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PS2 Network Adaptor FAQ

Answers to Frequently Asked (and answered) Questions

Revision #1.0
Last updated: 10-DEC-2002

Introduction

With the release of the PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor (NA) in North America, Sony has ushered in the age of console online gaming.  In the past few months since the release of the NA, stores have not been able to keep them in stock.  Already 250,000 have been sold with more on the way.  Sony expects to have produced 400,000 of these by the end of the year.

With a flood of "new users" trying to connect their consoles and go online, and a short supply of "old users" to call upon for advice, getting help can be a challenge.

One of the best sources of information the NA is the PlayStation.com website's Network Adaptor Forum.  But here, many of the same questions are continually re-asked (and re-answered) over and over again.

To save time, this FAQ was created to consolidate a list of the most commonly asked questions into a single place, and to provide answers.

Etiquette

Before you post a question, please read the FAQ.  There's a pretty good chance your question has already been asked and answered (we don't see very many original questions).

If you can't find your question answered here, try using the "search" feature.  If you go into the Playstation.com "Forums" section of the website, you'll find the search feature very near the bottom of the page.  

If you still can't find your question answered, go ahead and post the question.  Someone will likely respond shortly (usually within a day).

But... when you post, remember this:  vague questions can generally only net vague answers.  Provide details and specifics.  If something doesn't work, explain your setup (the components you are using including manufacturer & model number of any equipment), explain what you tried, be very specific about error messages, etc.  Non-specific questions will usually just get responses asking for more details.  Cleverly thought through questions which are specific often get answers much faster, and the questions are likely to be much more accurate.

Disclaimer

This FAQ was privately developed by Tim Campbell.  I am not affiliated with Sony Computer Entertainment America ("SCEA") or Lithium in any way other than as an indivdual consumer who owns and uses a PlayStation 2.

This information is made available to the community of PlayStation 2 owners at no cost.  Neither SCEA, Lithium, their employees, contractors, or agents, nor the authors or contributors to this FAQ will be responsible for any problems or damage caused by the use or misuse of this information.  You are solely responsible for your own actions and agree not to hold any other party liable for any consequences.

If all else fails, and you believe your Network Adaptor to be faulty, please contact PlayStation technical support at: 1-800-345-SONY.



The Questions

Here then, are the questions (and answers).  They are ordered (roughly) from most simplistic (questions you might ask before you make the purchase), to intermediate (common setup / configuration questions), to advanced (home networking, etc.).

Table of Contents

  1. What does the Network Adaptor do?
  2. What games can I play?
  3. Does that mean I can surf the web with it and do email too?
  4. How much does it cost?  Are there any online charges for using it?
  5. What do I need to have?
  6. What does "broadband" mean?
  7. Where can I find a "broadband" provider near me?
  8. I live in a rural area with no local "broadband" provider.  Can I use Satellite internet instead?
  9. What else do I need, besides the PS2 and the Network Adaptor, to make it go online?
  10. What type of cable should I buy?
  11. I already have a computer in my home.  Can my PS2 and my home computer share my broadband connection?
  12. What is a "router"?
  13. What is "NAT"?
  14. There are so many routers.  Which one should I get?  Does it matter?
  15. What is ICS - or Internet Connection Sharing, and how does that work?
  16. Someone told me I can just use something called a "hub" or a "switch", will those work too?
  17. What is the difference between a "hub", a "switch", and a "router"?
  18. My PS2 is in  a room which is nowhere near my home computer and broadband modem.  Can I still connect it to the network?
  19. My computer hooks to my broadband modem using a USB cable, what do I do about that?
  20. I'm trying to swap my cable from my home computer to my PS2, but my PS2 can't go online when I do this.   What's wrong?
  21. I get a message that says my network connection was successful, but my registration information could not be sent. I cannot connect to any servers.  Why is that?
  22. What is a MAC address?
  23. How can I find my PS2's MAC address?
  24. When I play SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals online, other players can hear me, but I can't hear them.  What's wrong?
  25. I can play games hosted by others, but I cannot "host" a game.  Why not?
  26. What is "port forwarding"?  How do I make that work?
  27. What is a "DMZ host"?  How can I configure this?
  28. I used the automatic method to configure my PS2's IP address.  How can I find out what it is?
  29. If I use this "DMZ host" feature, isn't it compromising my security?
  30. If I connect my PS2 to the Internet, can it catch a virus or be infected by a worm?
  31. My friend and I each have our own PS2.  Can we put them on the same network to play games online?
  32. I heard something about a Hard Disk Drive.  What's that all about?
  33. Can I use my PS2 as a home computer?
  34. I eat this stuff for breakfast, where can I find more?

What does the Network Adaptor do?

The Network Adaptor (NA) is a hardware module which attaches to the expansion port in the back of the PS2.  The version of the NA released for use in North America includes both a dial-up 56k modem as well as a broadband network interface.  You can view a picture of it here.

Once installed, specific games which are designed for use with the NA can go online (via an Internet connection) to allow users to play games against other users.

The NA comes with a utility disk used to configure the Adaptor for your particular ISP.  This allows you to configure and store your network settings, any usernames and passwords needed to go online, etc.  These settings will be stored in a save file on a PS2 memory card.  You must have a memory card with room enough to store the network settings.

What games can I play?

The list is always growing.  The easiest way to see the latest games available is to search for them using the Playstation.com website.  This is easier than it sounds since you can search for games by their "peripheral features".

Goto http://www.us.playstation.com/games/gamefinder/feature/default.asp to bring up the search page, in the form presented, select "PlayStation 2" as the System type, then select "Network Adaptor Compatible" as the Feature desired.  Click on "Find Games" and you'll soon be browsing the latest list.

Does that mean I can surf the web with it and do email too?

Not yet.  The NA doesn't come with any software for this purpose.  There may be a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) available in the future.  The HDD is actually attached via the NA and slides into the expansion bay on the back of the PS2.  The current expectation (which may change) is that some software would be included with the HDD which would allow for web surfing and possibly even email.

How much does it cost?  Are there any online charges for using it?

The Network Adaptor itself retails for about $40 US.  Users must provide their own Internet service (if you already have an ISP for use with your home computer, chances are pretty good your PS2 can use this ISP as well.)

Most games do not require any subscription or addtional fees to play online (besides the initial cost of just buying the game itself).  You should never need to provide your credit card number or any of your personal information.

Some games may impose a charge or subscription fee.  While no games released today have any fees, there are a few (such as Final Fantasy XI) which are likely to require an addtional fee.

Unlike the Microsoft XBox, which requires a subscription for online gameplay and forces all games to use a central gaming network, there is no central network for the PlayStation 2, nor is there any extra service subscription requirement.  Sony does not impose any strict standards on their game developers.  But... this also means that an independent game software developer could choose to install their own game servers and impose a fee for playing their particular online game.

