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May 19, 2004

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» Oh, the terrible injustice! from Not In Production
Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing passes on a quote railing against what is for some reason seen as a terrible, awful injustice being perpetrated against students at Penn State. Apparently, they aren't allowed to run servers in their dorm... [Read More]

» Oh, the terrible injustice! from Not In Production
Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing passes on a quote railing against what is for some reason seen as a terrible, awful injustice being perpetrated against students at Penn State. Apparently, they aren't allowed to run servers in their dorm... [Read More]

» interesting discussion on how students should use university networks from too many topics, too little time
note well the norms that certain universities are trying to establish and note who those norms serve. [Read More]

» More Copyright v. the University from A Copyfighter's Musings
Follow this great thread from Jason ( here , here , and here ) and Ed , with comments from Donna here. [Read More]

» Student Run Servers from Displacement of Concepts
There is a large buzz in the blogosphere with a number of serious thinkers upset at an admission made by Penn State during the Educause Policy Conference that just took place (more here). The admission was that Penn State has put in place a policy forb... [Read More]

» Penn State v. Education II from Copyfight
Responding to the news that Penn State won't let students set up servers without a faculty member's express permission, Robert Heverly asks an important question (emphasis, mine): [It] seems to me that this affects not only computer science students, b... [Read More]

» Penn State v. Education II from Copyfight
Responding to the news that Penn State won't let students set up servers without a faculty member's express permission, Robert Heverly asks an important question (emphasis, mine): [It] seems to me that this affects not only computer science students, b... [Read More]

» Penn State v. Education? from Copyfight
You know those terrible airport bookstores -- the ones with Danielle Steele bestsellers everywhere and not a drop to read? Ever try to find something in such a bookstore to keep you mentally stimulated for the full duration of a... [Read More]

» Higher-ed networking from Communications From Elsewhere
My co-worker Oren's response to a boingboing post which cites Jason Schultz's report that Penn State is banning students from running servers on machines in the dorms as an example of "abysmal" thinking in higher-ed computing should be required rea... [Read More]

» Educational freedom from bloggy blog
Jason Schultz, an EFF attorney wrote an entry in his blog about Penn State's presentation at the EDUCAUSE policy conference on its ban on students running servers and their new Napster program. Schultz gets it right when he points out... [Read More]

Comments

Eric Aitala

Wow, you mean PSU students aren't allowed to run web servers stuffed with porn, open email relays spreading spam, rogue DHCP servers creating havoc over the network, game servers sucking up all the bandwidth, and IRC servers pirating software and movies? What next? Homework?

Todd JJ. Troxell

It really is a disgrace. Luckilly I am off-campus @psu on a broadband connection.

I think I've been holding a subconscious grudge due to past and present tactics like this, but I've no plans to ever sign up for their "Napster"

.. Then again I doubt they've got a Linux client anyway.

And by the way, it's not just against policy, it's at the tcp level in most buildings. :(

Make that "firewalled at the tcp level".

Todd J. Troxell

Make that "firewalled at the tcp level".

Tony

How the bright minds of the future must suffer, not being able to run servers on a university network!

Are they too stupid to rent co-lo and SSH to a box there?

As a university admin we don't let random members of staff run servers on the network as they are invariably badly managed. Quite why students should be allowed to is beyond me.

A university network is primarily an essential part of the institution as a whole; not a playground for the compsci geeks.

Tony

How the bright minds of the future must suffer, not being able to run servers on a university network!

Are they too stupid to rent co-lo and SSH to a box there?

As a university admin we don't let random members of staff run servers on the network as they are invariably badly managed. Quite why students should be allowed to is beyond me.

A university network is primarily an essential part of the institution as a whole; not a playground for the compsci geeks.

Pat Berry

Dude...I'm just south of you right now down in Fairfax. Jeez...we need to coordinate in the future ;-)

jeremy hunsinger

just one more exampe of educational institutions pursuing normalization instead of education.

In regards to the playground comment above, i suggest reading the manifesto for creative computing which speaks toward the necessity of technological use for creating technologically literate students and workers http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/~knetlit/archives/cat_manifesto.html

Richard Jones

I can see why the university would want to do this, but I cant see it being very easy to police.
An enterprising compsci geek could still get away with running a server anway.

You could make the port appear closed to any IP not within a given list/range (your mates, or known student IPs), making it hard for them to scan the network for servers.

A really devious candidate might setup a port-knock so only those in the know could access the server.

Ban students from using the network if they're caught?
They'll hook up wifi/cables and share their next door neighbours connection.

It seems to me it'd be near impossible to enforce, which makes you wonder if such a rule is worthwhile at all.

Andrew Walls

Disclaimer: A few years ago I worked at PSU and dealt with a variety of security issues.

Although the posting above is based on a conversation focused on copyright enforcement, it must be noted that the move to ban servers in dorms was probably based on more issues than this. Servers in dorms are a perenial source of headaches for security staff in many institutions. For that matter, servers maintained by poorly paid Grad students in faculty offices are a regular source of security problems!
Before we get too concerned about the perceived loss of educational opportunity, we need to consider the position of the university in this. The university is not a common carrier and cannot totally shield itself from liabilities arising from the behavior of people using university resources such as networks. As the university supplies the networks and Internet gateway for the dorms, students that run servers in dorms are using university resources. As the university is convened to support education, it is not unreasonable for hte university to insist that activities involving university resources should be related to education.
The university has not prevented students from setting up private LANs with servers in the dorms. Students are still at liberty to run WIFI and other protocols to enable communication with their services. They cannot connect these servers to the university's network.
As has been pointed out by other posters, if you really want to run a server on the Internet, move out of the dorm, get broadband and go to it.
PSU has some of the best computer labs around and some of the most computer literate faculty you will find. They are well supported by a variety of vendors and it is not difficult to get faculty support for private research projects involving servers. If a student has a legitimate interest in working with a server (and is not simply trying to run games and distribute illicit content) any number of faculty members will support the project and help acquire a server or provide space and a network connection. If the student simply wnats to publish content, PSU provides numerous web hosting opportunities for students, faculty and staff.
This expansion of AD-20 does not have a negative impact on the educational environment of PSU.

Tony

http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/~knetlit/archives/cat_manifesto.html

Um, I'm having difficulty seeing how that's relevant or indeed vaguely useful.

You can be just as creative without a wide open network account. Or if you want to really experiment, do it on your own systems or test networks. Sheesh.

At university my halls account started off restricted lightly, and then turned to access only via proxy. Was it a problem? No. I developed a search engine akin to google as my dissertation quite happily within the restrictions.

Proof: http://www.i-r-genius.com/project.htm

I'm technologically literate, and a frikkin firewall never stopped me learning. Stop whining just because you can't flood the network with P2P.

If the restrictions genuinely do stop you learning I have found that tutors will help you get the tools you need.

Anyway, in my experience a decent student will learn more getting ROUND the restrictions :)

Firewallsabitch

I had first ran into the evil firewall through my unablilty to connect to my ftp server from the lab computers in order to transfer and burn files. My computer is old, I have no cd burner. The U Drive etc. are all too small and slow compared to ftp. For the U drive or webspace I'd have to physically go back and forth between lab and dorm to get any significant data transfer, fudge that. Now the cd burners in all the computer labs are worthless. Nobody used them except me. I wasted an hour agonizing over what was wrong, when I found out that Penn State was the problem. Fudge Napster.

TheGuyAbove

I'd like to add, I'd rather have a slow network of the pure anarchy and net havoc of video game servers, file sharing networks, telnets, ftp, mail, and http servers, then a useless firewalled network.

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