that was initially exclusive to Apple products, but other vendors have taken similar approaches. There’s no documentation on it, but there is evidence that the Apple and Linksys solutions are interoperable. I’m no RF engineer, so I can’t tell what’s happening on the air, but it does look like it works.

    2. It’s true that the SSIDs don’t *have* to be the same for the remote base station to acquire an uplink to the main base station. However, this will not “extend the range” of your main network; it will create a second network, which is an application beyond the scope of this post. The point of this walkthrough is to set up an Express to extend the range of a WRT54G. To extend the range of an existing network, the SSIDs must most assuredly be the same.

    3. The need or lack thereof for WEP has been discussed at length. Once again: the configuration described in this post is unsupported and not to the official specification of the protocols involved. At the time I wrote it, the only way it would work was with 128-bit WEP. That’s how the other Linksys products for which this facility was implemented were expected to use it. Remember that the Linksys Range Extender works without setup or configuration, negotiating a connection automatically with a Linksys base station. What we’re doing is mimicking a Linksys product using an unpublished feature. At the time, that’s how it had to be done, regardless of any official published specifications. Since then, updates in firmware have apparently enabled more options, including no-encryption and WPA. I’ve never tested 40/64-bit. It sounds like it works for you, assuming you’ve actually tested it. Good to know, in case someone out there has some ancient equipment that doesn’t support 128-bit or WPA.

    Finally, don’t ever cite Tomsnetworking as an authority. For your own sake.


  60. Yves Says:

    i unfortunately have a WRT54G V7.0 . has anyone had any luck getting this darn router to use the APExpress as a repeater using these instructions? this darn v7 seems to be so new that searching it on google doesnt bring up any relevant results. =( any help on this would be greatly appreciated

  61. Joel Says:

    I’m still trying to figure out whether or not WPA is supported in a mixed Linksys/Airport network. I tried numerous times to configure the AE as a WDS and use WPA and haven’t been successful. The AE will even give me the green light.

    I’m using it with WEP and it’s just fine but alas if I’m going to use it I’d prefer WPA. I just keep seeing conflicting reports. Any tricks?

  62. Harris Henderson Says:

    Just wondering if anyone has had success using the “vonage” router (WRTP54G with the AE. it seems like these instructions should work and i thought i had been successful. But once I moved the AE into another room the wheels came off.

    any pointers would be a HUGE help. thanks,


  63. erasmo acosta Says:

    I had a WRT54G V1 router. I used your instructions on this page to setup my Airport Extreme V6.3 as an extender. It worked GREAT at the first try. Few months later my WRT54G died and I bought a WRT54GL (I was told equivalent to WRT54G v4). I must have tried have tried 10 times already without success. When the airport comes back up, I get a green line for a couple of seconds, before it goes back to flashing. Interestingly enough, on the airport admin utility, the station shows the same IP address as the WRT54GL router. I am at the end of the rope here. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


  64. eric Says:

    Using it for WPA didn’t work for me. Flashed green for a second, then dies.

  65. Sean Says:

    I know no one has posted to this in a while, but I’ll give it a shot. I have an on-going discussion in the Apple posts about using a Linksys WRT54G with Airport Express! I have a v5 firmware 1.00.9 Linksys hard wired to my DSL modem. I was wondering if using a Airport Express as WDS will work? I noticed Kevin said earlier that it will work, but I have found more post saying that it doesn’t. Hopefully someone will see this and help me out! Thanks


  66. Chris Says:

    Great write up but I wasn’t able to get the above mentioned method to work for my WRTP54G router (VOIP –> Vonage). This is what I had to do for mine to work (Router firmware 1.00.62, Wireless firmware I didn’t change anything on my router due to existing Tivo settings.

    In the Airport Admin Utility
    -Airport tab
    –>I selected “Join an existing network” and then entered my 128 bit hex key in the password section
    –>I then entered my existing network name
    -Internet tab
    –>Connect using Wireless Network
    –> Manual IP configuration and I bumped my IP address for the Airport by 1 digit (router is, Tivo is and the Airport is 103)
    -Network, Port Mapping, Access Control, Authentication and WDS tabs
    –>No action taken
    Music tab
    –> Enable Air Tunes on this base station
    –> Named speakers and set passwork

    And it finally worked.

    John says:

    By selecting Join Existing Network, you’re specifically disabling WDS. So you’re not extending your range in this scenario, you’re just setting up a wireless client. This procedure you’ve outlined is well-documented.