What do I need to have?

You must have:
  1. A PlayStation 2 console (with TV or NTSC video monitor)
  2. A Network Adaptor
  3. A memory card (you can use a card you already own if it has enough space to save the network settings)
  4. An Internet provider.  No specific ISP is required, most will work.  It's much better if you have "broadband" as opposed to "narrow band" (a.k.a. dial-up).  There are very few ISPs which cannot be used by the PS2.
  5. The Network Adaptor does not come with cords or cables of any kind.  If you use dial-up, you will need a standard telelphone cord.  If you use broadband, you will need a network cable.
You do not need a home computer.  The PS2 is capable of getting on the Internet all by itself.

If you have broadband which is already used by a single home computer you will probably want to have a home firewall router.  This will allow you to share your broadband connection with your PS2 and your home computer at the same time (someone can use the computer to surf the web while someone else plays online games at the same time.  If you have multiple computers in your home, you might already have one.  If you only have a single computer (and nothing else which uses the Internet), you probably don't.  Once you have a home firewall router, you can actually hook up many network devices (not just the PC and the PS2).

There is a mild complexity of configuring a home network to allow two or more devices to share a single internet connection.  This complexity has nothing to do with the PS2.  It's simply based on the fact that you want to share the network connection (you would go through the same setup if you owned a PS2 first and later bought a home computer, or even if you simply tried to connect two home computers).

Stricly speaking, the "router" is not a requirement.  It is simply something you will probably want to have as a convenience.

What does "broadband" mean?

Broadband is simply the generic term used to refer to high-speed home internet connections.  These may be DSL (There are a number of variants on DSL, sometimes referred to as xDSL.  The most common is ADSL.), or Cable Internet.

Narrowband refers to the slow dial-up connections (usually 56kbps or slower) service.  

Since online games are highly interactive and may allow for quite a number of concurrent players in one game, there can be a substantial amount of information be passed among the PS2 game consoles for the online players.  This places considerable bandwidth demands on the network which dial-up connections can usually not satisfy.  

Of the online games, some games are restricted to "broadband users only".  Other games may support dial-up users, but may limit the number of players allowed when dial-up is used.

If you have the PS2 Network Adaptor, and look closely at it, you will see that it has two connection sockets on the back.  One of these is labeled "Network". This is the broadband connection.  The other socket is labeled "Line" (for telephone line).  This is the narrowband connection.  You would only ever use one port, or the other.  Never both.

Where can I find a "broadband" provider near me?

The easiest way to locate a provider is to go to http://www.broadbandreports.com/ and use the "Find Service" link (in the upper left corner).

Often times, your own local Cable TV provider can also provide you with broadband Internet service.  If you already have Cable TV, give your local provider a call.

I live in a rural area with no local "broadband" provider.  Can I use Satellite Internet instead?

Would it work?  Technically speaking, it probably would "work" (for limited definitions of the term "work").  

Would you be happy with it?  Probably not.

First, a technical limit about whether it could even work:  Currently, the most popular satellite provider is DirecWay (part of Hughes which also owns the more widely-known DirecTV satellite network).  The initial generation of DirecWay is provided using a scheme which only supports a single PC which must run Microsoft Windows. DirecWay has mentioned that they intend to offer an alternate service which will provide a stand-alone network box, much like the broadband modem provided by DSL and Cable internet providers.  This box would have a common network interface on it which would enable most any computer to be connected or any other device with a standard ethernet jack (such as the PS2).

There's an alternative (I have not tested this myself) in which you could purchase an additional ethernet network interface card (NIC) for your PC.  Assuming you run MS Windows, you can possible enable a feature called "Internet Connection Sharing" (a.k.a. ICS).  A later question in this FAQ explains what this is.  Microsoft, by no means, invented the idea.  It's an old idea which many other operating systems also support.  Alas I digress.

Back to the issue of "happiness":  There are two factors which are important to online gaming.  One is the bandwidth issue I already mentioned.  The second is the notion of latency.  

Latency refers to the delay (measured in time) required to get the data from origin to destination.  Informally, this is sometimes referred to by gamers as "ping times" (the number of milliseconds required to send a dummy packet from a console, across the network to a server, and then return it back to the console.)

Traditional broadband users (DSL or Cable) typically have "ping times" which are 100milliseconds (ms) or less. (A millisecond is 1/1000th of a second).

Satellites have a unique problem governed by the laws of physics -- specifically the speed of light through a vacuum. When a satellite system is used, the "ping" test must transmit the packet from your computer (or console in our case) to your dish, which transmits the signal up to the satellite.  The satellite then beams the signal back down to the network center which has high-speed Internet connections.  It then travels through the Internet (the traditional way) to the game server.  The server bounces the signal back to the network center, which beams it back up into space where the satellite beams it back down to your home.

Here's the rub:  For that "ping" to work, the signal has to run the distance from ground to space no less than 4 times (for a single ping).  For a satellite to remain in a stable orbit at a fixed location in the sky, the satellite must be in something known as geosynchronous orbit this is a specific beltway around the Earth which is 22,236 miles directly above the Earth's equator.  Since North America is a good bit north of the equator, this means the signal transmits a little farther than the mere 22,236 miles.  Since I'm lazy, I'll round this number up to 25,000 (to make the math simple).

I previously pointed out that the "ping" test will require that the packet make this trip no less than 4 times.  Using my rounded up math, that's about 100,000 miles.  Since light travels at roughly 186,000 miles per second (in a vacuum, and we don't quite have a vacuum, but let's not pick at nits) this means you'll need a little more than 1/2 second (close to 540ms) just to make the jump from ground to satellite (or vice versa).  There will be additional latency incurred by the actual networking equipment both on the ground and in the satellite, as well as the typical delays of the Internet.  

It turns out that you should not expect your satellite ping times to be any faster than 750ms -- and your actual numbers may likely be a little worse.  Unless we can pass some new laws of physics, there's really nothing that can be done to improve this number enough to reduce latency to acceptable levels.

This means that players on satellite will lag behind their land-based opponents significantly... providing for frustrating game play.

Those who have tested broadband game play over satellite have confirmed that the latency and game "lag" are aggravating and have reported that dial-up connections may actually provide better response time.

What else do I need, besides the PS2 and the Network Adaptor, to make it go online?

The Adaptor doesn't come with any cables.  If you have broadband, you will need to provide your own network cables.

If you have a home computer already, then you may seriously want to consider purchasing a broadband router.

If your PS2 is not in the same room as your computer and broadband modem, there are some other factors to consider see "My PS2 is in  a room which is nowhere near my home computer and broadband modem.  Can I still connect it to the network?" below in this FAQ.

What type of cable should I buy?

