First and foremost, Packet Radio can be an instant joy or an exercise in hours of frustration based on one detail:

PACKET RADIO IS EASIEST WHEN YOU USE A COMPUTER THAT HAS AN RS-232 9 PIN SERIAL PORT THAT USES A SERIAL CABLE TO CONNECT TO A PHYSICAL TNC. MUCH LIKE QRP, LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR OTHER METHODS.

However, USB and other soundcard options exist also with instructions to follow.

Hardware decisions for packet radio can be quite overwhelming due to features and limitations of each. The links below will outline two common configurations. Pick the 'rabbit hole' that you want to go down and enjoy the ride.