Connecting a Linux Netbook to the Wireless Network
The Statistics wireless network is part of the UWNet wireless service provided by DoIT. The wireless network in our area is identified with the
(Service Set IDentifier) of
if you are in 133 or 140. Most Linux Netbooks have built-in wireless networking. Be sure the wireless network interface is turned on (some Netbooks have a switch that powers on the interface). Usually the network detection will be automatic. However, it may be necessary to manually set or change the
) when using your Netbook in the Statistics area. If the network does not start as expected, check that the
is correct. The exact sequence to do this will depend on the Netbook's Linux interface.
Testing the Wireless Connection
To test the wireless connection, open a browser window (Firefox is the preferred browser). You should get a default web page with the title
Welcome to UWNet
with a left side-bar message
Log in for Network Access
. If you do not get this page, go back to the previous step and make sure your wireless hardware and software are fully installed, and that the wireless connection is activated and associated with the appropriate UWNet network.
Authenticating to the
UWNet Wireless Network using the Browser Page
To use the full network from a wireless connected Linux Netbook you must log in to the network and be authenticated as a valid user. You can authenticate by entering your
on the left side of the
Welcome to UWNet
screen. Once you get a
message, you will have access to the network. For additional details about the UWNet wireless setup and services, see the Wireless UWNet Info Page
Authenticating to the
UWNet Wireless Network using the VPN (Virtual Private Network) Utility
The VPN utility allows authentication before starting a web browser. It can be a convenient method when you suspend or hibernate your Linux session and keep multiple browser windows open. The Linux VPN utility is a bit complicated to use and it has some quirky behavior on initial startup and when restarted without an intervening shutdown. But here are the procedures to get the Linux VPN utility installed:
Follow the basic instructions at the WiscVPN (Linux) - Downloading and Installing the VPN Client
to get the Linux VPN client installed. Since you do not have the Linux VPN utility installed inititially, you must use the Web page authorization (noted above) to get your computer initially authenticated to the UWNet wireless network. Or you can do the install from another wired or wireless off-campus connection.
Make sure you first download a usable Cisco profile as specified in the instructions. Typically, you need the
for using a notebook while in the Statistics department area.
To start the VPN configuration, you need to enter your password (assuming you have administration rights on your Linux computer).
At some point, you may be asked to save passwords in the "KWallet -The KDE Wallet System". You should accept this service to save the "Group" password needed to make the WiscVPN work properly. You may want to use your typical password as the required password to "open" the wallet.
You should now see the "Manage Profiles - kvpnc" screen. Click "OK" to proceed. Then click "Connect" on the next screen. You may be asked to enter a password for the "KWallet". The first attempt may fail with "error: Username is empty!" message. If so, just click "Connect" a second time. This will hopefully result in a working VPN connection. When asked to enter your user password, you can select "Save Password" to simplify future connections.
There is a glitch with the basic configuration that needs to be corrected at this point. To do this, left-click the VPN icon on the control panel bar. Click the "Disconnect" button in the kvpnc window. Then select "Settings" -> "Configure kvpnc". In the "General" tab under "Network". Uncheck the "Use connection status check" button. This avoids a disconnect associated with failure of the connection status check process on the UWNet system.
To fully test the result, you will need to restart the system.
The basic way to initiate a VPN session is to open a terminal and (for the case of gnome) enter the command:
You will be asked first to put in your password for administrator access. Then you will be asked your password to open the KWallet. Then, if you did not save your password in previous steps, you will be asked to enter you password again. It is possible to eliminate the need to enter the administrative access password by doing the following through a terminal session:
(you will need to enter your password for administrator access)
Using standard editor commands (in vi, use "i") position after the "# Cmd alias specification" line and enter:
Cmnd_Alias KVPNC = /usr/bin/kvpnc
Then position after the last line of the file and enter:
This allows any "sudo" administrative authorized user to run the kvpnc command without entering a password. Save and exit the "visudo" utility. In vi, that would be <Esc>wq<Enter>
The remaining time-saving step is to create a launch icon on the control panel bar to directly start kvpnc without first opening a terminal session. In Gnome:
-Right click on the control panel bar
-Select "Add to Panel"
-Select "Custom Application Launcher" - "Add"
-In the "Type" pull down, select "Application in Terminal"
-For "Name", enter something like "UW-VPN"
-For command, enter "gksu /usr/bin/kvpnc"
-Select the icon box (upper left) and pick an icon you like (or leave the default)
When you click on this icon, you should get the VPN connection utility to start. When this appears to be working properly, take the same steps noted above to fix the timed disconnect glitch. Left-click the VPN icon on the control panel bar. Click the "Disconnect" button in the kvpnc window. Then select "Settings" -> "Configure kvpnc". In the "General" tab under "Network". Uncheck the "Use connection status check" button (if it is currently checked). This avoids a disconnect associated with failure of the connection status check process on the UWNet system.
You will get bad behavior if you stop the VPN utility and then try to start it again. If this happens, you will need to use the browser page authentication until you restart your Linux computer.
- 05 Aug 2009