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Help Connecting Old Computer to Internet

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Hello Everybody-

I was wondering how best to hook up an older computer to the internet. The computer in question is an old Compaq laptop (Pentium II) running Windows 2000. I am currently using a Motorola SBV5120 cable modem. The computer can access the internet if I connect it to the cable modem via USB cable. However, connecting an ethernet cable from the cable modem to the ethernet port on the computer's Xircom internal modem does not work. The Xircom modem does work if you connect to a dial-up line. My main reason for wanting to figure this out is because I am going to be hooking up a router to the cable modem soon. Since I plan on using a wired router (ethernet cables) to hook up my computers, how would I best hook up the Compaq? Can I use an ethernet/USB adaptor on the USB port of the computer? The computer will be approximately twenty feet away from where the cable modem currently is. I was figuring on using a wired router to connect everything to keep costs and simplicity of the system down. If these are stupid question, forgive me. I've been a computer user for years, but don't have much knowledge on the technical side of things. Thanks.
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