For broadband use, you need to provide standard network cables.  This means you need to purchase Category 5 network cables.  But this, you may soon learn, can be confusing.

There are two primary types of network cable.  The most common (and traditional type) is the straight-through patch cable.  There is an alternate type called the cross-over cable.  Usually straight-through cable will not be labeled "straight-through", but "cross-over" cable will always be labeled with the words "cross-over" clearly printed on the packaging.  Cross-over cables are usually yellow, or sometimes orange, but straigh-through cables come in every color of the rainbow (including yellow and orange).  

All cables look pretty much alike.  They have ends which look much like those on a modular telephone cord (No, you cannot use telephone cord as a substitute.), except they are a bit larger, wider, and have 8 wires instead of 4.  The modular end is called an RJ-45 connection (the one on a telephone cord is called an RJ-11 and the even smaller one on a telephone handset cord (the curly one) is called an RJ-22).

For most applications, you need the common straigh-through variety.  Use this if you are connecting your PS2 Network Adaptor directly to your cable modem, or if you connected your PS2 Network Adaptor to either a router, a switch, or a hub.

If you are connecting your PS2 Network Adaptor directly into the network card on a PC (no modem, switch, hub, or router is involved), then you would need a cross-over cable.

If you have a cable and don't know if it is straight-through vs. cross-over, you can check the ends.  Hold both ends of the cable next each other.  The ends are transparent plastic.  They have 8 fine wires inside.  The wires are colored:
  1. Green
  2. White with green stripes
  3. Orange
  4. White with orange stripes
  5. Blue
  6. White with blue stripes
  7. Brown
  8. White with brown stripes
The actual order of the wires may vary depending on manufacturer and isn't important.  What is important is that the order (when compared from left to right) is the same on both ends.  If they are the same, you have a standard straigh-through cable.  If they are different, you have a cross-over cable.

Other buying considerations:

Category 5 is often labeled CAT5-UTP.  UTP is an abbreviation for Unshielded Twisted Pair (all varieties use twisted pair).  An alternate (and more expensive) variety is CAT5-STP.  STP is an abbreviation for Shielded Twisted Pair.

Why do you care?

Most users can get away with the unshielded variety (UTP).  The shielded (STP) variety is used in locations where the cable might be subjected to electromagnetic interference or radio frequency interference (EMI & RFI).  For short runs (a few feet) this is almost certainly not going to be an issue.  For long runs, you may find that your cable routes close to power lines in the house, flourescent lights, or electric motors.  All of these can induce EMI and create problems for you.  If you need to run a long cable, it's best to route the cable well away (as much as possible) from sources of EMI or RFI.  When it is not possible, you might need to purchase the more expensive STP variety.

There's also a variety known as CAT5e.  The "e" stands for "enhanced".  Normal CAT5 is designed to handle 100MHz signal speeds.  This fine for all 10BaseT and 100BaseT (10 & 100Mbps) needs (which is what the PS2 NA uses).  The CAT5e variety can handle signals at up to 350MHz.  Though the cable will work, the PS2 will not take advantage of the higher speeds (nor will any 10/100Mbps network Adaptor).  

So why buy CAT5e?

It turns out the CAT5e is actually just a better grade of cable.  For long runs (cable lengths of 50' or longer), signal quality may degrade in normal CAT5 cable below acceptable levels (at lengths of 50' this is probably rare, but I have seen it).  If you were running a cable 100' or longer, I would certainly suggest the CAT5e variety.  At runs more than 50', the CAT5e may not be needed, but it might be considered a good "insurance policy".  The CAT5e cables cost a little more than regular CAT5, but in certain circumstances, they are worth the extra.

There's also Category 6 (CAT6) and Category 7 (CAT7).  There are no "official" standards for CAT6 & CAT7, but these are cables designed for Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mpbs - a.k.a. GigE) applications.  The PS2 NA does not support GigE, however the cables are completely compatible with CAT5 (and they look the same).  They are made from a better grade of material and they do cost more.  Though they will work fine, they are never required.

I already have a computer in my home.  Can my PS2 and my home computer share my broadband connection?

Yes.  There are a few ways to do this.  The challenge is that most broadband providers limit you to using only one IP address, but each network device needs to have it's unique IP address.  There are ways to resolve this conflict.
  1. Perhaps the best way is to use a broadband "router".  Home broadband routers are not quite the same as commercial routers used in Internet data centers.  They have a particular feature known as Network Address Translation (NAT) (See the explanation for NAT below in "What is 'NAT'?".)  The router will appear to be the only device visible from the Internet. The router hides the actual addresses of the PS2 and the PC from the cable modem, so there is no need to acquire any additional IP addresses.   In addition to sharing the IP address, the router also provides certain firewall features which makes this solution much more secure.
  2. If you also happen to have a PC, you can install an additional network card in the PC and use a feature called "Internet Connection Sharing" (a.k.a. ICS).  See the explanation for ICS below in "What is ICS - or Internet Connection Sharing, and how does that work?"  This solution requires that the PC is powered on whenever the PS2 is using the online connection. 
  3. If your provider allows you to have more than one IP address (many ISPs will provide additional IP addresses for an extra monthly charge.  Usually this charge is fairly modest.), you can install a workgroup "hub" or "switch" (they are really not the same thing, but in this case either device will work).  With either the hub or the switch, both your PS2 and your PC will get their own unique IP address and work indepently.

What is a "router"?

Novices sometimes confuse routers, switches, and hubs, as all being the same thing.  In fact they are all different, but routers are probably the most different.

Network devices communicate with one another by transmitting packets (also known as segments) of data between them.  Because the Internet is so large, if all packets were transmitted on one common network, it would be so overcongested as to be completely unworkable.  So the network is broken into smaller networks known as subnets.  In fact, there are millions of them.

This is where routers come in.  A router is connected to at least two different subnets at the same time.  It's job is to be familiar with all the subnets which are directly connected, and to where to find other routers on those subnets, so that when a packet of data arrives at the router, it can determine which (of its multiple networks) should be used to forward the packet.  In doing this, it is finding the correct "route" for each packet and is thus called a "router".

That's the traditional definition.  Home routers are a bit different.  Usually a home router only connects two networks.  One network is called the Local Area Network (LAN), the other network is called the Wide Area Network (WAN - this is the network to your ISP which leads to the Internet).  While the traditional router would have just a single network interface to each of it's connected subnets, a home router will often have a single network interface for the WAN connection, but may actually contain a builtin switch for the LAN (so that each local network device can be connected directly).