    It sounds like either your variant of the router doesn’t support WDS, or something about your configuration prevents it from working. But you’re not in WDS. You just have an Express acting as a wireless client.

  67. Andrew Says:

    Does anyone know if these instructions will work with a WRT54GS ver.6? I’ve tried a couple of times, no joy… any and all thoughts welcome…

  68. Geoff Says:


    I just set mine up on my WRT54GS after stumbling onto this blog I’m glad I did because I was LOST!!!

    I run windows XP.

    All said and done, I used TJ’s recomendation from December 19th, 2005 at 10:06 pm. I was having problems setting it up as a seperate network. It went green, but didnt seem to go green again after removing it from the router. I may not have been patient enough(see below). I personally don’t need another wireless network as my WRT54GS pretty much covers the whole 2100 SQFT one level flat, so after reading tj’s entry i went right to that method. Otherwise I would have tinkered with it more or been more patient.

    ****when you move the airport express and plug it in, it will go orange …then blink orange while it searches for the network and or tries to connect. I thought this was a failure until after another attempt I waited 2 minutes and it went green. Dont know if other people bailed on the proccess too early before the Airport had an opportunity to connect.*****

    I now stream itunes to my livingroom which is at the other end of a very long hallway from my computer. No problems other than very minor and occasional skipping-ish signal drops.

    regarding the password, I did not use the $ sign at all…just changed to HEX

    Let me know if you have any probs or it’s not working.


  69. John Says:

    Note that by selecting “join wireless network” you are not in WDS mode, your airport is JUST A CLIENT. You are not extending your range or taking advantage of any hidden features in the linksys router. In fact, at that point, it has nothing to do with the linksys router, WDS, or the intent of this walkthrough.

    If you modify these instructions so that you select anything except WDS, you’re not in WDS mode, and this walkthrough is no better than the manual that comes with your airport express.

    I’m glad these instructions have been helpful, but they’re being completely misused, and I don’t want people thinking they’re achieving the desired results when they take these shortcuts.

    FEEL FREE to set your Airport Express as a client. It works great. BUT:

    - You do not get an active ethernet port on your Airport Express when you do so, so you can’t use it to connect things like Playstations to a wireless network.

    - You do not extend the range of your wireless network.

    - You don’t need to do anything special with WEP or WPA. You don’t need to change any settings on your router. Just configure the Airport Express to Join a Wireless Network and put in the details that are relevant to your wireless network.

    IF YOU WANT TO USE WDS, which provides an extended wireless network, and an active ethernet port, you will have to follow these instructions precisely, and do so in a manner that makes it work. If it doesn’t work for you:

    - You’ve messed it up
    - Your hardware is incompatible
    - You’re not following the instructions

    So again, I’m happy for everyone who’s getting their setups to work for them.

    But please stop posting comments about completely unrelated procedures that produce completely unrelated results, thinking that you’ve ‘fixed’ a ‘problem’ with the procedure.

    The procedure works exactly as spelled out, and only under specific conditions. It is a hack, it is not officially supported, your results may vary, and you may have to REVERT to Client-Only mode by selecting “Join Existing Wireless Network.” But when you do so, you have given up, and you are enjoying none of the benefits of WDS.

    Let’s agree on all of this before discussing what does or does not work any further. I’m happy to answer questions or clarify anything about the original write-up, but I’m not going to post any more comments that have nothing to do with the procedure that entails activating the Airport Express in WDS mode with a Linksys WRT54G up to and including hardware version 3.

    Best wishes, and good luck to everyone,


  70. guilherme ambros Says:

    i was able to get WDS with WRT54/dd-wrt running, but with WEP and no security. There’s no way I could get WPA running over with WDS.

    From the posts above, all the guys that did WPA are running in client-only mode, and not over WDS. So, is it correct to assume that THERE’S NO WAY (YET, AT LEAST) TO GET WPA TO WORK OVER WDS ON AIRPORT EXPRESS?

    thanks in advance, guys. i just want to get rid of this possibility, so I could move on with my life :o))


    guilherme ambros

  71. Cat Fud Says:

    Cheers for the great guide.

    Nobody’s posted here for a while, but just to let you know this worked first time for me (using 128 WEP without the $in the code) using the WRT54GS V6 with latest firmware (1.50.9) and ApEX 6.3.

    Also checked that the Ethernet port on the ApEx works in this WDS configuration. No Probs.



