Recently I tried setting up the laptop computer in my office to share its wireless Internet connection via Ethernet. That might be a little confusing, so allow me to expand. I work for a carbon neutral computer repair company so I regularly have people’s computers at my house. I work on these computers in my office, where I don’t have a wired connection to the Internet. I do however have a wireless connection and a Ubuntu laptop on my work desk that connects to the Internet.
What I wanted to do was plug my client’s computers into my laptop and have them access the Internet. When I tried to search for how to share your wireless connection in this way, I mainly found a series of cryptic instructions ““ often revolving around the excellent Firestarter firewall ““ none of which worked for me on Ubuntu 9.10.
But don’t worry ““ there is a simple way to do this, and I figured it out accidently while following all the various sets of instructions I found. As a service to the Ubuntu community, here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to share your wireless connection via your ethernet port in Ubuntu.
Step 1: Edit Network Connections
On your top panel, beside your clock and your system icons, you’ll see your network indicator. When you’re connected to wireless, it features bars telling you the stength of your network connection. Right-click this, then click “Edit Connections.”
Step 2: Edit The Ethernet Settings
In the window you just opened, make sure you’re looking at the “Wired” tab. Then select the “Auto eth0” connection and click “Edit.”
Alternatively you can create a new connection by clicking “Add” but I found it simplest to just change the default. Just be sure to remember that you changed this setting in case you ever want to use your Ethernet port to access the Internet again, because you will have to change it back to do so.
Step 3: Set To Share
Here’s where stuff starts to look confusing, but don’t panic: it’s not that bad. Click the “IPv4 Settings” tab. Beside the word “Method:” there is a drop-down menu that allows you to pick the manner in which your Ethernet device connects to the network. Select the “Shared to other computers” setting.
Restart your computer. Assuming everything applied correctly, you should now be able to connect any computer to the Internet via your laptop’s Ethernet port.
That’s certainly quite a bit easier than the methods I found by searching for how to share your wireless connection. So why did my exploration of the forums and the numerous other resources available to Ubuntu users not point this out? Well, as far as I can tell, network sharing’s only been this easy since the release of Ubuntu 9.10. No one’s asked for help regarding this since, so there’s no new information on the forum, or the wikis, or the various Ubuntu blogs about it.
This shows that there is a limit to what you can learn about using an operating system from forums. Sharing a network connection is far easier now than it was 6 months ago, but because no one is asking for help on the forums I couldn’t find any evidence that doing so is easier now – I saw only the cryptic instructions of yesteryear.
Know that I don’t mean to criticize the excellent Ubuntu community for their lack of support; on the contrary that community is the main reason I use Ubuntu. I just think this is a good example of a relatively simple task you can’t really learn by searching the forum.
What do you think? Is there a better way for the Ubuntu community to make finding tutorials like this easy to find? If so, what is it? Let’s discuss this in the comments.