But home routers do even more.  One important rule for the Internet is that each connected host must have it's own unique IP address.  To ensure this, there's a strict process for controlling the issuance of IP addresses.  Home users, however, want the convenience of being able to just add a new device without having to go through a rigorous process to obtain an IP address.  To simplify this, a standard (RFC-1918) was created which set aside certain address ranges which are guaranteed not to be used directly on the Internet - they are unroutable subnets.  Home users may create their own subnets using the addresses in these ranges and may give their local network devices these IP addresses without worrying that they might already be used elsewhere.

But if these addresses aren't "routable", then how can they connect to the Internet?

This does seem puzzling at first, but then this is where a feature known as Network Address Translation (a.k.a. NAT) comes in.  See below for the explanation on NAT.

Home routers also impliment a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (a.k.a. DHCP) server so that your PS2 and other computers can use the "automatic" method for obtaining an IP address and other required network settings.

One last remaining feature of home routers is that they also typically have some firewall capabilities to safeguard your home computers from a wide array of network-based attacks.  

Home routers are usually extremely easy to setup and operate and usually just require a web-browser to access the router for setup and configuration purposes.

What is "NAT"?

Home routers aren't typical routers. They provide a feature called Network Address Translation (a.k.a. NAT). It's a bit difficult to explain in a short amount of time, but here's my attempt.

There are exactly 5 criteria which make any given network connection unique. These are:
  1. Protocol type (UDP or TCP)
  2. Source IP address
  3. Source port number
  4. Destination IP address
  5. Destination port number
Data on the Internet is always transmitted in packets (sometimes called segments).  A large amount of data (say a message) is broken into these segments to make the transmission of data more manageable.  Each packet has a packet header which contains certain information about the packet -- in particular it contains the packet's routing data. This is much like stuffing a letter in an envelope and mailing it through the post office.  The packet header is like an envelope. Like a traditional letter, the envelope contains the recipient's address (except a packet contains an IP address and port number instead of a mailing address) as well as the sender's return address (also an IP address and port number). The routers, which will continually forward this packet along its path until it reaches the intended destination, will read the packet headers and use this information to determine where to send the packet next in order to get it closer to its intended destination.

When a computer opens a TCP connection to a remote server, the source computer (say your PC) uses it's own IP address and some random (unused) port number to connect to the remote server (with some specific IP address and a specific port number (80 in the case of a web server)) over the TCP protocol. If you have a home router, your computer is probably using a non-public (RFC-1918) address which cannot be routed on the Internet. The router has to change this IP address into a publicly routable address, so it changes the IP address of the source to the router's own address (the IP address assigned to you by your ISP -- usually this is done dynamically using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (a.k.a. DHCP)). To avoid any port conflicts it will possibly also change the source port number as well. The NAT protocol is actually editing (hacking) the contents of the packet headers.  It is altering the "return address" section of the envelope to make the packets appear as though they originated at the router (not at your PC as they actually did).  The mappings of these changes are then recorded into the router's memory in something called the "translation table" (hence the name "Network Address Translation") and the packets are then sent on their way.

When the remote server receives the packets, it can only see the "return address" of your router (not your PC), so when it replies, it sends the reply packets back over this same connection to the router. The router gets them and compares the source & destination addresses & port numbers to find a matching entry in it's translation table. When it finds the matching entry, the router can then map this back to the real IP address and port number of your internal PC. Having this, the router then hacks these packet headers again and sends them back to your PC.  Your PC accepts the packets and is completely unaware that any editing of the packet headers has ever occured.

NAT is somewhat transparent in that neither your PC nor the remote server you were talking to will have any idea that these packets were altered in transit (they don't know you use NAT).

The upside of all this is that it works extremely well for allowing multiple devices (computers, game consoles, or anything else in your house with a network interface) to share a single IP address as long as your home machines initiate all the conversations with hosts on the Internet.

The downside of NAT is when you try to go the other way. If a remote computer tries to send packets to your PC (either via TCP or UDP) which are not packets in response to an already opened "connection", the router will have no entries for these packets in it's NAT table. Thus, it has NO IDEA which PC behind the router should get these packets and cannot forward them. This is why home routers allow you to customize your own port forwarding table or to specify a DMZ host. This is a static mapping in the router that says "if it comes in on port X, then automatically send it to IP address w.x.y.z." The DMZ host is just a catch-all for port forwarding. It says that anything that can't be determined either by looking at the translation table or by looking at port forwarding rules should simply be sent to this IP address as the default. But the trouble with this is that you only get to have 1 default. So if you have 2 PS2s and both run the same game at the same time and both need to receive packets on a passive connection (a passive connection is one in which a computer listens and waits for another computer to contact it), the router cannot possibly know which one should really get the data.

The only way around the whole mess is to not put them both behind NAT. One or both game consoles should be in front of the firewall on a plain hub or switch (not a router), but then you need extra IP addresses from your ISP.

There are so many routers.  Which one should I get?  Does it matter?

It does matter, but only a little.  All routers don't necessarily have identical features.  Some routers have more features than others.  Recall that in the previous question on NAT, I mentioned that there is a downside to it when a remote server needs to send data to your PS2 which is not in response to a currently active connection opened by your PS2.  I mentioned that routers support features such as Port Forwarding or the notion of a DMZ host, which can deal with this problem.

It turns out that not all routers have these features.  Further, there are a few models which do have these features, but they don't support all protocol types correctly, or they have bugs.

The router must correctly support Port Forwarding and/or have the ability to assign a DMZ host. Otherwise you will have problems with some PS2 online games.

There are a number of router makes and models which support these minimum required features.  

The Linksys BEFSR41 is a very popular model among gamers.  It supports the required features and is known to work well.  

D-Link makes some models such as the DI-604 and DI-614.  These models had a bug in their port forwarding feature which caused them to fail for some PS2 games, but D-Link recently released a firmware upgrade (free to owners of the routers) which does fix the problem.  If you buy a D-Link brand, be aware that the router may have been sitting on the retailer's shelves for a while and do not expect it to have the latest firmware. You should be prepared to visit the D-Link website to download and install the latest firmware revision.

Netgear is another popular manufacturer and makes a number of routers which work well with the PS2 such as the RP-614.