  72. caractacus07 Says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I’ve been trying and trying and trying to get my Airport Express to work. And I NEVER would have without your instructions! I’m jumping for joy right now! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

  73. Toby Says:

    Brilliant. Worked first time, WDS and all. My TiVo and I thank you!

  74. Chris Says:

    Man, this post is a godsend. After futzing around with my airport express for two days, and having suffered a panic attack after realizing that /nowhere/ does Apple talk about using this thing as a bridge via WDS, your intructions worked perfectly the first time. My TiVo and I also thank you, dearly.

  75. Alex. Says:

    Thanks – worked flawlessly for a Minitar MNG54 access point and the apple airport. In 30 minutes I had WDS up and running using 128-bit WEP. I haven’t tried WAP yet. Cheers.

  76. Dave Says:

    This worked for me too. WRT54G v5 (Linksys firmware version v1.01.1, Nov. 10, 2006) and AirPort Express (soft v4.2) The only caveot I need to add is to remember to set the format of the WEP security to HEX, in the AirPort configuration dropdown on screen where you enter the key. (This allows the 26 characters you’ll have in the WRT54G to match the AirPort, no match=no work) No $ required, no third party Firmware required either. Thanks to all that contributed!

  77. Says:

    Nice one – thanks! Just for everyone’s info, got this working on a WRT54G v5 with 1.01.1 Firmware and two AirPort Express units with 6.2 Firmware using 128 bit WEP (tried WPA but no dice). Great result!

  78. NateDogg! Says:

    WRT54GS v2 w/ AE 6.3

    No beans on WPA…Running open auth, w/ hidden SSID and it works great.

  79. ShizzleFizzle Says:

    First off let me say, I called Apple even though I knew this tutorial was out there, spent ~ 1hr on the phone with a guy, who sounded like he knew how to help, but kept on running me in the same circle and then finally told me to take the unit back to the Apple store b/c he thought it might be defective; I did take it back (even though I was pretty sure the unit was fine) and sure enought it was not defective. Came back home and I ran through the steps outlined in this tutorial and everything is working great. This tutorial worked like a charm with my WRT54G version 6; didn’t have to do any updates to firmware as mentioned in other blogs/tutorials. I also did not have to put in “$” before the network key. As mentioned by someone else above, when you go to set your WEP, the default is set to “text” and that needs to changed to “HEX”. It also was very helpful to have the Linksys Web Admin open while updating the changes to the Airport Admin Utility. Thanks a bunch for having this available.

  80. Ed Brown Says:


    I’ve been doing computery things for the past 17 years, professional (ha ha) developer for the past 10.

    I’ve spent two evenings struggling with an airport express trying to get it to act as a remote router, so I can plug a computer into it and get internet (via ethernet) and plug in a stereo and get music.

    I’m pleased to say that setting the network name & security settings to that of my adsl router (3com 3CRWDR100A-72) works a treat and I’m mystified as to why Apple could not have given this information in the booklet or PDF file that comes with the airport extreme.

    fwiw, I’m using 128 bit WEP and did not need to use a $ at the start of the password. This is using Airport Admin Utility 4.2 on a Mac.

  81. jason Says:

    just note… anyone having trouble with this… MAKE SURE YOU ARE COPYING THE WIRELESS MAC ADDRESS NOT THE ROUTER MAC ADDRESS…. the last digit will be one number off….

  82. Phil B Says:

    Ed – how did you mange to get your 3com router to work with AE? I am currently struggling – made some progress with the above info. If you look on the apple website support there are loads of comments that a 3com router and AE aren’t compatible.

    Thanks phil

  83. Sam Says:

    Thank you very much for the config guide and comments. I’ve just succeeded to setup AirPort Express (v6.3) with WRT54G V5. I just wanted to mention that WRT54G firmware 1.02.0 did not work for me and I had to downgrade to 1.01.1.

  84. Olaf Says:

    Wanted to let you know: i managed to set up a second ApEX as WDS remote base station on my network. It did not slow down my network as much as I thought it would…btw: anyone know about a good solution to remotely control iTunes?

  85. Mark Says:

    Having read all the posts on this WDS forum it seems this could be the answer to my prayers – I just have a couple of queries that need clarification.

    Am I correct in assuming that (barring any firmware/hardware conflicts) if WDS is enabled and working on both an Airport Express (AE) and Linksys WRT54G, two wired networks (one connected to each router) can communicate and share an internet connection? I am not asking if it “will” work, as from reading some posts it does seem somewhat pot-luck based on firmware/hardware configurations; what I am asking if it is “could” work.

    It seems that some people believe they have WDS working when in fact, like John says, their AE is simply acting as a client. It is mentioned that in WDS mode the ethernet connection is active on the AE and can be used. I assume the ethernet connection on the AE can be used to provide an internet connection (if it was itself on another network with an internet connection) or allow a computer connected to the ethernet port to obtain a wireless internet connection?

  86. John Says:

    Am I correct in assuming that (barring any firmware/hardware conflicts) if WDS is enabled and working on both an Airport Express (AE) and Linksys WRT54G, two wired networks (one connected to each router) can communicate and share an internet connection?

    This would be correct. You should be able to use this arrangement to link two wired networks, wirelessly. Just connect the Airport Express to the hub or switch once you have it in WDS mode. The wired computers will hop on the network, just as if they were connected directly to the main router. If you have only one wired computer, connect it directly to the AX with a plain Ethernet cable, and the AX works like a wireless adapter.

    The Ethernet port on the Airport Express is active only when in WDS mode, however. If the AX is in client mode, the Ethernet port does nothing.

  87. Mark Says:


    Thanks a lot John – I wasn’t willing to take a chance on a £65 AE without a bit more certainty this would work. I wasn’t sure whether there were restrictions on which side of the WDS the gateway to the internet had to be, as most people in this forum seem to use the Linksys WRT54G as the gateway and the AE as a wireless extension.

    In my setup the AE will be connected via ethernet to another router providing the internet connection. Another network containing a printer,PC and linux box in my office will then be WDS-connected to the AE using a Linksys WRT54G (hopefully) obtaining an internet connection. Can’t wait to try this when I move into my new apartment next weekend. I’ll report back with the news once its up and running.


  88. Macmenace Says:

    I have a WRT54GS and I followed you steps but when I unplug the Airport Express and plug it into the “living room” the yellow light flashes forever and I cannot connect to the internet. Is there something different I have to do with the “S” version of the WRT54GS?

  89. John Says:

    It doesn’t work with the GS as far as I know.

  90. Sammy Says:

    Hi John,

    I see several posts asking if you know how this could be applied to a WRTP54G (Vonage) router. Understand that you don’t have this model and can’t verify any procedures. But any tips for us poor Vonage owners as to how we could see if the firmware (mine is v 1.00.62) supports WDS?

    Linksys doesn’t have any upgrades available to this router for some reason.


  91. John Says:

    I hear that question a lot, but I haven’t heard from anyone who has tried. My answer is always the same… can’t hurt to try!

    Your AX will always work in client mode, but WDS is apparently only available with WRT54G.

  92. bill Says:

    been struggling to get this to work for a while. does anyone know if htis works with the wrt54g version 8? i’ve tried everything described on this page; even trying it with no WEP encryption at all & they can’t seem to talk. My AE is 6.2 i believe & utility is 4.2.

    cant’ figure out why it’s not just wondering if it’s because of my router (version 8)


  93. John Says:

    I haven’t seen any reports that it does, or that it doesn’t. If it is a software issue, it’s more likely the fault of your router than your AX.

    So long as the router is compatible with the Linksys Range Extender, however, then in theory, it should work.

    Many users have trouble because the AX is in fact in Client or Access Point mode, rather than WDS mode. If you’ve doublechecked your settings, then something else is awry, or else there is in fact a compatibility issue. Good luck.

  94. nico Says:


    I Have a WRT54G Ver 6 (Firmware v.1.02.0) and my AX Ver
    Airport Admin Utility Version 4.2 and didn’t work for me.

    I’ll try upgrading my router to firmware 1.02.2 or downgrading to 1.01.1

  95. nico Says:

    Upgraded the router to firmware 1.02.2 and is now rocking!

  96. Jesse Wonder Clark Says:


    Well, going through it all again, including resetting both the Linksys and the Express, I’ve managed to get the Airport Express to show green. Perhaps I was using the MAC address from the wrong page, I don’t know.

    At any rate, now I can’t get the ethernet connection to the Airport Express working. When I plug into it, the Network tab of System Preferences tells me that “Built-in Ethernet is currently active. Built-in Ethernet has a self-assigned IP address and may not be able to connect to the Internet.” Any help?