Here's a brief rundown:
  • Linksys BEFSR41 - very popular router with 4 port switch. Easy to setup, good support, known to work quite well with the PS2.
  • Linksys BEFSX41 - similar to above, but it actually has VPN support (don't worry about), but also a dedicated "DMZ" port on the switch.  If you plug your PS2 into this port, the router will treat the PS2 as though DMZ has been correctly configured.  This really simplifies the setup. This model costs slightly more, but it's added ease-of-use may be well worth it.
  • Netgear RP-614 - another popular router with a 4-port switch.  Very similar in features to the Linksys BEFSR41.  The Netgear router also has an interesting "Dynamic DNS" feature which can help you have a fixed hostname (extra service subscription required through DynDNS.org) even though your ISP might give you a dynamic (floating/changing) IP address.  Netgear is a good company, but some feel their telephone support isn't as good as Linksys'.
  • D-Link DI-604 - also similar to the Linksys BEFSR41.  We used to recommend that users avoid this router because of a known bug in it's firmware that created a problem for PS2 online gaming.  D-Link has fixed this bug and the router now works quite well.  Just one word of caution:  If you choose this model, your router may have been sitting on a retailer's shelf for a while and will probably have an older version of the firmware.  The firmware version you need should be version 2.10 (or later).  If you have an older version, you need to visit the D-Link website to download the (free) upgrade.
There are many more manufacturers and models available.  For example, I didn't bother to list the models with builtin wireless capabilities.  While I can't list every possible router, I'm happy to add to the list.  I have one condition:  I will only add the router's to the list which have been verified to work correctly with the PS2.  Since I don't have these routers available to me, I cannot test them myself.  If you can assure me that you have tested a model not on the list, and that it works well, send me an update with your comments and I'll append the list in future versions of this FAQ.

What is ICS - or Internet Connection Sharing, and how does that work?

Internet Connection Sharing (a.k.a. ICS) is a feature of Windows operating systems which causes your MS Windows computer to emulate some of the features of a home broadband router.  In particular, it implements NAT and port-forwarding.  It also implements a DHCP server which means that other computers in your house can use "automatic" IP address selection to join the network.  

To use ICS your computer must have an additional network interface.  Just like the router, one interface connects the broadband modem to the Internet, the second interface connects to your PS2.  If you have more computers in your home, you will need a workgroup "hub" or "switch" to allow multiple computers to connect.  If you have only your PS2 to connect, then you can skip the hub/switch and simply use a "cross-over" network cable to run from the PS2 to the 2nd interface on your home computer.

Windows ICS is not as easy to setup and operate as a home router.  It also lacks the firewall capabilities of a home router and is not as secure.  Routers are highly optimized for their job (unlike general purpose PCs) and will always outperform a home computer running ICS.  If you have difficulty with your router, you typically can call on the manufacturer's help desk.  If you have difficulty with ICS, you're probably on your own. Your ISP is not likely to give you any support.  For these reasons, I usually recommend home routers over ICS.

Someone told me I can just use something called a "hub" or a "switch", will those work too?

Hubs and swtiches are different than routers.  They cannot be used as a functional equivalent when a router is needed. A router is needed to share the broadband modem with other network devices (such as your home computer) because most ISPs will only allow you to have a single IP address.  If your ISP will allow you to have multiple IP addresses (many ISPs will provide more IP addresses for an additional monthly fee) then you can use a hub or switch instead of a router.

Hubs and switches have no security features and will not offer the level of protection available when using a hub.

What is the difference between a "hub", a "switch", and a "router"?

A router, as was explained earlier, is used to connect two or more different subnets, and also often provide extra features such as NAT, firewalls, and DHCP.  Hubs and switches are not used to connect different subnets, they are merely used to connect multiple hosts within a single subnet.  They also provide none of the extra features of routers. Hubs and switches are not nearly as advanced as routers.

Hubs are the most basic of network junction boxes.  They typically have some number of network connection jacks (ports) into which each computer or network device is attached with a network cable.  When an attached network device wants to send a message (which is transmitted as a series of packets or segments), these packets are received at the hub and then copied and retransmitted on every other port (every device attached to the hub gets a copy of the message, whether or not the message was actually intended for that device).  The devices which aren't the intended recipient of the message will usually just ignore the packets.  This makes for a little excessive network chatter. Another side-effect is that only one network device can be transmitting on the network at any one time.  The chatter can result in collisions (a form of network congestion) if more than one host attempts to transmit simultaneously (this does happen occasionally and is unavoidable on a hub), which reduces the efficiency of the network. On small home networks with just a few devices attached, this isn't usually enough to make a significant difference.

Switches are much like hubs, except they are slightly more intelligent.  A switch will probe each of the ports to determine the hardware addresses of the network devices attached on that port (a single port could have more than one network device attached -- esp. if you cascade hubs or switches in a series).  It then saves this information into something called a port cache.  When an attached device sends a message through a switch, the switch actually inspects the packet headers to determine the destination hardware address of the recipient.  It then searches its port cache to determine on which port this destination is attached.  Finally it copies and transmits the packets only on that specific port. In other words, it sends the data only where it needs to go. In doing this it cuts down on network chatter, substantially eliminates collisions, and because the switch itself is substantially faster than speed of any of the network segments, the switch can actually be copying data to and from multiple ports simultaneously.

While switches and hubs essentially do the same job, because of the differences in the way in which switches operate, they can be significantly faster and more efficient -- particularly on busy networks.

My PS2 is in  a room which is nowhere near my home computer and broadband modem.  Can I still connect it to the network?

Yes.  You have a few options.  Network cables can be very long (100 meters) and can be purchased or ordered in long lengths. You can also buy bulk cable if you want to route the cable through your walls (you will probably need to buy wall boxes (usually "old work" boxes are best), cover plates, network jacks, and a crimping tool.  These are generally available at home improvement centers such as Lowes and Home Depot.  Before you run out to do this, be warned that this is usually not trivial and is best left to those that know what they are doing.  

There is an easier option... go wireless.

It is relatively simple to use a wireless setup.  You need a wireless router or a wireless access point to connect to your network. You also need an ethernet-to-wireless bridge to connect to your PS2.  The whole setup can be purchased for about $200.  

This may seem expensive at first, but this is only about $140 more than the cost of a decent wired router. Considering the amount of supplies and work required to run physical network wires through the walls of your home, $140 for a wireless setup isn't actually a lot of money.  Further, it gives you a great deal of flexibility. You can move your PS2 without having to worry about re-running wire and you can also enable other computers (esp. laptops) on the same wireless system. You may even find you can use your PS2 and broadband network from the neighbor's house.

Linksys provides a write-up on how to setup a PS2 on a wireless network which you can read here.  Though this explains how to setup the system using Linksys brand equipment (naturally), keep in mind that you can use any "WI/FI" compliant wireless router or access point and similarly any "WI/FI" compliant ethernet-to-wireless bridge should work as well.

My computer hooks to my broadband modem using a USB cable, what do I do about that?

The PS2 Network Adaptor requires a CAT5 network cable to attach to broadband.  It does not use USB.  Most broadband modems that have a USB port include this only as a convenience because most home computers have builtin standard USB ports, but might not have an ethernet port.  These modems usually also include a standard RJ-45 ethernet jack as well.  You can pick up a standard ethernet card for your home computer (usually about $15 or less) so that all components can use CAT5 ethernet cables.  This would allow you to use a home router.  The router would be connected to your broadband modem and both your PS2 and your home computer would be connected to the router (all using standard CAT5 cabling).

If your router does not have an RJ-45 ethernet jack and your ISP cannot provide you with a model that does, you can purchase a standard ethernet card for your home computer and enable Internet Connection Sharing (a.k.a. ICS - explained above).  You would then run a cross-over network cable between the 2nd network interface on your PC and the Network Adaptor on your PS2.

I'm trying to swap my cable from my home computer to my PS2, but my PS2 can't go online when I do this.   What's wrong?

Most cable ISPs limit the number of network devices which can use the modem to access the Internet (usually the limit is for only one device).  Since network connections are actually transient (the computer uses the network one moment, then stops using it, then starts again, etc.) it needs a better way to track the number of computers.  

This tracking mechanism uses the network card's MAC address.  This is a physical address which is programmed into the network card by the manufacturer (every network card has a unique address).  The Internet provider programs the cable modem to limit the number of MAC addresses which can be recognized (typically this limit is set to just one).

When the cable modem is powered on, the first network device which attempts to use it "recognized" and its MAC address is then "locked" into the modem.  This is called a MAC lock.  From this moment on, the cable modem will refuse to recognize any other network device (if your cable provider allows you to have two IP addresses, then the first two devices which use the modem will be recognized, etc.).  

If you had been using your home computer to access the Internet, but want to attach the network cable to the PS2 for a while, you must clear the MAC lock.  This is easy to do.  Simply unplug the power cord from the cable modem, wait about a minute (this clears the MAC lock), then plug it back in.  You can now begin using your PS2.

It is important that you actually unplug the power cord from the cable modem.  If your modem has a power button, do not use it.  This does not completely power off the modem, but merely puts it into a "sleep" state and the MAC lock will still be retained.

In some situations the cable Internet provider may actually require that the devices which will be connected to the cable modem be registered.  This involves finding the MAC address of your Network Adaptor, then calling your cable provider to register it (note that many providers do not require this).  This is a security measure to ensure that only devices belonging to legitimate customers are able to connect to the network.  The registration process does not involve any costs or fees.

I get a message that says my network connection was successful, but my registration information could not be sent. I cannot connect to any servers.  Why is that?

This is possibly one of the most confusing messages.  The message which indicates that the system was able to connect to the network simly means that the Network Adaptor can, in fact, sense "voltage" on the network cable. This means that the network cable is connected to a live device (such as your home router or broadband modem.)  It does not necessarily mean that your network settings are correct.  

In order for your PS2 to connect to the registration servers, or to any game servers, your network settings must be correct. This message indicates that your network settings are still not correct.

What is a MAC address?

A MAC Address (a.k.a. Hardware address, a.k.a. Physical address) is a 48-bit value programmed into the network Adaptor by the hardware manufacturer.  All ethernet devices have one and every one is unique.  These address are typically written as six pairs of characters.  The characters are expressed in hexadecimal which means they use the digits 0-9 and also the first 6 letters of the alphabet, a-f (they sometimes are written in upper or lower case, but case is not important).  They are usually separated by colons (:) or dashes (-).  My PS2 Network Adaptor's MAC address is 00-04-1f-00-eb-e6 (which could also appear as 00:04:1f:00:eb:e6).

Notice that the first three pairs are "00-04-1f".  The first three pairs represent the manufacturer's "block" of addresses.  This block is assigned to Sony (manufacturers who build network cards and devices in extreme quantities typically have more than one block).  All PS2 network Adaptors will likely start with these same first three character pairs.  The final three characters pairs are assigned uniquely -- usually in manufacturing sequence.

In networking, computers actually use MAC addresses to communicate to other hosts within a subnet.  IP addresses are a logical address which are mapped to the MAC address of their local network card. The IP address is used to organize computers by subnets to make them locatable and routeable across the Interenet.

How can I find my PS2's MAC address?

If your cable provider requires your MAC address before your cable modem will recognize your PS2, you will need to know how to find it.

If the network Adaptor fails to go online once configured with the network Adaptor utility disk, at the error message screen you can typically press the "select" button.  This will display the Adaptor's current network settings.  Among these, the MAC address will also be listed.  You can force this "failure" condition by simply unplugging the network cable from the Adaptor when you perform the connection test.

When I play SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals online, other players can hear me, but I can't hear them.  What's wrong?

This happens only when the PS2 uses Network Address Translation to reach the Internet (either through a home router or via a PC which is using ICS).

In order for the voice audio headset to be able to hear other players when they speak, the router (or ICS) performing NAT must forward network packets which arrive on specific ports to the PS2.  See the question above "What is 'NAT'?" to more fully understand how this works.

You either need to enable port forwarding for the required ports, or you can enable the "DMZ host" feature on your router.  If you use the port forwarding feature, you need to know exactly which ports are required.

SOCOM requires that UDP ports 6000-6999 be forwarded to the IP address of the PS2 as well as TCP ports 10070 and 10080.  

It is generally easier to simply configure your router's "DMZ host" feature.

I can play games hosted by others, but I cannot "host" a game.  Why not?

This is a variation on the same issue described above for SOCOM.  When you offer to challenge another player to a game, your PS2 becomes the game "host".  The other player's PS2 will be given the IP address of your PS2.  Instead of the game occuring via a server relaying network communication (a needless extra step) the consoles will communicate directly via a peer-to-peer connection.  This means that the other player's PS2 will attempt to open a direct connection to your PS2.

If your PS2 is behind a router or PC running ICS (NAT is being used), the NAT device will not know to forward the connection to your PS2.  

You can use port forwarding to resolve this, or you can configure your router to use the PS2 as it's "DMZ host".  The "DMZ host" is the easiest way to resolve the problem.

What is "port forwarding"?  How do I make that work?

This question is related to the question regarding the "DMZ host", which is the easier and preferred method (see below).

To understand what port forwarding is, you'll need to have an understanding of why port forwarding is needed.  To understand that, make sure you first read the topic above, "What is 'NAT'?".

As explained earlier, NAT really works best when your own personal computer and PS2 create active connections to external hosts.  But when external hosts try to initiate the connections to your PS2 or personal computer, the connection requests will have an IP address which is assigned only to your router.  Of course, the connection is not really intended for your router, it's intended (for our purposes) for your PS2... but the router wont know that unless you tell it.

This is the purpose of port forwarding.  It solves the problem of helping the router understand which of your computers (or game consoles) is supposed to get certain kinds of data.

Data on the network arrives addressed (as explained earlier) not only to a specific IP address, but also to a specific port.  Ports are logical extensions of your network address.  It allows a network device (same IP address) to have lots of connections to different hosts or services at the same time, without confusing them.  Ports are really a way of differentiating "services" (or application programs or games).  SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals, as an example, wants all traffic on UDP ports 6000-6999 (the entire range) and also TCP ports 10070 and 10080.  In SOCOM's case, you could ignore these ports and the game itself will still work, but you wont be able to hear voice audio from the other players on your team.