  97. John Says:

    If the Airport Express is green, but the Ethernet port is not active, then either your Ethernet port is disabled in the Airport Admin Utility, or the Airport Express is not in fact in WDS mode.

  98. Jesse Wonder Clark Says:

    I’m positive it was in WDS mode, but the point is moot. There were a bunch of other weird behaviors. I just returned the Linksys. It was a lot cheaper than the Apple Airport Extreme, but I decided that the money was worth it. From the convoluted web-page setup to this whole WDS thing, it’s too much trouble. I’m looking forward to Apple’s whole “it just works” thing. Thanks for this website, and the help, though.

  99. John Says:

    Remember that this configuration isn’t supported by Linksys or Apple, so some rough roads are to be expected.

    However, the Apple base station is overall much, much nicer. And yeah… the all-Apple arrangement does just work.


  100. sven Says:

    Been struggling the past 2 nights with this setup, finally got it to work. Thanks. Here is my input: i have the WRT54G v7. Did not work out of the box: make sure you upgrade to the latest firmware! Another user seemed to have the same experience. Also: set configure to “manually”. Hope this helps.

  101. Peter Says:

    John, you are a Wi-Fi rockstar.

    I tried the process with WPA and no luck, when I tried WEP it worked like a charm. Now we have 7 computers + an xbox 360 on the linksys + AX and everything works well. The AX is a huge hit for our college parties. Thanks again.

  102. Fred Says:

    Just made it work with V7 today exactly as per the recommendations of the first post… not using Manually. It took me longer that it should have as I had confused the MAC addresses (althouh it was wel lpointed out).
    Had upgraded to firmware V. 7.00.4 before so cannot say if it would work out of the box.

    So thanks a lot to the initial Poster…

  103. Brian Says:


    Thanks for the absolutely PERFECT directions! Unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to take the time to read all the posts before starting configuration, where you did not guarantee the WRT54GS. After at least two hours of endless tinkering, I found the post saying that the GS wouldn’t work. In one last ditch attempt, I thought I would upgrade the firmware to 7.50.2 whattayaknow, PERFECTION! So I can affirmatively say that the WRT54GS works perfectly with AEX as a range extender as long as the firmware on the GS is v.7.50.2.

    Thanks to you, though, it was still easier/faster than when I first did this setup with my Belkin and AEX two years ago. Thanks for such detailed, clear, and precise directions.

  104. Sam Says:

    FYI to those with V8 WRT54G: Per post 1 I was able to connect a v8 wrt54g (updated firmware to 8.00.2) to a AEX firmware v6.3.

    Nice writeup. Thanks.

  105. Barry Says:

    Thanks for the step by step procedures! Following your instructions, my WRT54GS V4 didn’t initially connect with my airport express, but a firmware update took care of that.

  106. Mark Says:

    I had a v8 WRT54G and I tried these steps a month or two ago, and I couldn’t get it to work. I never thought to upgrade the firmware on the linksys because I knew people had been doing this for years and I figured by now the default factory firmware would have everything. I upgraded the firmware yesterday from 8.00 to 8.00.2 per Sam’s post (Thanks Sam), and now everything is up and working. A lot of wasted hours on a trivial solution.

  107. Casey Says:

    All I have to say is thank you, thank you, and……..oh yeah THANK YOU!!!!!

  108. Robert Says:

    Thank you. I just switched from a Netgear wireless router to the Linksys WRT54G-TM 5.0v to use UMA WIFI for BB 8320 Curve. The UMA works flawlessly with the curve however, thats when I noticed my Airport Express 6.2v starting blinking amber. It allowed the internet connection to wireless internet via Mac Powerbook but, wouldnt see airtunes tab in itunes to stream music. Re-Configing to the WDS in AEX while, still utilizing the WPA security and following the rest of your instructions worked! Green Light! Thanks again.

  109. Chris Says:

    Your original post continues to make lives happier over two years later! I’ll add my thanks for distilling a jumble of information into a readable and usable step-by-step tutorial. I just set up my v3 WRT54G running firmware v4.21.1 with my Airport Express running v6.3 using the (newer) Airport Utility application in the Leopard upgrade for Mac OS X. Notes from my (numerous) attempts:

    Connect the Airport Express box to the Linksys via cable during setup. Use WEP encryption, and don’t bother with WPA – it doesn’t work with this setup. I tried just about every combination of choices possible and could never get the AE with WPA recognized in the end. Switching to WEP changed all of that. It wasn’t necessary for me to use the “$” in my key. If you’re using the new Airport Utility in Leopard, there’s nothing to really change with these instructions – the only thing I would note is that under “Wireless Mode” in the “Wireless” subpanel you can now choose “Participate in a WDS network” rather than “Create new Network” as stated in the instructions above. This worked for me and certainly made logical sense to choose.