To enable port forwarding you need to know two things:
  1. The IP address assigned to your PS2
  2. The specific protocols (either TCP or UDP) and port numbers (which may be ranges instead of individual numbers)
The specific protocols and ports numbers will be different for each game (some games may not need any).  The port numbers required are merely selected by the software developers -- there are no fixed standards assigned.  This means the only way to know the correct ports is if this information is printed in the documentation that comes with each game, or to call the support line for the game, or to post a question on the Internet and hope someone else knows the answer.

Since the ability to know exactly which ports are needed is a bit evasive, router manufacturer's have a "catch all" option called the DMZ host (see below).

To enable port forwarding you need a web browser.  Using the browser, access your router's administration pages, merely by entering the IP address of the router.  Ususally this will be http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.  If neither of these work, then check the User's Guide (this is always documented, typically at the beginning of the manual) for your router or call your router manufacturer's support number for assistance.

Find the page associated with port forwarding (usually located on some type of "Advanced" features page).

The router will likely allow you specific the port range (if you only need an individual port and your router requires a "start" and "end" port, just use the same port number for both start and end.), the protocol type (always either TCP or UDP), the destination IP address (this is always going to be the IP address assigned to your PS2), and in some cases the target port (always use the same port number).

Don't forget to check the page for an "enable" button (some routers will let you program in the rule, but don't enable the rule unless you tell it to).  Also don't forget to click the "apply" or "save" button.

What is a "DMZ host"?  How can I configure this?

This question is related to the question above on port forwarding.  The DMZ host feature really is the same as port forwarding, but it is much easier to use, which is why I prefer it for game consoles.  

The DMZ host feature does not require you to know anything about the protocols or port numbers used by the games. It is essentially a "catch all" feature.  It will route any new TCP connections or UDP (connection-less) data to your PS2.

This is an enormous advantage for console game users because you don't need to worry about the port forwarding needs of your various games (and the fact that every game has different port forwarding needs).  The "DMZ host" option will simply always work.

To enable the DMZ host feature, you do need to know the IP address of your PS2.  If you don't know this address, see the topic below "I used the 'automatic' method to configure my PS2's IP address.  How can I find out what it is?".

Assuming you know the address, use a PC with a web browser to access your router's configuration pages.  This is done by entering your router's IP address as the URL.  Typically this will be either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.  If neither of these work, consult your router's User's Guide for the correct URL.  It is always documented -- usually very close to the front of the manual.

Access your router's "DMZ host" feature.  This is usually located on an "Advanced" features page.

All you need to do to enable the "DMZ host" feature is to provide the IP address of your PS2 on that page.  If there is an "enable" button, make sure you check it.  Also make sure you click the "apply" or "save" buttons.

Enabling this feature solves many problems such as the ability to hear other players talking in SOCOM and the ability to host (challenge) other players in Madden.

I used the automatic method to configure my PS2's IP address.  How can I find out what it is?

If you intend to use port forwarding or the DMZ host feature to enable your online games, you need to know your IP address.

When you use the utility disk that comes with the Network Adaptor to configure your online settings, you are allowed to select either a manual method or an automatic method to obtain IP address and other network settings.  If you used the manual method, you would know your address, because you picked it yourself.  If you used the automatic method, the PS2 uses a system known as DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol).

DHCP sends a special type of network broadcast request which searches for a DHCP server on your home network. Typically a home broadband firewall/router also includes a DHCP server as a standard feature.  This server (the router) will give your PS2 an available IP address and other network settings which are appropriate for your particular network.  Normally users don't need to know what settings were actually applied by the DHCP server, but to use the port forwarding or DMZ host features you will need to know the IP address.

When you use the 'automatic' method, there will be a few additional questions which are asked.  One question is whether you need a username or password (if you have a router you should always indicate that you do not use a username & password).  It will also ask if you want to define the IP addresses for your DNS servers (you can if you know what they are, but it's usually safe to say 'no').  Finally it will ask if you want to define a hostname for your PS2.  Go ahead and give your PS2 a hostname.  Pick something easy and obvious such a 'PS2'.

Your PS2 will not acquire an IP address (at all) if it does not need to go online.  This means you will probably not be able to find an address unless you have gone online (or at least tried to go online) recently (most DHCP servers will "remember" your system for at least 1 day and often much longer).

Assuming you've set up your PS2 for 'automatic' network configuration and have gone online, you are ready to find your IP address. There are a number of ways to find it.  I will explain two of them.
 
The easiest way to find it is to use the DHCP server which assigned the address... your router.  Using a web browser, surf to the IP address of your router.  The URL is always the IP address of the router.  Goto http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.  If neither of these work, consult your router's User's Guide to help you find it (it's usually very near the front).  

Using the router, find the page which configures your router's DHCP server settings.  Often routers will have a table which displays the "DHCP Client List".  Sometimes the table is displayed on the DHCP setup page.  

Look through the clients listed in the table (there will usually be just a few of them).  You are looking for a MAC address (a.k.a. Physical address, a.k.a. Hardware address) which begins with 00-04-1f-....  That entry is your PS2. Just cross-reference to find the IP address assigned.

If your router does not have a DHCP client list, you can use your PC.  This is only slightly more complicated.  

You need to open an MS-DOS window.  To do this, click on "Start" -> "Run..." and then type in either "cmd" or "command" (which word you need to type will depend on which version of Windows you are using).  A new MS-DOS window should appear.

Inside this new window, type "ipconfig /all" (just type what's inside the quotation marks, don't type the quotes themselves), (you can optionally type "ipconfig /all  |  more" to prevent the output from scrolling off your screen faster than you can read it).  Look for a line which gives the address of your default router (a.k.a. gateway).

You now need to "ping" a special network address which is called a broadcast address.  An IP address is split into 4 sections of numbers seperated by dots.  All home routers use the same network mask, which is 255.255.255.0.  That means the first three sections are your network number and the last section is the individual host number.  The broadcast address is always the highest possible host number within a subnet.  So if your subnet number is 192.168.1.x then your broadcast address is 192.168.1.255.   If your subnet number is 192.168.0.x, then your broadcast address is 192.168.0.255.  In any case, if you look that the IP address of your PC, your broadcast address will use the same number except that the last section must end in 255.

Type:  ping 192.168.0.255    or    ping 192.168.1.255  (depending on your network number).

The ping command will not appear to do anything useful, but in fact it does.  A "broadcast" ping (different from a regular ping) sends the ping packet to every host on your subnet.  There's a reason why this is needed.  I wont explain why, but it causes every host on your local subnet (with an active network connection - meaning this wont work if your PS2 has not enabled the network by trying to go online) to respond to the ping request.  As a result, your home computer will learn the MAC address of every network device on the local subnet.