    Thanks again for providing a great resource and for enabling a new Xbox 360 to stretch its legs online!

  110. Josh Says:

    Thank you so much . . . I was extremely lucky to come across this discussion. I have a WRT54GS and thought my chances of linking it up with the APE were minimal . . . just follow the directions above and make sure to update the firmware on the linksys (as stated in the discussion above) and you’ll be set! Beautiful!

  111. Tom Says:

    Thank you good sir! I have been looking to do this for a while but never quite found the right instructions.
    I have a WTR54G with Tomato firmware connecting to the APX v6.3 extending my network wired/wirelessly. :)

  112. nicholas Says:

    Great instructions! Is it possible to get a computer with no wireless connection, that is connected to a Linksys router, to use Airtunes through a AE set up on the wireless network through WDS? Sorry for the crappy wording.

  113. John Says:

    With an Airport Express anywhere on your network, both wired and wireless computers can use AirTunes… even if the Airport Express is in WDS mode.

  114. DrTivoL Says:

    o.k. i got it to work! i now have my xbox 360 connected to the ethernet jack on the AEX. This rocks!

    Chris’s post above was helpful. The new V5.1 of the Airport Utility allows you to set up the WDS directly (so you don’t have to do the Internet tab instructions described at the top). What you do is configure it to be WDS, then click on the WDS tab. you now have the option as WDS main, WDS relay, and WDS remote. You need to set it up as relay or remote. Then add the MAC address of your wireless router (described above). Hit update and once it’s back up, disconnect the cable (connecting the AEX and your wireless router) and you are all set.

  115. Brad Says:

    John, thanks for the tips. I am looking into buying a AEX for music purposes.

    My question for you or others is if this setup will effect my cell phone service that I use my wireless router for. I have the Tmobile hotspot services and am concerned if I change the settings the phone won’t work. Thanks again, I am confident that I can hook up my router and an AEX with your step by step process.

  116. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for the help! After banging my head against the wall to get my old AE’s ethernet connection up and going, I found your site. I was able to hook up my direct tv on-demand using your hints. I have been using AE to stream Itunes to my living room the last couple of years and now I am using my linksys router to support on-demand from direct tv! In an all PC network.

  117. Bob Says:

    John, thanks for the great article. I already had an AX and WRT54G – i had no idea i could expand my network using the two. I got it up and running in practically no time.

  118. alkaabi Says:

    i have to say, i tried everything, but nothing worked. then just before i gave up, i did a little research when i found that my linksys router doesn’t actually support WDS. However, in airport utility i fond the option “extend existing network” instead of “WDS” and when i choose that, it worked :).

  119. Morris Says:

    Update and success!

    I kept reading Chris’ and DrTivoL’s posts over and over and I was pulling my hair out over WEP and WDS. The WEP Transitional Key thing threw me off in the AirPort Utility. But after reading about WEP Transitional, bingo, I finally understood.

    1. On the Wireless Tab, select WEP Transitional, and pick a 13 digit key, and confirm.
    2. Go the to menu item “Base Station” and select “Equivalent Network Password…”. Write down the hex key.
    3. Go to the Linksys Router and under wireless security change the 128-bit key to the hex code that you just wrote down.
    4. If you are running a Mac, reconnect to your Linksys Router using the 13-character password when prompted.
    5. In AirPort Utility update the settings and let the APEx reboot.
    6. Wait for it. At first the APEx will come back with amber and say “WDS Error”. But after a minute or two it magically turns green and all is right with the world.

    I feel better. Thanks for the help!

  120. Wil Macaulay Says:

    I was unable to get WDS to work on my WRT54G v 5.0 without security (hey, I have an open network…) until I upgraded my firmware from v1.02.0 to v1.02.5 build 002 (jan 9 2008). Once I applied the firmware upgrade, all was smooth sailing. I did not try with WEP, or WPA, but my reading of previous posts leads me to believe that others who were successful with the v5 were using WEP.

    Thanks for the clear instructions – I was able to pick up an APEx for half-price…


  121. dB Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks… Had some issues trying to get WPA to happen but the WEP instructions have worked out brilliantly. Much appreciated.