Due to the nature of the way almost all operating systems and network stacks work, it will save these addresses (and their associated real IP addresses) into something called the arp cache.  ARP is Address Resolution Protocol.  It's not important that you fully understand ARP to finish this, suffice it say that we intend to exploit a feature of ARP to learn the IP address of your PS2.

Type:  arp -a

This will cause your PC to list the MAC addresses (a.k.a. Physical address, a.k.a. Hardware address) of every device which responded to the ping request along with their associated IP address.

Look for a MAC address which begins with 00-04-1f-....  This is your PS2.  Look across to find the IP address which was assigned to your PS2.

Having this IP address, you can now go back to the question "What is a 'DMZ host'?  How can I configure this?" and complete the DMZ configuration.

NOTE:  Since this IP address was dynamically assigned, it could change at some point in the future.  If, at some point, you suspect you might be having trouble with an online game, you might want to check the IP address of your PS2 again to see if it has changed.  The best way to configure a DMZ host is to use a static IP address (using the manual method).

If I use this "DMZ host" feature, isn't it compromising my security?

No.  If the target IP address for the DMZ host feature was a regular home computer, the answer would be "yes", but the PS2 doesn't work quite the same as a home computer.

The reason your router's User Guide (or DMZ configuration screen) may have warned you about using this feature is because home computers leave certain "services" (ports which are waiting for other computers to connect) which are running at all times.  These services allow you to share printers, files, user names & passwords, and other information.  It is typically expected that the information would only be shared by other computers in your home (if you have more than one computer) and is often dangerous to allow users on the Internet to access these features.

The PS2, being a game console, has no hard drive, has no writeable media whatsoever, and has no services listening. The only ports which listen for inbound connections are those ports associated with the game you are currently running -- and of course those ports need to be accessable by other players on the Internet in order for the game to work correctly.  Thus, there is nothing anyone can access except for those things which are supposed to be accessed.

Enabling the DMZ host feature and providing the IP address for your PS2 in no way allows Internet users to contact any other device (such as your home computer).  It is completely safe.

If I connect my PS2 to the Internet, can it catch a virus or be infected by a worm?

I can't say that there is absolutely no possibility of this, but due to the nature of thew way the PS2 works, the probabilities that there will ever be an Internet worm or virus capable of infecting the PS2 is extremely low.

A worm or virus needs several conditions in order to survive and spread.  It needs a host that in can infect, it needs a weakness or vulnerability which it can exploite, it needs a writeable program or operating system which it can modify or install itself into, and it needs a way to find other systems with similar weaknesses in order to spread.

The PS2 has no storage media with a writeable operating system or programs.  The programs (games) are all on non-writeable (DVD or CD-ROM style disks).  These cannot be modified.  

The only way for a virus or worm to atttack a PS2 is to use an online game that has a weakness.  The console could never be infected unless that particular game were running and online.  As a result of infecting that console, the worm or virus could only put itself in memory temporarily.  As soon as the console were rebooted or switched off the malicious code would disappear.  

This means the the probabilities of finding an infectable game are extremely low, but then the ability to store itself while searching for other hosts to infect are even lower.  It's an awful lot of trouble to go to for virus or worm code which cannot do any permanent damage and is almost sure to go extinct before being able to replicate.

PC's have somewhat favorable conditions to allow for worm / virus infection and spreading.  The PS2 simply does not.

My friend and I each have our own PS2.  Can we put them on the same network to play games online?

You can try, but you may have trouble.  Most games require each PS2 to have a unique IP address from the perspective of the game host or of the other player's game consoles.  Since NAT hides the true IP address of network devices when a router is used, both game consoles will appear to have the same IP address.  For games which do not require an inbound connection, this is fine.  For other games, this may be a problem.

There are options.  

If the game consoles (or at least one of the game consoles) were located on the "public" side of the router (instead of the "private" side), it would have a unique IP address.

Generally an Internet provider will only grant a single public IP address per customer (some provide more).  Most Internet providers will allow you to request additional IP addresses (although there is usually a nominal monthly fee -- such as $5/month for each extra IP address).  If you had an extra IP address, one of the consoles could be located on the "public" side.

In order to do this, you would need slightly different network equipment.  You would need a workgroup "hub" or "switch" which is plugged directly into the broadband modem.  The "uplink" port should be used to connect the hub or switch to the modem.  The router and one of the two PS2's would be connected to non-uplink ports (say port 1 for the router and port 2 for the PS2).  

I heard something about a Hard Disk Drive.  What's that all about?

There is a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for the PS2.  This drive is currently only available in Japan.  It is also available to customers who own the PS2 Linux kit (although the Linux kit does not come with a necessary utility which formats the drive appropriately for gaming).  

The release date for this drive has already changed a few times.  The current speculation is that it will be released in the North American market in the spring of 2003.

Why would you want a hard drive?

The hard drive goes hand-in-hand with some Internet gaming ideas.  In addition to extra storage (far beyond what a memory card can handle) it would be possible, with a hard drive, to download ehancements to online games, such as new characters, new game levels, new maps or playing fields, and possibly even game patches (to fix bugs and/or glitches).

There is some additional speculation that the HDD may come with software for web browsing and possibly email. This would allow users to use the PS2 for many of the general purpose needs of Internet use instead of a home computer.

Can I use my PS2 as a home computer?

There is a kit which allows you to use the PS2 as a computer, but it was not intended for use as a typical home computer.  This is called the Linux Kit.  It comes with a keyboard, mouse, hard disk drive (HDD), network Adaptor, a special video cable which allows the PS2 to be connected to a computer monitor (instead of a TV, but the monitor must support sync-on-green), and the Linux software media.

You can see the kit (and learn how to purchase it) by going here.

There is all a PS2 Linux Community Website where you can learn more about this kit, find software, and talk to other Linux kit owners.

The Linux kit will not allow you to run typical PC software.  It runs only Linux software.  This software must usually be recompiled for use on the PS2.

The PS2 Linux kit is intended for those which already are familiar with Linux and comfortable developing and/or porting software.  It is not intended for typical home users.

I eat this stuff for breakfast, where can I find more?

I wrote a networking primer to try to explain most of the concepts of network.  Warning:  It is long and not for the faint of heart.  I have tried to make it as simple as possible, but certain concepts of networking are a bit abstract and difficult to understand without lots of explanations, illustrations, etc.

If you think you're up for it (I don't expect most people will be), you can find it here.

If you want a reference for a really good book on the topic, I suggest TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1 by Richard Stevens (Addison Wesley) ISBN 0-201-63346-9.  This is the best book on networking I have ever read and is generally considered to be "the bible".



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