  122. rishi Says:

    Thanks too. After some fiddling I got my AEX working with AirTunes in the lounge room connected wirelessly via WEP128 to my Linksys Router. I am on Leopard 10.5.3

    Things that helped:
    - Complete setup with AEX connected to Linksys via ethernet
    - Wireless Mode: Participate in WDS Network
    - Select 13 digit password
    - Obtain Equivalent network password from Base Statio drop down menu at top of screen (not in Airport Utility Window)
    - Copy Equivalent network password and paste to Linksys router & update
    - Obtain MAC address from Linksys STATUS Tab, WIRELESS – Sub Tab
    - Type MAC address to WDS Tab WDS Main field in Aiport utility
    - Select Allow Wireless clients
    - Select WDS Remote or WDS Relay depending on your setup
    - Add 13 digit password to your computer internet profile so it can connect to the internet
    - Update settings in the in the Airport Utility
    - Hold breath, wait a minute or two
    - Disconnect from LAN and reconnect in desire location
    - ENJOY!!!!!

  123. MS Says:

    I spent most of last night working on this, and had one critical error that kept me from completing this quickly.

    NEVER TYPE IN YOUR NETWORK SSID. Instead, pick the SSID from the list. The airport utility will then autosense the type of password that is needed, in my case 128 bit WEP. When I manually entered the SSID, all I got was the option of WEP TRANSITIONAL, which didn’t let me enter the appropriate password length, and probably messed up some other stuff.

    Anyway, after a long day’s journey into night, I got this working. I have the AEX running in WDS mode, as a remote for my Linksys WRT54G v3. I have my xbox now hooked up to my network, and a great pipe for music to my stereo receiver.

    There were a few moments when I wanted to throw the bloody thing out the window!!!

  124. rjpamd Says:

    John, thanks so much for the post, as well as to those contributing! Just had my Linksys WRT54G v7 and Airport Express “N” Base Station to work. Took me some time (3 hours…just coz i didn’t read all of the posts, haha) but finally got it to work. Just some things i kept in mind for those using the exact same setup as i am:

    1. configure the setup with the WRT54G connected via ethernet to the AEX
    2. use WEP (never WPA) 128bit
    3. use the “WDS” mode on the new Airport Utility instead of “Create a Wireless Network”, and check “Extend existing Network”
    4. after setting up and clicking “Update”, the WILL be a “WDS Error” with the amber light flashing…just let it run, it’ll turn out ok (with a green lighted AEX) in a few seconds.

    Please read all the posts (especially the 2008 ones for those using the new AEX) to understand what’s going on, especially for newbies (like me!). Everything is practicaly spelled out. Thanks again to all who helped out, hope this helps others as well!!!

  125. Allwha Says:

    PHEWWWW!! hassle free set up.. wish i had scrolled down to the ENDDDD when i started the installation..!! thanks rjpamd for the addition!

  126. micksabox Says:

    Yup, Im another one of those guys that took hours to eventually set this up, but in the end the replies at the end helped me a lot.

    My router is Linksys WRT54G v.3 and I got the 08 version of AX.

    I chose “Participate in WDS network”

    Set channel and encryption type the same.

    Chose a 13 digit password and did the “Equivalent Network Password” function from the Base Station menu.

    Entered the given HEX password into my routers Key 1 field and saved/updated the router with the new information.

    Then basically what rishi says above.

    Thanks alot to all the posters.

  127. jtriand Says:

    I am trying to connect Airport Express to my Linksys WAG200g Annex A and to a WRE54G range extender. It seems that I have a problem finding a common encryption code for all three.

    After many hours working, I managed to get a steady green light on the AE, but after its updating it could not be detected in the network.

    Is there a set of istructions I can follow?

  128. Adam Says:

    I have just tried these instructions, and here’s my experience using an AirPort Extreme (not express; 802.11g) with WDS and a Linksys WRT54g.

    My WRT54g is version 8 with firmware 8.00.5
    My AirPort Extreme has version 5.7
    I am running Leopard.

    First off, I can confirm that no matter what I tried, WPA encryption settings will NOT work in my case. Once I switched my Linksys to 128-bit WEP, it worked flawlessly.

    No setup required for the Linksys as you say in your article.

    Instructions for latest AirPort Extreme Setup Utility:

    Wireless Mode: Participate in a WDS network
    Radio Mode: same as linksys
    Channel: same as linksys
    Wireless Security: WEP 128 bit
    Wireless Password: same as first 26-digit HEX key

    WDS Mode: WDS remote
    Allow wireless clients is checked (probably works without too)
    WDS Main: wireless MAC address of Linksys

    I just wish I wouldn’t have wasted a day trying to get this to work with WPA. WEP128 will have to suffice.

    Thanks everyone!

  129. Jack Bog Says:

    This was very helpful.

    One problem I had was that the old Airport Express I got came with a CD disk that had Airport Admin Utility 4.0, which couldn’t get the job done. (I am on a Vista machine.)

    You can upload 4.1 for free at

    FWIW, I didn’t need the dollar sign.

    Green light, baby!

  130. Guy Says:

    This indeed was very helpful – just wanted to add my finding with an AP Extreme:

    While trying to set the WEP password on the APE I had a mismatch in the password length. The APE was expecting a 13 char password, while the WRT54g was expecting 26 chars.
    I was about to give up when I found this:
    On the Airport configuration utility go to “Base Station -> Equivalent Network Password”. This will give you the password you just entered in 26 chars (in my case it buffed it up with the number 3 between every char).
    After finding this it worked like a charm.

  131. Chris Says:

    First of all, thanks to everyone for all of the useful posts. I have been running and APE with a Linksys WRT54G for over two years now and the performance has been excellent. I recently bought a 2nd APE for the upstairs loft and had the same problem with the 13 character WEP password. While the AirPort utility will generate a 26 character hex password based upon the 13 character WEP transitional password, I really didn’t feel like retyping a NEW 26 character password in my router and all my devices. Especially, since my old APE is working fine. So, after a couple of hours of digging through the Apple website, it seems that the new APE is an 802.11 N device and therefore requires a transitional WEP key. However, if you hold down the OPTION key before clicking the radio button 802.11 N is disabled and the selection reverts back to 802.11 b/g and it then allows you to select WEP-128 security and it will accept a 26 character hex password. Everything works great now. I can stream music and connect to the internet in both locations.

    Note: The OPTION key works in Mac OS X, I don’t know the corresponding key for Windows, but try the CTRL and ALT keys and see if they have the same outcome.

  132. Peterk Says:

    I would like to repeat (since it seemed very difficult for me to believe it and caused me several hours of futile tinkering), in order to make AP work with Airtunes & to distribute a wired connection, it is _necessary_ to hook the AP to the Linksys router with a cable when doing the settings. All things being equal, that seeemed to be the decisive part for me.

    Thanks, now everything works :-)

  133. Felipe Says:

    Chris, your tip for the new AX with 802n totally worked!!! THat’s ultra great!! Thanks Chris and John!!!

  134. Liza Says:

    Took 3 hours, but got this to work as a range extender with an WRT54GS v2. The settings needed for the linksys side are well documented above; here’s what I used on the Airport Utility side:

    Wireless tab
    -Wireless mode: Participate in a WDS network
    -Channel: 11 (same on the linksys router setup side)
    -Wireless Security: WEP (Transitional)
    -Wireless password: 13 characters, NOT matching at this point what is on the linksys side

    WDS tab (shows up once you select “Participate in a WDS network)
    -WDS mode: WDS relay
    -WDS main: MAC number from linksys router, using the WIRELESS MAC number

    Then using the top menu bar, select Base Station -> Equivalent Network Password to generate the 26 character hex equivalent of the 13 character wireless password. Paste this into the wireless password on the linksys router setup side. Make sure you update your wireless password on any other devices.

    I HIGHLY recommend reading through all of the comments first before going through the procedure.

  135. Duncan Says:

    Another one saved by this thread! Admittedly some of this equipment is outdated in 2012, but meh, why not save cash and use what I already have. I was able to get everything working using the AEBS (v2, 802.11n, firmware 7.6.1) in WDS remote mode, Airpot Utility 5.5.3 and a Linksys wrt54g (firmware v8.08). Follow all directions in the original post, ESPECIALLY including the “recent” commentary, update as necessary and use a 128 bit WEP encryption with the Mac OSX option key trick/base station pull down menu HEX conversion listed above. I could not get a WPA to fly. My two cents: when you are in the linksys router status page looking for your WIRELESS!!!! MAC address, don’t be like me and not read the tabs carefully enough. There is one just below and to the far right called … Wireless. Use that one.